Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Irony of SA's Financial Regulations
While South Africa is experiencing markedly less turmoil than the rest of the international markets, it seems almost ironic that many commentators and business luminaries are crediting (no pun intended!) our rather constrictive financial regulations as the antecedent.

Most of these commentators have spent their last few years deriding these same regulations and wishing for a more open financial market. But in this current collapse, exchange control regulations and the National Credit Act have gone a long way to insulating our economy from the worst of it.

Johan Rupert gave a speech yesterday in which he said that "South Africa can be thankful that foreign exchange controls precluded local investment institutions from participating in the kind of investments that caused major international financial institutions to buckle in recent months."

Earlier in the week, David Shapiro attributed some of the self-same protection from sub-prime lending instruments to the National Credit Act. Even though the Act only came into being in June, just before the sub-prime crisis hit, it was in the works for years, and mortgage companies particularly had heeded its imminent passing. The Act holds us in good stead during this crisis and beyond.