According to a recently published report from the World Bank Enterprise Survey, between 2009-2014, about 322 (out of 5,833 firms) organised private companies were forced to shut down operations. Furthermore, the survey pointed out that of the firms sampled, at least 1,136 of them were at risk of shutting down. We reckon that the time period covered by the survey is not recent and covered a period of reasonably strong growth in economic activities. Between 2014 and 2016, Nigeria plunged into a recession, experiencing severe crunch in the FX market which hampered manufacturing and trade.
Accordingly, we think the number of firms that shut down operations within this period would be much more significant. In more recent data, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) also stated in 2017 that only 20% of Nigerian SMEs manage to survive.
Although the recently published Ease of Doing Business ranking saw Nigeria climb 15 places to 136th place, this does not appear evident in the daily life of SMEs. Several challenges have been responsible for the increasing mortality rate of Nigerian businesses. The World Bank survey identified obvious factors like Stifling business regulations, Inadequate infrastructure, Tax issues, Access to land, Corruption, Business licensing and Trade registration. In our view, we believe high cost of credit amidst low access and unfavourable trade policies have also hindered the growth and survival of SMEs.
Recently, Sophia Nigeria Limited and Linda Manufacturing Company Limited announced they are currently struggling to survive, a situation that forced them to shut down their major plants in the country and lay off about 6,000 workers. These companies manufacture the once-popular “Xpression” weave-on brand and exported in massive volumes to Europe and America owning a significant market share in the hair accessories market.
However, congestion at the ports amidst poor road infrastructure which prevent early clearing of raw materials has hindered the ability of the companies in meeting up with foreign demand who have now turned to other brands. The story of these companies depicts one of many examples of business giants who have been brought to their knees due to challenging business environment.
[READ MORE: Economy: Still on the border closure]
The poor development of businesses in Nigeria has led to ripple impacts on the Nigerian economy. Low job creation, rising unemployment, rising youth vices and weakening consumer demand are some of the obvious impacts. In our opinion, the future of economic growth and development in Nigeria lies in the private sector, thus we believe the federal government must begin to implement policies that would foster a more accommodating business environment. Some of these policies would obviously revolve around improving land access, clearer business regulations, removal of registration bureaucracies, and curbing corruption in regulatory bodies & judicial system.
Furthermore, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) remain the most viable way to solve Nigeria’s infrastructural conundrum. In all, an improved business environment will not only reduce the business risk priced into cost of credit for SMEs, but it would also engender the growth of the private sector.
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Why there is a massive sell-off of US stocks
The United States 10-year Treasury yields rose to a new one-year high of 1.5% on Thursday sending the equities market on a bearish run. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.5% as of 7.30 pm on Thursday falling by a whopping 500 points. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ were both down 2% and 2.75% respectively ad the sell-offs intensified.
Global bond prices also fell lower on Thursday and investors around the world sold off massively as they feared higher inflation could erode bond yields.
What is going on?
Investors are worried that massive injection of stimulus in the US and in most European countries could trigger higher inflation which will erode profits on bond yields assuming their fears materializes.
US inflation rate for the month of January 2021 was 1.4% the same as the month of December 2020. US inflation was as high as 2.3% a year ago yet investors remain worried. In response to this fear, bond yields have hit multiple one-year highs. This fear is has now spread to the US equities market.
US President Joe Biden is seeking a $1.9 trillion stimulus package which many had hoped will please the market. However, it appears investors are rather afraid that it could trigger a “reflation” eroding whatever positive jolt it could have had on the wider economy.
What this means for your stocks
A rise in interest rates is triggering a massive sell-off in US stocks ad investors fear a return to higher inflation could signal the market could be entering a bearish era. Stocks have hit multi-year highs since January as investors poured in billions of dollars into stocks. If this sell-off persists then investors in US stocks could see the value of their portfolio plummet.
Tech Stocks are particularly affected by the sell-offs with investors dumping heavyweights like Netflix, Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google all falling. Meme stocks, an acronym for stocks popular with Reddit and Twitter retail investors have also suffered losses.
Nairametrics SSN subscribers are advised to track their portfolios accordingly.
Buharinomics: In Stagflation we trust
We explain why President Buhari is synonymous with stagflation and what he can do to get us out of it.
Economists define stagflation as a period of slow economic growth, high unemployment rate and higher inflation. It is one of the worst kinds of economic state of affairs that often leads to poverty, insecurity and social-economic crisis. It is a sticky economic conundrum that is incredibly difficult to escape from.
The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveal Nigeria barely slipped out of a recession in the 4th quarter of 2020 with a 0.11% GDP Growth rate. Despite being a welcome news, it is the slowest GDP Growth rate on record at least since 2011.
Earlier on, in the same week, the Statistics Bureau also released inflation data for the month of January revealing an inflation rate of 16.47%, the highest since April 2017, and affirming Nigeria’s galloping inflation status.
Nigeria is in a protracted state of stagflation and has been in the state since the Buhari administration came into power in 2015. Nigeria’s Gross Domestic product per quarter has averaged 0.18% in the last 6 years since this administration got elected into power. The Buhari government has also presided over a consumer price index change of 108.6%, meaning that prices of nearly every measurable item have doubled in the last 6 years.
Flashback to the first installment of General Buhari and the story is all too familiar. Nigeria’s GDP Growth rate for 1983, 1984 was -10.92% and -1.12% respectively. Annual inflation rate in the same period was 17.2% and 23.8% respectively.
Buharinomics is synonymous with Stagflation.
How did we get here?
While it all started from the drop in oil prices in 2014, a cocktail of economic policies from the Buhari-led administration is largely blamed for Nigeria’s economic quagmire. Since it came into power, the government has adopted economic policies that are centered around defending the local currency, import substitution and social spending.
For all its good intentions, these policies are pregnant with side effects that potentially erase its positives, turning into cancer of cataclysmic proportions.
For example, while the policy of defending the exchange rate stabilized the naira between 2016 and 2019, it cost the CBN trillions in interest payments and high cost of borrowing.
The high cost of borrowing is associated with higher inflation and stunted economic growth as small businesses cannot secure the funding required to expand and even when they do it is expensive.
The policy of promoting locally made goods over their foreign alternatives has also led to multiple bans of access to forex to imports, higher customs duties and taxes on imports and a crushing border closure all of which have combined to send inflation off the roof.
Nigeria’s inflation rate conundrum can also be traced to supply-side challenges such as insecurity, logistic gridlocks, corruption and inefficiencies at the Nations ports and an overall bitter experience in the nation’s ease of doing business.
How to get out of Stagflation
There is no clear-cut set of rules that can end stagflation however a rethink of the government’s approach to policymaking and implementation could be a good first step to control it, especially if the target is one of the major causes of stagflation, supply-side inflation.
To address Nigeria’s challenges with Stagflation, the Buhari Government will have to swallow its pride and relinquish trust in moribund policies that have not worked. Wholesome of Nigeria’s economic challenges are out of its control (like fall in oil prices) a huge chunk of it is self-inflicted and as such within its control. For example, it must fix the spate of insecurity around the country by being more deliberate with dealing with bandits, militant herdsmen and terrorists.
It must declare a national emergency in the nation’s ports and reduce the lead time to clearing goods for import or export. It must address the logistics issues affecting the distribution of farm produce from a place of planting to the destination of consumption.
Monetary policy restrictions stifling trade must be loosened and replaced with a reward policy system that encourages exports as against imports without banning cheap substitutes that have no local production advantage. We need new regulations and laws that favour private sector investments, protect property and enable capital formation. A case in point is the perennial PIB Bill that gets debated year after year.
These are not novel ideas within economic circles and as such cannot be that difficult to conceive and concede to doing. The challenges have always been the will and courage to act in defiance of snags such as vested interests, political ideology, endemic bureaucracy, and corruption. This government has shown in the past that it can roll back on unpopular policies except that it does it too late with not enough time to create a positive impact.
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