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Financial liberalisation, consumption and debt in South Africa

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  • Janine Aron
  • John Muellbauer

Abstract

South Africa experienced substantial rises in the ratios of consumption and household debt to income from 1983, for which conventional explanations in terms of income, income expectations, interest rates and wealth prove inadequate. This paper emphasizes the role of substantial financial liberalization, which is of interest for two reasons. The first is to help understand South Africa’s low saving rate, an endemic problem. The second is that unlike the UK, Scandinavia, Mexico and other countries, South Africa’s financial liberalization occurred without an asset price boom, thus illuminating the direct role of financial liberalization. Previous attempts to model financial liberalization are not fully satisfactory. Our methodological innovation is to treat financial liberalization as an unobservable, proxied by a spline function, and entering both consumption and debt equations, which are jointly estimated. We also clarify the multi-faceted effects of financial liberalization on consumption. The comprehensive solved-out consumption function uses our own constructed set of personal wealth estimates at market value and income forecasts from a forecasting equation (allowing underlying macro-fundamentals to enter the model). The empirical results corroborate the theory in the paper, confirming the importance for consumer spending of extensive financial liberalization, of fluctuations in a range of asset values and asset accumulation, and of income expectations. Results suggest that households largely pierce the corporate veil. The paper also throws important light on the monetary policy transmission mechanism in South Africa.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2000-22.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2000-22

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Cited by:
  1. Gerald Epstein, 2002. "Employment-Oriented Central Bank Policy in an Integrated World Economy: A Reform Proposal for South Africa," Working Papers wp39, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  2. Aron, Janine & Muellbauer, John, 2006. "Review of Monetary Policy in South Africa: 1994-2004," CEPR Discussion Papers 5831, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer & John Muellbauer, 2000. "Personal and Corporate Saving in South Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-21, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Morris A. Davis & Michael G. Palumbo, 2001. "A primer on the economics and time series econometrics of wealth effects," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Aron, Janine & Muellbauer, John & Prinsloo, Johan, 2006. "Estimating the Balance Sheet of the Personal Sector in an Emerging Market Country: South Africa 1975-2003," Working Paper Series RP2006/99, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, 2006. "Housing Wealth, Credit Conditions and Consumption," CSAE Working Paper Series 2006-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  7. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer, 2006. "Review of Monetary Policy in South Africa since 1994," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2006-07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Chance Mwabutwa & Manoel Bittencourt & Nicola Viegi, 2012. "Financial Reforms and Consumption Behaviour in Malawi," Working Papers 306, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  9. Barend de Beer & Nonhlanhla Nhlapo & Zeph Nhleko, 2010. "A perspective on the South African flow of funds compilation - theory and analysis," IFC Bulletins chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), The IFC's contribution to the 57th ISI Session, Durban, August 2009, volume 33, pages 239-248 Bank for International Settlements.
  10. Muellbauer, John & Williams, David M, 2011. "Credit Conditions and the Real Economy: The Elephant in the Room," CEPR Discussion Papers 8386, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. van der Berg, Servaas & Burger, Ronelle & Louw, Megan, 2007. "Post-Apartheid South Africa: Poverty and Distribution Trends in an Era of Globalization," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  12. Janine Aron & John Muellbauer & Coen Pretorius, 2004. "A Framework for Forecasting the Components of the Consumer Price," Development and Comp Systems 0409054, EconWPA.
  13. David M. Williams, 2010. "Consumption, wealth and credit liberalisation in Australia," Economics Series Working Papers 492, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  14. John Muellbauer & Emilio Fernandez-Corugedo, 2004. "Consumer credit conditions in the UK," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 70, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.

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