Capital flows: the South African experience
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There has been a significant rise in the empirical work distinguishing between episodes of sharp slowdowns and surges in capital inflows. Much of this analysis has centred on gaining a better understanding of the cyclical behaviour of capital flows. This paper continues in this vein by identifying capital flow episodes for South Africa and analyses the nature and main drivers of cross-border flows during these episodes. This paper makes two major contributions to the empirical work on South African capital flows. First, specific attention is given to some pertinent measurement issues in the identification of capital flow episodes for South Africa. The post capital account liberalisation period (post-1995-period) is delineated into a “normal” period (when capital inflows were close to historical averages) and an “abnormal” period (when capital inflows deviated significantly from the historical average). Second, the paper identifies some defining characteristics during these two periods. In this regard, the behaviour of domestic and foreign agents as drivers of capital flows and the probability of capital flow reversals across asset classes are given particular attention. Although these issues have significant policy implications, they have, to date, been given limited attention in the empirical work on South African capital flows.