The South Africa iShares (NYSEARCA:EZA) is more than just a play on precious metals and commodities and despite some obvious social problems, its economy is in pretty good shape indeed. EZA lost almost 4% of its value Friday, but its economy is trending upward in many respects.
It enjoys an economic growth rate of 4.5 per cent and inflation has been within the central bank’s 3 to 6 per cent target since 2004. The Financial Times states that its public finances are in good shape; the government budget, in deficit to the tune of 10 per cent of gross domestic product in the early 1990s, is now in balance. Although vulnerability to external shocks remains, reduced levels of external debt and a build-up in foreign exchange reserves make this less likely.
But overregulation, poor infrastructure, high unemployment, unequal income distribution and a troublesome HIV/AIDS crisis are all holding back economic progress. Next year a presidential election is scheduled and hopefully a more vibrant two party system will emerge rather than the current one-party dominance. More competition in business and politics can only help lead to a more healthy economy and society.
EZA 1-yr chart: