The South African – United States Sovereign Bond Spread and its Association with Macroeconomic Fundamentals

The yield spread of South African to United States 10 year government bonds over the last 5 years has increased substantially to levels approaching those last seen during the mid-1980s. This yield spread increase is replicated in spreads relative to long-term German bonds, as well as for the spread of state owned enterprises (ESKOM) to United States and German bonds. This paper examines the association between the spread and macroeconomic fundamentals over the 1960-2019 sample period, under the GARCH and GARCH-M class of estimators. We find that higher South African economic growth, lower inflation, public and private debt, as well as Rand-Dollar appreciation are all associated with a statistically significantly lower South African – United States yield spread. The strongest impact is associated with the public debt-to-GDP ratio. Mean spread levels do not appear to be influenced by yield volatility. Finally, while there is no evidence of sign bias in the impact of shocks on yield volatility (negative shock impacts are no di¤erent than positive), there is evidence of size bias for both positive and negative shocks: larger shocks have a larger impact on volatility than small, regardless of their sign. Collectively, and even ignoring the impact of private sector leveraging, South Africa’s performance in these macroeconomic fundamentals is associated with an increase in the SA-US yield spread of 363 basis points (since 2012). This constitutes a substantial proportion of the current 741 basis point spread.

Working paper 830
1 August 2020

Related South Africa’s Cities and Growth Spatial Challenges and Policy Interventions Content

Request for Proposals: The role of cities as drivers of growth and employment
Background Urbanization in South Africa is expected to reach 80% by...
Call for Work
South Africa’s future will be decided in our cities
Discussion Document 14 South Africa’s cities face multiple, overlap...
Dieter von Fintel, Justin Visagie, Ivan Turok, Takwanisa Machemedze, Claus Rabe, Sebastian Galiani, Edward Glaeser
Discussion Document
Monitoring South Africa’s metropolitan economies: A survey of the data landscape
Discussion Document 13 Disparities in data across different metropo...
Dieter von Fintel
Discussion Document
Cities, productivity and Jobs in SA: Problems and potential
Discussion Document 12 Cities contribute to national prosperity bec...
Ivan Turok, Justin Visagie
Discussion Document
Place-based economic policies: international lessons for South Africa
Discussion Document 11 Place-based policies are designed to support...
Harris Selod, Claus Rabe
Discussion Document
What luminosity data can and cannot reveal about South Africa’s urban economies
Discussion Document 10 As novel types of data are becoming availabl...
Takwanisa Machemedze
Discussion Document
Crime: A policy-oriented survey
Discussion Document 9 South Africa has a reputation for having high...
Sebastian Galiani
Discussion Document
Virtual CDE Workshop on SA Cities and Growth
Urban economics has provided powerful insights into how the charact...

Search Resources

Ground Floor Brookside Building
11 Imam Haron Road
Claremont, 7700
Cape Town

PostNet Suite # 109
Private Bag X1005
Claremont 7735
Cape Town

Get Social