Private sector credit extension (PSCE) increased by N$718.4 million or 0.8% m/m in December, bringing the cumulative credit outstanding at the end of 2017 to N$90.2 billion. On a y/y basis, private sector credit extension increased by 5.2% in December, increasing at a quicker rate than the 4.5% recorded in November. From a rolling 12-month basis, N$4.4 billion worth of credit was extended to the private sector, compared to the previous year, the rolling 12-month issuance is down 36.4% from the N$6.9 billion issuance observed at the end of December 2016. Of this cumulative issuance, individuals took up the lion’s share of credit, amassing N$3.3 billion worth of debt while N$957 million was extended to businesses. Claims on non-resident private sector credit increased by N$113.2 million y/y.
Credit extension to households
Credit extended to individuals increased by 6.7% y/y in December, lower than the 7.1% y/y recorded in November. On a m/m basis, household credit extension rose by 0.8% in December and is marginally slower than the increase of 0.9% registered in November. Installment credit, quite often used to purchase new vehicles, contracted by 3.9% y/y. Tighter credit controls imposed on vehicle financing has been the main driver of the decline in new vehicle sales. The value of mortgage loans extended to individuals increased by 1.0% m/m and 7.8% y/y. Overdraft facilities extended to households slowed in December, increasing by 3.6% y/y compared to 8.5% y/y in November.
Credit extension to corporates
Credit extension to corporates increased by 0.8% m/m in December, following a slow increase of 0.2% m/m in November. Year on year credit extension to corporates grew 2.7% in December, an improved increase in growth from the 1.3% y/y in November. Installment credit extended to corporates, which has been contracting since February 2017 on an annual basis remained depressed, contracting by 6.1% y/y in December. Leasing transactions to corporations declined further in December by 17.2% y/y. Overdraft facilities extended to corporates increased by 0.4% m/m and 4.2% y/y.
Banking Sector Liquidity
The average monthly liquidity position of commercial banks declined by N$117 million from N$3.1 billion in November to N$3.0 billion in December. The decrease in the liquidity position is attributed to periodic corporate tax payments to Inland Revenue due at year end. Further deterioration in the overall liquidity position is observed over the month of January, overall liquidity standing at N$1.9 billion. The use of BoN’s repo facility further suggest that some banks are experiencing some stress in liquidity shortages.
Reserves and money supply
Foreign reserves shot up by N$1.1 billion, increasing reserve levels to N$29.7 billion in December from N$28.5 billion in November. According to the Bank of Namibia the increase in reserves emanated from SACU inflows as well as the second tranche of the AfDB loan.
Private sector credit extension growth hit freefall during 2017, slowing with every passing month. Households credit growth has been outpacing corporates, accumulating 76% of the credit issued to the private sector in 2017. The skewed uptake in debt between individuals and corporates points to low consumer and business confidence. The meek uptake of credit from a business perspective is more concerning in that it displays a lack of desire from businesses to expand and invest in capital projects, in turn also hiring less people. The outlook for PSCE is largely dependent on the interest rate landscape in South Africa, with BoN expected to follow any rate moves enacted by the SARB.
December’s political developments have been positively received by the market, providing renewed optimism for SA politics going forward. The market’s satisfaction with Cyril Ramaphosa as new ANC party president, was followed by a resurgence of foreign investment into SA equities. This should provide more support for the rand that has strengthened since the ANC’s elective congress in December. Coupled with inflation that has moderated to 4.7% in December and is well within the SARB’s target band of between 3% – 6%, does support the case for monetary easing in 2018. The immediate risk to this scenario however, is that of the imminent credit rating review decision from Moody’s. If SA is successful in averting a downgrade decision, monetary policy will very likely be expected to lighten the cost of debt for heavily indebted consumers through more accommodative policy rates. With BoN set to follow in similar fashion.