Welcome to the Department
Welcome to the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University. We are one of the oldest Economics departments on the continent and one of the largest in the university. We are dedicated to quality research and teaching, with a focus on economic issues pertaining to South Africa and Africa. For any information not on this site, please contact the [protected email address] .
Prof Jafta new chair of Media24's board of directors
Professor Rachel Jafta, professor of Economics at Stellenbosch University, was appointed chair of Media24s board of directors on Thursday. Prof Jafta is the first woman, and first black woman, to hold this position.
Prof Jafta's research interests are in industrial economics, economics of innovation, international trade and Black Economic Empowerment. She holds a B. Econ (Hons) from the University of the Western Cape, an M. Econ and a PhD (Economics) from the University of Stellenbosch. She has received several awards from Stellenbosch University for excellence in research and community service. In 2011, she was the recipient of the University of Stellenboch's Award for Exceptional Alumni.
Prof Jafta's commitment to academic development and social change extends well beyond the university walls. She serves as a trustee for a number of the country's most renowned developmental initiatives, among them the Helen Suzman Foundation, the South African Institute of Race Relations and the Cape Town Carnival Trust, which she co-founded.
Prof Rachel is the Chairperson of the Rachel's Angels Trust, which forms part of Media24's corporate social investment programme, and has been developed in order to prepare Grade 11 and 12 learners for the challenges they might face once they have matriculated. Learners from under-privileged communities are selected to be mentored by senior University of Stellenbosch students, who help them to develop stronger business acumen and real-world skills.
Prof Jafta has been a Director of Naspers since 2003, and Media24 since 2007. Media24 is Africa's leading publishing group and offers information and entertainment 24 hours a day. The group has interests in newspapers, magazines, internet businesses, book publishing, printing plants and distribution companies.
Many of these publications and businesses are award-winning leaders in their respective fields. Media24 also has many international and local sister companies in the media industry through its holding company, Naspers.
Prof Sampie Terreblanche receives Honorary Doctorate from the University of Pretoria
The Economics Department congratulates Prof Sampie Terreblanche who will receive an Honorary Doctorate in Economics from the University of Pretoria on 10 April 2013. This will be Prof Terreblanche's second Honorary Doctorate; the University of the Free State awarded him the degree Doctor Commercii (honoris causa) in April 2005. The University of Pretoria honours Prof Terreblanche for his life long contribution to the economic discipline in South Africa, and specifically for his role in the negotiated political transition of South Africa. UP applauds Prof Terreblanche's critical role in influencing the economic strategies of both the previous and current South African governments and his important role to keep the debate about and the need for socio-economic and socio-political reform in South Africa going.
Competition policy to the fore
Dr Willem Boshoff organised a workshop on ‘Time Series and Competition Policy' from 4 to 5 March, to discuss research employing time-series data in understanding competition problems. The workshop, funded by Economic Research Southern Africa, attracted participants from South African universities, consulting firms, and the Competition Commission.
As part of his visit to the Department, Prof Daniel Rubinfeld (UC Berkeley & NYU) participated in the workshop, delivering a keynote address on challenges in merger control. Other international participants included Prof Kai Hüschelrath (ZEW & Mannheim) and Prof Elena Argentesi (Bologna).
Economics lecturer nominated for G20 Youth Summit
Kholekile Malindi, a Junior Lecturer at the Economics Department, has recently been nominated and selected to represent Stellenbosch University at the 7th annual G20 Youth Summit to be held at St. Petersburg, Russia, in April. Stellenbosch University will also be represented by two students, Sandy Majola and Emma Johannes. The trip to Russia is generously sponsored by the Rector’s office.
The G20 Youth Summit is one of four main events that are scheduled to run concurrently with each other and organised by the G20 Youth Forum. The three other events include a Conference, an International Young Parliamentarians’ Debate, and an Alumni Meeting. With regards to the Youth Summit, 150 to 200 students and young experts in G20 countries from the fields of economics, law, international relations and finance are selected to be young Heads of States and Ministerial delegates. Kholekile will be attending the Summit as the Minister of Finance. The end result of the Summit will be a report containing recommendations discussed and approved by the Summit participants. The report will be handed over to G20 Heads of States and international institutions like the IMF.
Kholekile has just recently returned from a 6 month student semester exchange to Georg-August University Goettingen. The international exposure and participation in international youth leadership events will provide an excellent springboard to launch Kholekile’s already promising academic career.
Francis Teal visits Stellenbosch
Francis Teal just completed a two week visit to the Department of Economics. He was the deputy director of the Centre for Studies of African Economies at Oxford University from 1996 until 2012 and is an international expert in the fields of applied micro-econometrics and African labour markets. He has worked on a wide range of trade and development policy issues; currently he is working on projects studying the evolution of firms in Africa and labour markets.
Dr. Teal visited Stellenbosch as part of a research project, funded by the faculty's Elite Research Fund, that attempts to measure the effect of schooling investment on the labour market outcomes of South African workers. He was also the keynote speaker at a ReSEP workshop, delivered a presentation at a departmental seminar and had meetings with graduate students about their research.
Research associates boost collaboration
Martine Mariotti, lecturer in economic history at Australian National University and research associate at Stellenbosch University, and Juergen Meinecke, lecturer in microeconomics at Australian National University are spending a mini-sabbatical in Stellenbosch from 23 January to 8 April 2013.
Dr Mariotti is an expert on quantitative South African economic history and is involved in the department through supervision and research collaboration. Dr Mariotti will also lead the ERSA Workshop on the Economics of Apartheid, to be held in Cape Town from 20 to 22 March. Both Dr Mariotti and Dr Meinecke will present seminars in the department.
Best Economics students receive awards
Several prizes were handed out on Tuesday night at the annual graduate awards ceremony at Moore's End in the beautiful Dwarsrivier Valley. Alexandra Doyle (pictured with prof Andrie Schoombee) was awarded the prestigious Cloete medal for her excellent undergraduate performance in Economics, achieving an average of 88.5% over her three undergraduate years. She is currently enrolled for a graduate degree at the University of Cape Town.
Other winners included Carel Kleynhans and Morné Hendriksz who shared the graduate Cloete medal for achieving an average of 80% in the Honours and Masters programmes, respectively. Genesis Analytics also awarded the top 5 third-year and Honours graduates.
Neil Rankin appointed as Associate Professor
Neil Rankin joined the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University in February 2013 as Associate Professor. Prof Rankin is an applied micro-economist working in the areas of labour markets, firms, pricing, trade and impact evaluation. One stream of his current research work examines the links between company performance and labour market outcomes in an African context, and particularly the impact of trade at a microeconomic level. As part of his research he has managed and administered firm and labour market surveys in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania. He is also currently the principle investigator on a number of impact evaluation projects including a randomised control trial that investigates the impact of possible interventions on youth unemployment in South Africa.
Daniel Rubinfeld visits Stellenbosch
Prof Daniel Rubinfeld will visit the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University from Wednesday 27 February to Thursday 7 March. Prof Rubinfeld is the Robert L. Bridges Professor of Law and Professor of Economics Emeritus at University of California (Berkeley) and Professor of Law at New York University. He is a distinguished academic, with wide-ranging scholarly work in applied microeconomics, econometrics, public policy, and industrial organization. His publication list includes seven books, over seventy articles in leading scholarly journals, and more than forty articles in books. Prof Rubinfeld is actively involved in competition policy practice; he was deputy assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice and acted as expert consultant in landmark US competition cases. He has held a number of visiting professorships at leading American and European universities.
Prof Rubinfeld will be presenting a seminar on Friday (1 March) in Room 104 on network effects in the airline industry and their implications for consumer welfare. Please join us for lunch on the second floor of the Schumann Building at 13:30, after which we the seminar will commence at 14:15.
Apart from the seminar Prof Rubinfeld will also:
- Present a graduate class on the econometrics of antitrust
- Act as keynote speaker at the ‘Time series and competition policy' workshop I am organizing at Stias on 4 and 5 March
Rachel Jafta delivers inaugural lecture
On Tuesday, 5 February, Professor Rachel Jafta delivered her inaugural lecture in the Department of Economics. Attended by vice-rector prof Eugene Cloete and several other dignitaries, prof Jafta reflected on the role of social entrepreneurship in society by discussing the "Economics at the Carnival: From social entrepreneurship to social cohesion". She noted that social entrepreneurship, and the innovation and creation of social capital assocated with the activities of social entrepreneurs, are increasingly seen as a means of bridging the gap between the 'formal' world of governments and corporations, and the 'informal' world of community-based organisation and the voluntary sector. Using the Cape Town Carnival as case study she argued that sentiments, such as hope and new perspectives, are not easily quantifiable and therefore often neglected in formal economic analysis.
Rapid progress in education implausible say SU researchers
Stellenbosch University's Servaas van der Berg and Nic Spaull have contested the results published by the Department of Education in December 2012 that suggest that South African Grade 1 to 6 students have made considerable advances in their numeracy and literacy abilities. According to Van der Berg and Spaull, the rapid progress would mean "we have improved more in a single year than Colombia did in 12 years from 1995 to 2007, which was the fastest-improving country of 67 countries tested in an international mathematics and science study for this period". Read the Mail & Guardian article or visit the ReSEP website for more.
Nico Katzke on proposed tax incentives for household savings
National treasury recently released two papers concerning the promotion of household savings through amendments to the saving and investment taxation guidelines for public comment and consultation purposes. The papers suggest specific amendments to current taxation exemptions on discretionary retirement and non-retirement savings through predefined collective investment vehicles, in order to stimulate savings amongst domestic households that are traditionally not too fond of saving. Nico Katzke recently wrote a comment intended to highlight the perils of exposing individuals with low financial literacy to uncertain returns in equity and property markets through such investment vehicles. Click here to read the full comment.
Department appoints extraordinary professors
Profs Basil Moore, Nicola Theron and Evan Gilbert
The Department of Economics is pleased to extend its association with three colleagues to the end of 2015. Professor Basil Moore, originally from Wesleyan University in the USA is a leading figure in the Post Keynesian macroeconomics movement. He has an association with the Department dating from 1985, and teaches a postgraduate course in Post Keynesian macroeconomics. Prof Nicola Theron is managing director of Econex Economic Consulting in Stellenbosch, has previously served on the Competition Tribunal of South Africa and is regarded as one of the foremost competition economists in South Africa. Prof Evan Gilbert has previously been an associate professor at the Department, but has since been appointed in the private sector. He specializes in financial economics, with a particular interest in behavioural finance. The three appointees are active in teaching, research and postgraduate supervision at the department.
Stan du Plessis at TEDx now on YouTube
Professor Stan du Plessis of the Department of Economics recently presented a TEDx Stellenbosch lecture - How we've cooperated our way to prosperity - which is now available on YouTube.
Winners of 2012 Young Economist of the Year announced
Jana Taljaard and Katrien Smuts (pictured) are the winners of Die Burger and Department of Economics 2012 Young Economist of the Year awards which were announced on Wednesday, 24 October. To enter, first year economics students were required to make predictions on several macroeconomic variables, including GDP growth, the inflation rate and the exchange rate. The team of Barend Venter, Jacobus Swanepoel and Christiaan Mulke were runners up, while Jacobus de Bruin and Deleen Marie came third.
Goals and conduct of monetary policy discussed in presidential address
In his presidential address to the Economic Society of South Africa's Annual General Meeting in Johannesburg during September 2012, Professor Stan du Plessis discussed the goals and instruments of monetary policy. According to Du Plessis, an extraordinary consensus on the goals and conduct of monetary policy has been undermined by the international financial crisis and the faltering recovery in many economies. There is an evident need to pay closer attention to developments of asset markets and in the financial sector, which has opened a discussion on the appropriate goals for monetary policy. Meanwhile, central banks have employed controversial balance sheet operations to restore market stability and encourage economic recovery. He argues that both these developments reflect earlier concerns in monetary policy: prior to the modern consensus both balance sheet policies and an emphasis on financial stability were central concerns of monetary authorities and the future of monetary policy is likely to rhyme with its past. Download the Working Paper here.
ReSEP website launched
The Research on Socio-Economic Policy (ReSEP) group at the Department of Economics today launched a new website which will serve as a resource for researchers and policy-makers interested in issues surrounding socio-economic development in Southern Africa. Spearheaded by Professor Servaas van der Berg, the ReSEP group consists of members of the Department of Economics, contract research staff and graduate students, and developed around a long term research focus on issues of poverty, income distribution, social mobility, economic development and social policy. The new website contains information on ReSEP’s involvement in various research projects, provides access to downloadable working papers, policy briefs, and other research reports produced by members of the ReSEP team, and will in time also provide access to further learning and training materials for policy-makers, researchers, students and others interested in policy debates. Visit the new website at http://resep.sun.ac.za/.
Stellenbosch students win ESSA Founder's Medals
Stellenbosch has done exceptionally well by winning two of the four Founder's Medals of the Economic Society of South Africa this year. The prizes are awarded annually for the best long essay/thesis in Honours, Masters (full and partial) and Doctoral degrees at South African universities.
Jonathan Reader, who studied for an Honours degree at Stellenbosch last year, was awarded the prize for the best Honours (long) essay for his work "Institutional consequences of foreign aid" under supervisor Dr Sophia du Plessis. In this work, Jonathan considered the unintended consequences of aid on the recipient country from an institutional perspective, focusing on the aid-institutions paradox, where the analysis of aid and institutions is treated as a parallel to the resource curse.
The other winner is Dr Willem Boshoff, senior lecturer in the department, who was awarded the prize for best doctoral thesis. His supervisor was Prof Stan du Plessis. His thesis is entitled "Conceptual and empirical advances in antitrust market definition with application to SA competition policy", in which he developed quantitative tools for market demarcation. This is an important contribution, as much of competition policy uses the concept of a market as the basis for adjudication, but the way in which a market is defined will largely affect the level of market power a firm is judged to have, and consequently the appropriate response by competition authorities. An important theme in the study is that more success is secured if multiple tools of market definition are applied in demarcating markets and discovering anti-competitive actions. The exposition presents these multiple tools under three headings viz. consumer characteristics, price-time-series tests and market definition under uncertainty. Apart from the conceptual/methodological contributions, the thesis included applications of the different approaches to real world cases with relevance to South Africa.
National Research Foundation renews Chair in the Economics of Social Policy
The Department of Economics will host the Research Chair in the Economics of Social Policy for a further five years after the National Research Foundation (NRF) agreed to continue its funding. The Chair is held by Professor Servaas van der Berg and supports numerous researchers and the production of highly acclaimed research outputs in the Department.
Further details are available here.
World Economic History Congress 'huge success'
Despite the cold weather, the 2012 World Economic History Congress, hosted by the Economic History Society of Southern Africa and the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University, was deemed a 'huge success' by organisers and delegates alike. The Congress, held from 9 to 13 July for the first time on the African continent, was attended by more than 800 delegates from 59 countries.
The Congress included fifteen parallel sessions over five days, an opening ceremony and plenary, a welcoming dinner (sponsored by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University), a cultural evening (pictured, photo by Reinhardt Germishuijs) and a closing debate.
"We had a great time in Stellenbosch. It was a superbly well organised congress. Congratulations!" said Leandro Prados de la Escosura, Professor of Economic History at Carlos III University, Madrid, summarising the general mood on Friday after the closing debate between Gareth Austin and James Robinson. The next host - Kyoto 2015 - was introduced at the closing ceremony.
Policy briefs to disseminate research
The Economics Department formally released its first policy brief on Thursday. The Policy Brief initiative is aimed at creating a wider audience for the research of the Department of Economics. The policy briefs are intended to be a jargon-free summary of a selection of research studies that are policy-relevant or closely linked to public debates. As a rule, the research would be recent work that is not yet published in a journal or a book.
If you are interested in receiving notifications of the release of a new policy brief, please send an email with your name and affiliation to Carina Smit (email@example.com). The first policy briefs are available under Research, Policy Briefs or, alternatively, follow the link http://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/policybriefs/2010/