During the first week of June Anmar Pretorius and Derick Blaauw attended the International Trade and Finance Association (IT&FA’s) 27th International Conference at the Poznan University of Economics and Business, Poznan, Poland. The topic of the conference was: “Leading Issues in International Trade and Finance”. Delegates from afar as New Zealand, China, India and the United States converged in the beautiful city of Poznan. Both colleagues delivered papers at the conference. Anmar and Derick delivered a joint paper entitled: The Impact of Trade on Stock Market Integration of Emerging Markets. Anmar presented a paper entitled: Exports and Exchange Rate Risk: Analyzing Emerging Market Sectoral Exports – co-authored by Heinrich Nel.
The “Keynote speech” was delivered by Professor Leszek Balcerowicz of the Warsaw School of Economics with the theme “Systematic forces, shocks and economic growth”. Prof Balcerowicz was instrumental in Poland’s economic transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. Prof Balcerowicz is a former chairman of the National Bank of Poland and also served as Deputy Prime Minister in Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government. During the lecture Prof Balcerowicz highlighted the importance of fast and sustainable economic growth without neglecting important social issues as a prerequisite for sustainable development.
This was followed by a Plenary Roundtable, chaired by Joseph Pelzman (George Washington University) with the topic of: “Global Economy in 2017 – Business, Institutional and Academic Perspective”. The rest of the conference consisted of 14 parallel sessions and ended with a guided walking tour of the city centre.
The Society’s President, Prof André Fourçans (ESSEC Business School, Paris) delivered an address at the Gala Dinner on the Economics of Climate Change. Issues dealt with included how economists analyse the phenomenon and its impact.
New contacts were made and the possibility of future engagement was discussed with some of the colleagues of the Poznan University of Economics and Business. Further information on the conference can be found at: http://www.itfaconference.org/
Dr. ShiNa Li from the University of Surrey in UK visited the School of Economics during the week of 29 May to 2 June. She is a co-worker on a project on Tourism and Poverty reduction, which is funded by the British Academy, together with Prof Andrea Saayman, Dr.Alicia Fourie, and Dr. Marco Scholtz. This is a 1-year project, which aims to investigate the influence that various aspects of tourism have on poverty.
During her visit, she presented some research results on the distributional effects of mega events. The case study presented investigates the effect of the Olympic Games, held in Beijing in 2008, on income distribution and opportunities to both urban and rural households in China. The exceptional circumstances in China, where the household registration system (hukou) distinguishes between a rural and urban person, hampers labour mobility. A person with a rural registration has access to poorer educational services and may not migrate to urban areas to search for work there. This has led to an increase in income disparity between urban and rural households in China.
Prof Derick Blaauw was among a number of government, educational and non-governmental role-players invited by the National Planning Commission to attend a Roundtable Discussion on the Social Protection Floor and Cost of Living. The event formed part of a series of research engagements as part of the NDP’s focus to eradicate poverty by 2030. The event took place in Pretoria on the 8th of May 2017. The revised White Paper on Social Welfare as well as draft paper titled “Analysing the impact of State services on the cost of living for the poor” formed the basis of the discussion. The paper was prepared and presented by Dr. Neva Makgetla as a technical and policy discussion on research pertaining to issues that needs to be reviewed for improved standard of living and social protection. The discussion focused on the quality of life for the poor in South Africa in the context of promoting implementation of NDP.
In the latest issue of the South African Journal of Economics Derek Yu, Atoko Kasongo and Mariana Moses examine the performance of South African Economics departments over the period 2005 to 2014. They compare staff profiles, courses and the curriculum, as well as research activities. Whether you are a prospective student looking to join a good school, or an alumnus looking for bragging rights, it makes for an interesting read. So how does the NWU’s Potchefstroom campus measure up?
On the teaching side we have the same core modules that everyone is offering, like Macro, Micro, Public Economics, or Econometrics, but no niche modules like Game Theory, or Health Economics, or Economic History. The article missed our specialisations in International Trade and in Risk Management (4 modules each). And since the data were collected we also added the Agricultural economics programme. That is quite a bit of variety.
On the research side we are punching above our weight. For a relatively small group of staff members we are well qualified and publishing articles. We were 16 full time academics when Derek collected the data (compared to 23 at UP, 30 at Stellenbosch, and 38 at UCT) and 11 of the 16 had PhDs. Currently we are 19 when you add the agricultural economists and all three have PhDs. We have also added one more NRF rating for a total of 4 rated researchers. In terms of research output per capita per annum we ranked 5th, just after Stellenbosch and just before UJ.
Writing as the School director, I have to say that a result like this humbles me. I am thankful for the hard work of a dedicated team. Keep up the good work everyone!