Listen to podcast

Our host Ayabonga Cawe is in conversation with Chris Holdsworth, Chief Investment Strategist and Zenkosi Dyomfana, Investment Manager at Investec Wealth & Investment, where they discuss the impact that the economy has on markets and the connection between the global and the South African economy.


In this, the third instalment of season one of our Unpacking Wealth Creation podcast, fund manager Zenkosi Dyomfana and chief investment strategist Chris Holdsworth, both at Investec Wealth & Investment, discuss why and how the broader economy matters for financial markets and asset values.

What’s the connection between the economy and financial markets?

“What matters for companies over the short term is earnings and dividends, but what matters for current share prices is how you value those future earnings and dividends today," explains Holdsworth. "To do this, you have to discount future earnings and dividends at a particular interest rate, to figure out what they’d be worth today. If you attach very little confidence to a company’s forecasts, you’re going to discount at a higher rate to compensate you for the risk you’re taking on. But if you have great faith in a company’s forecasts, you’re going to discount at a lower rate because it’s less of a risk that the outcome will be different to what you expect.”

Learn more

Asset class FAQs

  • What is a discount rate?

    The discount rate is the interest rate at which you discount an investment’s future earnings and growth so that you can figure out what they’d be worth today.

    Example: R100 invested today at a 10% interest rate will grow to $110. Looking at it a different way: $110 (future value) when discounted by a 10% discount rate is worth $100 (present value) as of today.

  • What is the yield curve?

    The yield curve is a graphical representation of the yields available for bonds of equal credit quality, but different maturity dates.

    Normal: Upward sloping 

    Short-term bond yields lower than long-term bond yields 

    Flat: No slope

    Short-term bond yields equal long-term bond yields

    Inverted: Downward sloping

    Short-term bond yields higher than long-term bond yields 

  • What is offshore investing?

    Offshore investing involves investing outside of South Africa. You can do this in two main ways:

    Direct: Transfer your rands overseas and use that foreign currency to invest in the foreign country. Reserve Bank limits how much money you can take out the country.

    Indirect: Buy into a locally-available, foreign-domiciled fund that invests offshore. No Reserve Bank limits on how much you can invest.

    Both options will have tax implications so it’s best to seek professional advice beforehand.

Chris Holdsworth
Chris Holdsworth, Chief Investment Strategist, Investec Wealth & Investment

Investing in the stock market is riskier than investing in government bonds because companies have a greater chance of defaulting on their debt than governments do.


What if you want to look at the whole stock to determine whether it’s cheap or expensive?

“For the whole market, you’ll look at the broad discount rate, or the risk-free rate which is the yield on your 10-year government bond," says Holdsworth. “Investing in the stock market is riskier than investing in government bonds because companies have a greater chance of defaulting on their debt than governments do. You need to add an appropriate premium to the risk-free rate to determine the best rate at which to discount the future growth and earnings of your stock market investment.” 

On the topic of government bonds, how does the yield curve work?

“The yield curve is a proxy for investor sentiment on the direction of the economy," says Dyomfana. “You get a normal yield curve, which indicates a stable economic environment in which both growth and inflation, and therefore interest rates, are rising over time. It shows that short-term bonds carry lower yields to reflect the fact that investors’ money is at less risk relative to long-term bonds. Long-term bonds demand higher yields because of the longer period of commitment required. 

“When the yield curve is flat, it implies an uncertain economic outlook. Investors don’t know whether growth, inflation and interest rates will rise or fall in the future. This usually happens when the yield curve is transitioning from normal to inverted.

"An inverted yield curve happens when short-term yields exceed long-term yields and it signals an economic recession ahead. If investors believe interest rates (and therefore yields on fixed income investments) will fall in the future, then they’d rather lock in current (short-term) yields before they fall further.”


Zenkosi Dyomfana
Zenkosi Dyomfana, fund manager, Investec Wealth & Investment

If investors believe interest rates (and therefore yields on fixed income investments) will fall in the future, then they’d rather lock in current (short-term) yields before they fall further.

Ok, so back to the stock market. Why does the yield curve matter to equity investors?

"The yield curve matters because it shows what investors believe growth, inflation and interest rates will do. Typically, higher inflation expectations are negative for risk assets, including equities," explains Dyomfana. “This is because higher inflation will require higher interest rates. You’ll therefore be discounting the future earnings of your equity investment at a higher rate, which will result in a lower present value (or share price) today.”

So as an equity investor, you want lower inflation. How does that come about in an SA context?

 “We’ve recently experienced a massive boom in commodity prices and if this continues, we’ll see improved government revenues - as miners will pay more tax as they earn more. More revenue for the state means it can either reduce taxes or reduce borrowing. Reducing borrowing will lower the long-term bond yield, which is the reference rate – or tax-free rate we spoke about earlier – for discounting SA assets.”

Discounting the future earnings of your stock investment at a lower discount rate will result in a higher present value (or share price) today.

“Commodities are a key leading indicator for the SA market, not just resources stocks," asserts Holdsworth.

  • Disclaimer

    Although information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable,  Investec Wealth & Investment International (Pty) Ltd or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries (collectively “W&I”) does not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Opinions and estimates represent W&I’s view at the time of going to print and are subject to change without notice. Investments in general and, derivatives, in particular, involve numerous risks, including, among others, market risk, counterparty default risk and liquidity risk. The information contained herein is for information purposes only and readers should not rely on such information as advice in relation to a specific issue without taking financial, banking, investment or other professional advice.  W&I and/or its employees may hold a position in any securities or financial instruments mentioned herein. The information contained in this document does not constitute an offer or solicitation of investment, financial or banking services by W&I . W&I accepts no liability for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature including, but not limited to, loss of profits, goodwill or any type of financial or other pecuniary or direct or special indirect or consequential loss howsoever arising whether in negligence or for breach of contract or other duty as a result of use of the or reliance on the information contained in this document, whether authorised or not.  W&I does not make representation that the information provided is appropriate for use in all jurisdictions or by all investors or other potential clients who are therefore responsible for compliance with their applicable local laws and regulations. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part or copies circulated without the prior written consent of W&I.

Investec Wealth & Investment International (Pty) Ltd, registration number 1972/008905/07. A member of the JSE Equity, Equity Derivatives, Currency Derivatives, Bond Derivatives and Interest Rate Derivatives Markets. An authorised financial services provider, license number 15886. A registered credit provider, registration number NCRCP262.