Hikes in interest ‘could be worse’

ECONOMISTS are divided on exactly how badly the repo rate hikes will affect the average South African in debt, though few believe yesterday’s hike is good news.
The South African Reserve Bank is to increase the repo rate by 50 basis points. According to SARB governor Le- setja Kganyago, the rate at which the insti­tution lends money to banks will rise to 6.75 percent, while the prime lending rate will increase to 10.25 percent.

Economist Mike Schussler said the hikes will mean at least an extra R46 a month for every R100 000 borrowed on a 20-year bond. He said the increase could have been worse, with much larger increases seen in previous years.

“Ultimately, however, this is not a good news story as we could get two or three more (rate hikes) in the coming year,” said Schussler.
He said that while consumers may not feel the current increase, the upcoming increases, combined with other services rate hikes – such as food, water and electricity – could take a dire toll on the aver­age consumer.

But economist Neil Roets was harsher in his analysis, saying even the current repo rate hike would severely affect consumers.
“This makes a major differ­ence on monthly payments… This increase will filter through to other services as well. Everything will be more expensive,” he said.
Roets advised that consumers plan their budgets and tighten their belts for a very expensive year to come. “2016 is going to be a very expen­sive year. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start budgeting,” he said.

In an interview with East Coast Radio earlier in the week, Sasfm Banking and Financial Services Group economist and director David Shapiro said increasing interest rates was a difficult deci­sion in the current global economy.

“If anything, you would think one should ease interest rates to encourage or to ease the burden on the consumer or on household­ers. But in this case I think the mandate of the central bank is to stabilise prices.

“To do so, they try to embed inflation expectation. It’s going to be more pain for an economy that is already suffering,” he said.

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