By Andre Basson, Brenthurst Wealth Management

Many people grapple with the idea that it is perhaps unpatriotic to move investments away from the JSE to markets offshore.
One of the most attractive aspects of the JSE for international investors is the fact that the rand is a relatively liquid currency. This means that foreign investors can invest in the JSE with relative ease compared to many other emerging markets. Consequently, many of the buyers and sellers on our local market are not local investors but rather foreigners.

The JSE has a market capitalisation of approximately US$950 billion, which, while an impressive number, is much smaller than the New York Stock Ex-change (NYSE), which has an approximate market capitalisation of US$23 trillion. The JSE then is a relatively minor exchange when compared to the top exchanges globally and it is important to always consider the rise and fall of the JSE within the context of global markets. As the saying goes, when the NYSE coughs, the JSE gets the flu.

When markets are down globally, the chances are that the JSE will also be down. The influence of global investors has much to do with this move-ment. International sentiment plays a large role in investment in the JSE and the view of global investors does impact the outlook of the JSE.

As I write this, the JSE All Share Index is sitting at just under 57 000 points; not long ago the JSE hit a
high of just over 59 000 points. This high point was on the back of a dovish US Federal Reserve and positive
signs of a good trade deal between the US and China. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping
showing that they were willing to talk and deliver a trade deal created the prospect of renewed
synchronised growth. When talks broke down markets around the world weakened and nosedived,
with the JSE dropping to nearly 56 000 points. This shows just how vulnerable the JSE is to international
events beyond its control.

While it is true that the JSE All Share Index tends to move in the same direction as the MSCI World Index
(a global equities index that roughly equates to the market performance of 23 developed countries),
it does not mirror this growth. There is long-term divergence – essentially the MSCI World Index is
growing at a faster rate than the JSE All Share, and this means that the SA economy is not keeping up
with the economies that make up the MSCI World Index.
If you were to make a comparison to the S&P 500 (an index of the top 500 listed companies in the US by
market capitalisation), the JSE All Share is falling even further behind. The graph below from Bloomberg
shows just how drastic this long-term divergence in growth is becoming.

Since 2014 the JSE All Share Index has lost more than 60 points to the MSCI World Index, and a staggering
100 points to the S&P 500. The further you push back the normalisation point, the greater the
difference becomes. Moving the normalisation point to 2012 shows a difference of 154 points
between the All Share and the MSCI World, while the S&P 500 is a full 225 points above the All Share.
The point here is that if we do not fix the deep structural problems within South Africa, this long-term
divergence trend will only continue.


Behavioural finance places great emphasis on the impact that bias has on investing. Recency bias – investing
your money with financial institutions that you have recently heard of in the news or from a friend
– has been a tool of savvy marketers for years. Home country bias is a risk that many in South Africa can
fall victim to. This is the consumption of only local media and making decisions without considering that
possibilities overseas.

Many people grapple with the idea that it is perhaps unpatriotic to move investments away from the JSE
to markets offshore. Investing should not be a patriotic duty; investing is an allocation of capital at a location
where you have the potential for gaining a good return for the risk you take on. Emerging markets
have the potential to offer great returns, but the risk that the return might not materialise as expected is
also there. Considering the long-term divergent growth between the JSE and the S&P 500, is it perhaps a
good idea to look at offshore options?

Right now, the JSE is cheap, and it does have the potential to give good returns if we as a country can fix
our problems and match it with global synchronised growth. It is not my view that this is reason enough
for you to bet your house on it. Investing is not an exact science and we do not possess crystal balls, so
unfortunately we do not know how long it will take to get the fundamentals in South Africa back on track
and in a good place again.

As an investor, you need to look at the current opportunities available to you and make the best decision
possible under the circumstances. There remains value in selected global stocks and geographies
that provide far more opportunities, industries, and diversification than our local market can offer.
We feel this is enough reason to continue to favour global stocks over South African ones.
It is always advisable to contact an investment professional for an investment solution suited to your
needs. For more about the Brenthurst offering and team, visit the Brenthurst Wealth website.

Brenthurst’s team consists of fourteen highly-qualified investment advisors who can assist
you in creating a truly global investment portfolio. Having a detailed financial plan provides
you with a strategy to make practical financial decisions in all aspects of your life.