PhD colloquium Reply

For undergrad students who may not be familiar with the term, a colloquium is an academic get-together where people talk about their research. This morning three prospective PhD students in the School of Economics took the opportunity to present their research proposals. We were treated to some interesting plans for PhD theses.

Requier on Africa, oil and FDI

Mr Requier Wait spoke on the topic of foreign direct investment in the oil sector in Africa. He is focussing on the design of the so-called petroleum fiscal system and the development of a measure of the impact of FDI. Investment in the oil sector has direct and indirect benefits for the host country and these need to be taken into account in the design of the deals between the host countries and oil companies.

We had an interesting discussion on the macro- and micro-level links, spillovers and resource curses. It is an wide-ranging topic with many possible spillovers for research.

Another colleague who presented was Me Carike Claassen. She is tackling the state of decoupling between emerging and developed economies. There was some interesting information about the co-movement of business cycles in the world economy and how this has changed over the years. Emerging economies and re-emerging economies were discussed along with wild speculation from the floor about global value chains and macro-level, aggregate demand fluctuations. Prof Krugell argued that it is impossible to not believe in globalisation!

Carike on business cycles

Carike proposes to undertake Dynamic Factor Analysis to examine the state of decoupling and/or recoupling of economies. The specific focus will be on the period following the Great Recession of 2008. She is planning three possible articles examining decoupling of the emerging South and the North, between the developing South and the rest as well as between China and the North.

The results could have some interesting implications for policy makers. The changing economic and political structure of the world has important implications for foreign policy, trade, investment and growth.  Identifying economies which are decoupling from the West and contributing towards the restructuring of the global economic system will help to inform policy makers on decisions in these regards.

The third presentation of the day was on the Finance/ Risk Management side of the School. Mr Francois van Dyk (who is currently at UNISA) proposed to examine hedge fund performance measures under different economic conditions.

Just filling out the paperwork to get the study going!

In the world of investments, measuring performance is about risk and return. In his presentation Francois explained that traditional risk-adjusted performance measures are not complete and are to a large extent one-dimensional, as they do not implicitly include or measure all components of risk. However, investors rely on the traditional performance measures to evaluate the risk-adjusted performance
of investments. In addition, these widely used traditional performance measures are one-dimensional risk assessment measures, as each measure includes only a particular component of risk and thus leaves other risk components or dimensions untouched. For his PhD he is asking: Can additional tools be identified for hedge fund investors that characterise additional risk components not considered by traditional performance measures? To answer this question he plans to evaluate the bias ratio, omega ratio and portfolio diversification index – with the end result being a risk dashboard for hedge fund investors.

It is all interesting work and from the School’s side we want to wish students and promoters the best of luck.

Our first Kindle single is out! Reply

A blog is one way to write about the latest research, but the rule for a good blog post is that it should be similar to a mini skirt: long enough to be proper, short enough to be interesting. Every now and then one wants to get the whole story out there. In academic circles that could be via a working paper, journal article or chapter in a book. An alternative process that staff of the School of Economics have recently been a part of is to publish your own Kindle e-book.

You can download it with one click at

Proff Riaan Rossouw and Waldo Krugell have a paper that gives an overview of the history of CGE modelling in South Africa. The work was part of Riaan’s Master’s dissertation and Waldo was the supervisor. The trouble is that the dissertation is not an effective way to disseminate results. Anyone who is interested have to request it via their university’s inter-library loan desk, get it days (or weeks) later and keep it for two weeks before snail mailing it back. We think that students, researchers and policymakers should be interested to know more about the issues and the CGE models used to examine them in South Africa, but journal editors do not care much for reviews. Economics journals want current analysis with new results for their readers. History journals want more about the people and the context, of for example the trade negotiations in which CGEM’s were used in the mid-1990’s, but in this case it was impossible to get from published accounts. Thus they decided to make the overview available through the e-book option.
Over the past few months Riaan took the lead, formatted the Kindle Single and engaged with Amazon’s publishing service. The end result is now available online and we are very happy. The work is out there and available for everyone to download and read. For a specific type of academic content the e-book is the future!

A first round of data on Zimbabwean firms Reply

Over the past 10 years the Zimbabwean economy has suffered political repression, expropriation of private property and mass emigration of the skilled workforce. Analysis of what has been an economy-wide disaster has been limited due to a dearth of data. Today the World Bank for first time released enterprise survey data from Zimbabwe. 599 firms were interviewed from May 2011 through March 2012. It paints an interesting picture of firms and the business environment.

World Bank Enterprise Surveys

  • The firms in the survey are established survivors with an average age of 33 years.
  • On average the firms have 53 permanent full-time workers and 10 part-time workers.
  • 46% of production workers are unskilled and 31% of firms offer formal training.
  • Female participation in ownership is markedly high at 56%, but only 23% of the permanent full-time workers are female.
  • Capacity utilization is only 45%.
  • 97.7% of sales are domestic sales and 63% of inputs have a domestic origin.
  • 11% of firms report exporting more than 1% of sales, but direct and indirect exports account for 2.3% of sales.
  • On average the firms hold 48 days’ inventory, compared to 24 in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The firms are clearly finance constrained – 84% of investments are financed internally and 63% view access to finance as a constraint to doing business.
  • 71% of the firms reported that they are competing against informal firms – compared to 65% in Sub-Saharan African and 56% in the world. Of these firms, 47% view this competition as a major constraint.
  • The firms report fewer power outages per month than those in other Sub-Saharan African countries, but a much greater share of firms report owning a generator.
  • A notably small share of firms (10%) identifies transportation as a constraint to doing business.
  • 41% of firms identify tax rates as a constraint.
  • Compared to other Sub-Saharan African countries, licensing seems to be less of a concern.
  • 32.6% of firms identify corruption as a constraint, compared to the average of 37% in Africa and 36% in the rest of the world.

It is possible to further slice and dice the data by sector, firm-size and location. I hope to follow up with some proper analysis soon.

Tweet vir ekonomiese ontwikkeling Reply

‘n Oud-Puk en kollega in die Skool vir Ekonomie se werk is gister op Twitter genoem. Michael Clemens is by die Centre for Global Development en is ‘n invloedryke “tweeter” oor ontwikkelingsvraagstukke, spesifiek immigrasie en noodleniginghulp. Sy tweet was oor navorsing wat Prof Wim Naudé doen oor die oorbetalings wat emigrante maak aan hulle families by die huis.

Prof Wim is ‘n NWU-Pukke ekonoom en was die direkteur van die WorkWell Navorsingseenheid voordat hy na Helsinki toe is as ‘n senior navorsingsgenoot by WIDER. Tans is hy by die Maastricht School of Management in Nederland as Professor van Ontwikkelingsekonomie en Entrepreneurskap en navorsingsdirekteur. Volgens IDEAs/RePec tel Prof Wim onder die top-5% ekonome in Europa. Lees meer hier.