Business confidence is down.
New data released by Statistics SA yesterday showed that the physical volume of manufacturing production was down 15% and that the total value of manufactured products produced was down 9.2%.
These figures reflect what happened all the way back in February already.
The major parts of this decline were from three sectors.
1. Basic iron and steel, non-ferrous metal products, metal products and machinery
2. Motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment,and
3. Petroleum, chemical products, rubber and plastic products.
These sectors are some of the most vulnerable South African sectors as they have the most exposure to the global financial crisis relying on export markets and overseas buyers.
Other data released by Stats SA today show that while gold production has increased 2.7% non-gold mining has fallen by 14.9% leading to an overall reduction in mining output by 12.8%.
Again mining is vulnerable to the economic meltdown as we need to sell our minerals to other countries.
Business Report tells us that business confidence fell to a seven year low last month mainly due to falling exports.
Business Report also noted that house prices are falling and that they are expected to continue to fall for the rest of the year and only start to recover in 2010 according to figures released by ABSA's housing price index.
These figures are not promising.
The ANC partly as a response to this and partly no doubt as an electioneering strategy have called for more rate cuts to boost spending.
The Mail and Guardian carried the headline 'Interest rate cuts proposed to boost economy'.
The Treasurer General Mathews Phosa called for a monthly interest rate meeting by the Reserve Bank.
Apparently they are concerned by the possible job losses that will follow these dismal figures and that interest rate cuts can be used to boost the domestic economy offsetting the downturn.
Business Day also carried these comments noting that they were made at the ANC's Progressive Business Forum at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.
The interesting thing is that within the ANC these rate cuts are seen as a leftist strategy while rightist business leaders are also in favour!
The Times noted the problems faced by Pamodzi Gold where workers have not been paid for March and only got 70% of their salaries in February.
All of these factors point to the ANC going into crisis mode and iAfrica also reported on the call for further rate cuts.
The times they are tough and we still have a way to go before the expected boost in 2010 from the Soccer World Cup.