Exploring the frontier zones of the SA economy Reply

Nik Theodore gaslesing

Proff Wilma Viviers, Derick Blaauw, Nik Theodore and Dr Anmar Pretorius

Yesterday TRADE presented the first brown bag lunchtime seminar of 2016 featuring Prof Nik Theodore of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prof Nik is in South Africa as part of a research project with Derick and Anmar and Rienie Schenk at UWC. The title of his presentation was: Exploring the frontier zones of the South African economy: Migration and day labour in Tswane.

He put the work into context by showing that there is an established literature on informal entrepreneurs, but less work on the informal labour market. His own interest is specifically in the migrant workers and the gateway cities in South Africa. The informal labour market for day labourers is characterised by unequal structures and adverse incorporation of migrant workers – and they make up a large share of those workers. Their 2015 survey in Tswane showed the of the 335 day labourers surveyed, 56% were foreign born and 89% of them were from Zimbabwe. Of the 44% South Africans, 40% were from Mpumalanga and 35% were from Limpopo province. Economically displaced workers go to the cities.


Research fieldwork taking place! Reply

Derick Nick fieldwork

Last week saw a multi-disciplinary research team active on the dump site in Potchefstroom. The team is busy with a research project examining food security and socio-economic conditions prevailing on landfill sites in South Africa where waste pickers carve out a living by gathering recyclables from the trash being dumped. Gathering recyclable waste has become a source of income for thousands of people in South Africa. There is no capital or start-up cost, no schooling or expertise needed and the waste picker has an assured buyer for the recyclable waste. The only real ability needed is the physical capacity to pick waste and to have access to waste and buy-back centres. Most informal waste pickers earn very low and uncertain levels of income and the socioeconomic and working conditions on the landfill sites remain unspeakable at times. Many face chronic poverty despite their attempts to generate a livelihood in the informal economy. This forms the background for the current project in terms of the food security and socio-economic conditions of these people. The project forms part of a bigger country-wide food security project, hosted within a number of academic institutions in South Africa.


2016 Academic prestige function Reply

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Every year the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences honours the top academic achievers at a prestige function. In the School of Economics a number of prizes are awarded and we are very proud of our top achievers and grateful for our sponsors. The list is as follows:

  • The best student over three years in Economics: Jané Möller
  • The best honours student in Economics: Karmen Vermaak
  • The best student over two years in Risk Management: Yolandi Pietersen
  • The best honours student in Risk Management: Izelle Coetzee
  • The best student over two years in International Trade: Mariska Fouché
  • The best honours student in International Trade: Gabriel Mhonyera
  • The best MCom dissertation in the School of Economics: Lorainne Ferreira and Joubert de Villiers
  • The WTO prize for the best master’s degree dissertation: Johan Malan

We have longstanding relationships with valued sponsors of the prizes that the students receive and they are: RMB, Treasury One, NWK, Senwes, ITRISA, CGIC and KPMG.

The watchword on interest rates: Caution Reply

When SARB’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meets again at its usual two-monthly gathering next week, will the hawks or doves prevail? For some time the SARB has been impaled on the horns of a familiar but painful dilemma: how to reconcile its concerns about rising inflation with the reality of a steadily weakening economy? The latest GDP figures show that SA’s growth rate in 4Q2015 was only 0.6%, with growth of 1.3% in 2015 and 2.2% in 2014 as a whole. Credible forecasts of GDP growth in 2016 are now well below 1%, with only slightly better growth expectations for 2017. The overall economic outlook remains both uncertain and vulnerable.

Raymond Parsons

Prof Raymond Parsons

There are a number of global and domestic factors that explain why the SA economy is currently in a bad space and which cannot be laid at the door of monetary policy. SA is again in one of those phases which is becoming chronic, namely, a serious drop in confidence. And a flexible exchange rate regime is supposed to largely act as a ‘shock absorber’, as it did with the startling replacement of Finance Minister Nene last December, to facilitate adjustment to developments.

Yet the recent decline in growth has also coincided with a two-year period of a so-called ‘rising interest rate cycle’ and steadily higher borrowing costs in the economy. Correlation or causation? And how does a pro-cyclical dearer money approach fit in when public policy is now rightly directed to re-expanding the economy and reviving the momentum of growth? It is also common cause that SA is facing a serious risk of an investment rating downgrade to ‘junk status’ this year.