The contrasting fortunes of South Africa and Zambia in thepast month have raised awkward questions for the former.
When Zambia tapped international capital markets inSeptember, its debut $750m bond was 15 times oversubscribed with total orders of $11.9bn – asub-Saharan record. The 10-year bond is now trading at lower yields than parts of Europe, andlower too than the average the US has paid over the past 60 years.
The message is clear: there is a wall of money that is being drawn to the medium-term prospectsof Africa’s fastest growing, resource-rich economies.
South Africa’s capital markets remain far better regulated and more liquid than others in Africa. Butthe continent’s largest economy is otherwise losing its competitive edge as a directionlessgovernment under President Jacob Zuma struggles to address industrial unrest, rising costs andgrowing social pressures. These are straining already sluggish growth and undermining SouthAfrica’s value as a gateway to the rest of Africa.
南非资本市场的监管水平和流动性一直优于非洲其他国家。但在应对劳资纠纷、成本上升和社会压力增大等问题时，雅各布 祖玛(Jacob Zuma)总统领导下的政府失去了方向，导致非洲最大经济体正在失去自身的竞争优势。上述问题加剧了增长疲软，破坏南非作为其他非洲国家门户的地位。
If South Africa presents emerging market risks for developing world returns, its relatively matureeconomy will become a less compelling prospect for investment. Or, as one London-based privateequity manager puts it, if the country’s stability is at issue, the case for leapfrogging into morelucrative African markets gets stronger.
After nearly two months of at times violent industrial unrest and more than that of policyuncertainty, investors usually drawn by South Africa’s superior legal, financial and physicalinfrastructure are beginning to think again. This is most pronounced in the mining sector, and theplatinum industry in particular, half of which is losing money. In an attempt to tough it out in theface of illegal strikes and uneconomic wage demands, mining houses have shed 15,000 jobs in thepast week.
“Stability in the country was really important and justified continued investment,” says one seniorexecutive. “I am not going to start threatening capital but clearly if we don’t resolve the issue, thenhow do I justify to shareholders that I should continue to invest in South Africa?”
The sense of crisis is becoming infectious. Foreign companies have put some investment decisionson hold in other sectors in recent weeks and the kind of big deals that drew Barclays BankintoAbsa, China’s ICBCinto Standard Bankand US retailer Walmartinto South Africa’s Massmart, lookunlikely to be repeated soon.
危机感正在四处蔓延。最近几周，其他行业的外国公司做出了推迟投资的决定。巴克莱银行(Barclays Bank)和南非联合银行(ABSA)、中国工商银行(ICBC)和南非标准银行(Standard Bank)，以及美国零售商沃尔玛(Walmart)和南非麦什马特(Massmart)之间那种大型并购交易，短期内是不太可能再出现了。
As well as by domestic strife, the economic outlook is clouded by strong ties to Europe’s flaggingeconomies. The political outlook is also causing as much concern.