News from the School Reply

October is just flying and in the School of Economics we have been busy with the last few assessments and sorting out the participation marks ahead of the exam. We do have a few small bits of news.

20141017_092001On Friday Dr Andre Heymans and a group of Honours students visited Senwes. They were treated to the whole tour and learned more about the trading and hedging done by this major agriculture player.

Earlier this month Prof Derick Blaauw attended an ERSA workshop of the Micro-, Labour Economics and Poverty group in Ballito. The topic of the Workshop was the foundations of Labour Economics. During the Workshop prominent labour economists from UKZN, UCT and Stellenbosch University presented lectures on the essential foundations of labour economics. Topics covered included:

  • Schooling and Earnings,
  • Discrimination,
  • Labour Demand,
  • Labour Supply and
  • Aggregate labour markets

This will form the foundation of future labour workshops, sponsored by ERSA.


Our students at the Agbiz congress Reply

Earlier this month two of the School’s Honours students participated in the Agbiz student case competition. Christian Schlotfeldt and Jan-Hendrik Strauss took on an agricultural economics topic, prepared their case and traveled to Somerset-West for the congress.

The rest of the story is from the Agbiz newsletter:

The prize for the winning team in the competition was claimed by the team of Ayanda Demana (University of Pretoria), Scelo Mshengu (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Christian Schlotveldt (North-West University) and Manfred Venter (University of the Free State).

The prize for the winning team in the competition was claimed by the team of Ayanda Demana (University of Pretoria), Scelo Mshengu (University of KwaZulu-Natal), Christian Schlotveldt (North-West University) and Manfred Venter (University of the Free State).

The Agbiz Student Case Competition was hosted during the Agbiz Congress. The competition provided an opportunity for sixteen top students from major universities across the country to compete in a contest where they had to analyse a real world case and to develop strategic recommendations for addressing key issues in the case.

Agricultural economics and agribusiness students were selected to participate in this initiative.  They were divided into four teams which each received the same case, concerning the crisis situation of Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC), operating in the citrus industry where citrus black spot (CBS) is threatening South Africa’s access to the EU market.

The teams presented their recommendations to a panel of judges and the two best teams presented to the congress in the final round. The congress voted for the best team.

“The competition was challenging and required us to think out if the box for innovative strategies,” says Ayanda Demana, student from the University of Pretoria.  “In the final round we had to present to 250 congress attendees, which were the most people I have ever presented to. At first, I was nervous.  However in the end I truly enjoyed it. It introduced me to public speaking on a grand scale.”

Conference news Reply

Over the past few weeks staff of the School of Economics presented papers at local and international conferences.

Marianne by ETSG

Prof Marianne Matthee presented a paper at the European Trade Studies Group (ETSG) conference in Munich, Germany. Her paper, with Neil Rankin of Stellenbosch University and Tom Ferole of the World Bank, examined the diversification of South Africa’s exports. Specifically, they looked at the intensive and extensive margin of exports and how these changed due to the global financial crisis.

If you want to catch up with some of the papers presented at the conference, have a look at the Storify of Prof Krugell’s tweets from the ETSG.

Locally Prof Derick Blaauw attended an Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) Research Workshop on SA Political Economy / Public Choice Economics at the Soweto Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 18 – 19 September 2014. He was the co-author of a paper with Dr Christie Schoeman (UJ) of a paper entitled: How evolving uncertainty can lead to a constitutional crisis in a post-conflict society.

WTO Chair, the lectures and discussions Reply

Mrs Anmar Pretorius reports from the recent launch of the WTO Chair:

The students and staff members from the Mafikeng campus

The students and staff members from the Mafikeng campus

On 17 September students and colleagues from the three NWU campuses gathered to celebrate the WTO Chair. The guest lectures by mr David Shark and HE Roeland van der Geer were attended by, amongst others, colleagues and students from the School of Economics (PC), colleagues and post-graduate students from the Faculty of Law (PC), 14 staff and students from the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology (VC) and 37 colleagues and students from the School of Economic and Decision Sciences (MC). After the lectures, post-graduate students from the three campuses engaged in some informal discussions around the topics covered by the guest speakers.

Even though there was disagreement around the importance of the EU for the South African economy, the importance of trade was recognised. The students highlighted some interesting benefits of both imports and exports. Labour laws and human rights also evoked interesting views. Consensus was reached on the urgent need to address the shortage of skills in SA – even if it would require to send students overseas to acquire these skills.

On a more practical note, scholars were urged to do relevant research particularly on the challenge to align economic policy to form an environment conducive for investment. The importance of an interdisciplinary approach to tackle our challenges was highlighted by a postgraduate law student.

Due to the time constraint of a strict launch schedule, only 45 minutes was available for discussions. However, the support for further/ future interaction between the postgraduate students of the different campuses was unanimous. Whether it takes the form of a debate, competition to test economic knowledge or some problem solving exercise does not seem to matter. The young minds are keen to engage…

My lasting impressions: the open and frank way in which students engaged, the surprising consensus on most issues – regardless of different campuses and fields of study, the positive attitudes towards and expectations of South Africa’s future.

Thank you for everyone who took the day out of their busy schedule and travelled some distance to be our guests. We look forward to visit you in the near future and engage as eternal scholars…