We are 100!

The Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University turned a hundred years old in 2020. A number of activities and events related to the centenary are still taking place (having been postponed due to COVID19), as can be seen in some of the posts below. Please also visit the centenary website to travel through a hundred years of history with us, and for more information on the celebratory activities.

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] .

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Young economist competition 2021 results

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-18

Congratulations to Schalk-Willem Burger ("The Upcoming Actuary") from Stellenbosch University who placed as the top SU team, and second overall, in this year's Young Economist Competition (pictured above).

Each year, the Die Burger Young Economist Competition puts first-year economics students head-to-head with the aim to predict economic variables such as CPI inflation, real GDP growth, commodity prices, and exchange rates. The enthusiasm and insight shown by the students amidst a challenging and uncertain economic environment was indeed inspiring. In first place was Parvez Parker ("Gold Standard") from the University of the Western Cape, who told us he was quite surprised to win (or even reach the top ten) as he only entered the competition because he was interested in applying theory learned in class to a real-life application. The third place went to Sibusiso Mbuyazi ("Prime Capital") from the University of Cape Town.

Many thanks to our sponsor, Die Burger, for hosting the virtual awards ceremony and for providing the prizes to the winners. To all the remaining teams who placed in the top 10, well done on a fantastic effort - we were impressed with your insight and grit! Thank you to all the students who took part in the competition, and all the best as you continue forward in your studies, and in forging a deeper understanding of Economics!

(Thanks to Lindi Boltman and Hylton Hollander for contributing to this article's text.)


Rachel's Angels: Inspirasiestories documentary airing on DStv

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-12

A documentary about the Rachel's Angel's initiative will air on DStv in November. The programme was launched in 2007 by Rachel Jafta from the Department of Economics to prepare hundreds of students from resource-poor schools for tertiary education, with a particular focus on mentoring.

Read more about this (including the airing schedule) on the faculty's news blog.


Nic Spaull earns recognition for research excellence

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-12

Nic Spaull, research Fellow at ReSEP, was recently announced as the winner of the Royal Society of South Africa's Meiring Naudé Medal, which is awarded annually to an outstanding early career scientist, "who have already made a mark in their field and who are poised to become scientific leaders". The adjudicators pointed out that "although he is only 34 years of age, he has had an especially prolific and influential research career to date. According to Google Scholar his h-index since 2016 is 22 and his research has been cited over 2700 times in the last five years."

Nic's research focus is inequality in South African schooling with a special emphasis on the acquisition of foundational skills related to reading, writing and mathematics. Among other projects, he has set up large-scale Randomised Control Trials in the Eastern Cape (50 schools) and Limpopo (120 schools) evaluating the impacts of teacher-coaches, workbooks and teacher assistants, and has recently helped initiate the well-publicised National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM), leading a consortium of over 30 researchers from six universities to understand the socio-economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic.

Nic was earlier this year awarded a coveted P-rating from the NRF, recently celebrated at an annual awards ceremony (read more about this here). He has also been appointed as an associate professor in the Department of Economics earlier this year. Detailed information on his research can be found on his own website.


Are protests replacing voting as mechanism to hold government accountable?

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-11-04

The low voter turnout in the 2021 local government elections could be because citizens have substituted protests for voting, according to a new study by Tina Fransman, a PhD student in Economics at Stellenbosch University. Working with Dr Marisa von Fintel, one of her supervisors, she explored the relationship between public service delivery, voting in elections and protest behaviour in South Africa. She constructed a unique dataset by combining data from different sources to track changes in public service delivery, voting patterns in the local and national elections between 2011 and 2019, and the location and frequency of protests in different municipalities. Her research has just appeared as a Working Paper titled Voting and protest tendencies associated with changes in service delivery (available at https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2021/wp082021).


Department celebrates centenary with Social Impact Expo

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-10-20

The Department recently hosted a Social Impact Expo at Nooitgedacht wine farm, an event that forms part of the Department's centenary celebrations. The initiative was initiated by Prof Rachel Jafta to showcase the positive effects of research and various projects in the Department on people and communities.

The expo featured a visual exhibition which highlighted the social impact of three of the department's research projects, namely the Biography of an Uncharted People Project, the Mansory phone application and a school traffic awareness research project. Additional social impact initiatives inclued Words Open Worlds (WOW), the Cape Town Carnival, Rachel’s Angels Mentorship Programme and WeCode24.

Pictured above is Master's student Lwandiso Botozo, who worked with postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Schoots, on African nationalism in the late nineteenth century (photo by Philip du Plessis). The art work forms part of the Biography of an Uncharted People Project, which has transcribed large, administrative historical records to tell new histories of people often excluded from conventional sources. Instead of simply publishing this research in academic journals – far removed from those whose stories are told – this project aims to imagine a new form of research dissemination, through art. Fourteen artists were paired with 14 students to translate the research results of the students into works of art. These works of art were displayed at the Social Impact Expo, and will be displayed again at SU's Gallery (GUS) next year.

A longer article describing some of the other projects in more detail can be read on the faculty's news blog.


NIDS-CRAM survey team finalist for NSTF-South32 Award

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2021-07-01

The NIDS-CRAM survey team has been announced as a finalist of the 2020/2021 National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South32 Awards under the Data for Research Award Category. This category recognizes the advancement of availability, management and use of data for research in South Africa.

The National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) is a collaborative effort across multiple universities in South Africa, with A/Prof. Nic Spaull of Stellenbosch University's Economics Department and A/Prof. Reza Daniels of SALDRU at UCT, as Principal Investigators of the study.


BER / SARB Internship Programme

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-05-30

The Bureau for Economic Research and the South African Reserve Bank is currently advertising internship positions suitable for students who have (or will soon) complete a postgraduate degree in Economics. Click here for further details.


Stellenbosch Economics graduate voted AU Commission Deputy Chair

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-02-15

Recently, in an African Union summit (held online due to COVID19), one of our Department's graduates, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, was elected as Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The AUC, based in Addis Ababa, consists of six commissioners (recently reduced from eight as part of a reform), a chairperson and a deputy chairperson. The AUC functions as the AU's executive branch / secretariat and is responsible for administration and coordination of the AU's activities and meetings. As Deputy Chair, Monique will in particular be responsible for the implementation and management of a large project to reform the organization, initiated in 2016 (more detail available in an article in The Conversation.)

Monique obtained her Masters degree in economics (cum laude) at Stellenbosch in 2002, followed later by a PhD in 2012, entitled "Uncertainty and Private Sector Response to Economic Development Policy in Post-Genocide Rwanda", with the late Prof Philip Black as promotor. In between her degree studies, she held high positions in the Rwandan government: State Minister for Economic Planning (2003-2008) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2008-2011). Most recently, she served as Deputy-Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda. For more detail on her career, see this KT Press article.

In 2017, Stellenbosch University recognised her achievements by awarding her an honorary doctorate.


Nic Spaull receives P-rating from NRF

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-02-12

Nic Spaull, researcher in the Department of Economics and ReSEP, was recently awarded a P-rating from the NRF. This is the highest rating that can be awarded to a postdoctoral researcher and the first time a P-rating has been awarded in Economics. Read more about this story on the University's News webpage.


Stellenbosch academics selected as Fellows of new Pan-African Scientific Research Council

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2021-02-04

Three of our staff members have been selected by the newly formed Pan-African Scientific Research Council (PASRC) as Senior Fellow (Ronelle Burger, left) and Junior Fellows (Dieter von Fintel and Kholekile Malindi, centre and right) respectively. In addition to these three staff members, Dineo Seabe, a postdoc in the Department, has also been selected as a PASRC Junior Fellow. PASRC has been set up in response to the urgent need for collaboration in scholarly research to help African governments and societies respond to the impact of COVID-19. PASRC is already involved in interdisciplinary research projects involving medical/biological researchers as well as social scientists. Research topics include the epidemiology and spread of the virus; the short- and long-term economic impact of the coronavirus on households, firms, and labor markets; and the implications for social cohesion, violence, and governance.

As Fellows, our staff members will be connected to a network of excellent African scholars out of which collaborative projects are expected to flow. There are also opportunities to influence the Council's work by participating in leadership structures, and engagement with policymakers through the Council's structures.


Department mourns passing of Archie September

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2021-01-19

Archie September, retired departmental officer of the Economics department, passed away quietly at home with his wife and children present on Monday, 11 January, after his health deteriorated over time. He was 74 years old.

Archie joined the department in 1971 and after 41 years of loyal service retired in 2012. He was much loved by colleagues and students alike and made an indelible impression on all he came into contact with.

Archie was extremely loyal to the department and his work ethic at the highest level. He was well-known throughout the university and maintained excellent personal relationships. These qualities enabled him to find a solution to almost any problem posed to him by Economics staff members. Colleagues in the department always reminded each other that if Archie couldn’t get something done, it couldn’t be done at the US.

Archie is survived by his wife, Katrina, five children (Wayne, Lizzie, Ursula, Colene & Sylvia), eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Click on the link below to read some memories of Archie shared by members of the department's staff.


In case you missed it..

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-12-03

The November EMS Faculty Newsletter highlighted a number of stories of the yast year involving the Economics Department:

1. 'Extraordinary academic' receives Schumann medal - Read about the achievements of one of our best students in recent history, Willem Wilken.

2. Nobel Laureate headlines Economic Department's centenary celebrations - A report on our recent centenary webinar.

3. #WomenofSU: Helping women find their voice in the research space - An interview with Dr Linda Zuze from the Research on Socio-Economic Policy Group (ReSEP).

4. #WomenofSU: Addressing poverty and health inequalities in Africa - An interview with Prof Ronelle Burger.


SU team placed second in securities trading game

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-11-09

This year’s International Finance FNB Securities Trading Game saw twenty-four postgraduate teams from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, and the University of Western Cape go head-to-head on a three-month live trading simulation challenge (from March to May) utilising a demo trading platform. Teams invested a hypothetical USD 100 000 in real-time foreign exchange and global stock markets, with the goal of achieving the highest return. The SU winning team, consisting of Nathan Potgieter and Jethro Tzemis (pictured above along with senior lecturer Hylton Hollander on left, and Richard Levesque of FNB Securities, right) received an FNB Securities stock broking account at zero cost plus R4 000 worth of FirstRand shares. They placed second overall, losing out in the final few days of the competition to a UCT-based team.

The objective of the exercise was for the students to test economic theory in the real world, understand international macro-developments, and encourage an investment mind-set.

The team described their experience and strategy as follows:

The FNB trading game was a fantastic experience and it offered a great contrast with the theoretical exposition that dominates academia. It was exhilarating to experience real world effects and their impacts upon markets, and we were absorbed into watching our trades grow on the platform. We did not initially experience any profitable trades, as the COVID-19 shock impacted markets within days after we invested most of our funds. Nevertheless, this allowed us to incorporate a new strategy. We understood that historically the market can almost always be counted on to overreact to initial shocks, and as such this offered a great opportunity for us to reallocate our capital into undervalued stocks. Our most profitable trade in this regard was Sasol, which had suffered massive drops in stock price attributable to the COVID-19 effects on oil demand, as well as various internal company specific issues. Initially, wary of a ‘dead cat bounce’ effect preceding a further decline, we were hesitant to overly commit. The fundamentals of Sasol appeared sound, however, as did their future prospects. Our strategy appeared to pay off, and we regained our initial capital, making significant additional returns. Overall, the FNB trading game was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

(Thanks to Hylton Hollander for contributing this article.)


Young economist prizes awarded in online ceremony

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-10-22

Congratulations to Rebecca Ellerbeck ("Absolute Advantage") from Stellenbosch University who placed as the top SU team, and third overall, in this year's Young Economist Competition (pictured right). Each year, the Die Burger Young Economist Competition puts first-year economics students head-to-head with the aim to predict economic variables such as CPI inflation, real GDP growth, commodity prices, and exchange rates. The enthusiasm and insight shown by the students amidst a challenging and uncertain economic environment was indeed inspiring. In first place was Alticia Legoka ("Economic Compass") from the University of Cape Town, and, in second place, were Yandisa Diko and Andupaline Kordom ("Forecaster") from the University of Western Cape. Many thanks to our sponsor, Die Burger, for hosting the virtual awards ceremony and for providing the prizes to the winners. To all the remaining teams who placed in the top 10, well done on a fantastic effort - we were impressed with your insight and grit! Thank you to all the students who took part in the competition, and all the best as you continue forward in your studies, and in forging a deeper understanding of Economics!

(Thanks to Euné Coetzee and Hylton Hollander for contributing this article.)

Watch the online ceremony video below (which includes a short presentation by Craig Lemboe of the BER on economic forecasting):


Stellenbosch Centenary webinar video available

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-10-19

On Friday the 9th of October, alumni, students, staff and friends celebrated the Department's Centenary by means of an extended webinar. The event featured a brief look at the Department's history and current activities and strategy by current and future Departmental Chairs (Andrie Schoombee and Ada Jansen respectively), a roundtable discussion and a keynote address by Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee.

The roundtable discussion, centered around the theme of policy coordination, featured a look at South Africa's current economic situation by panel members, who agreed that the current situation, with an unsustainable fiscal trajectory, low growth and high unemployment, is dire, though positive factors, particularly the potential of technology's contribution to economic growth, were also mentioned. A highlight of the discussion was a stark warning by the country's Minister of Finance (also honourary professor in the Department), Tito Mboweni, that if serious measures are not taken to address the worsening fiscal trajectory, South Africa is not only headed for a fiscal crisis by 2024/2025, but likely also a banking and financial crisis. Mboweni's comments at the webinar have been reported on in more detail by Fin24.

The keynote address by Professor Abhijit Banerjee (Good Economics for hard times) pointed out that, generally, there is a problem of public trust in economists and economics, and called for a rethink of economics and economists' approach to economic policy. Banerjee called for greater recognition of the role of governments in the economy (particularly at a time of crisis like the present COVID19 pandemic), the role of non-financial incentives driving behaviour, economic adjustment costs (which may be long-lasting) and making human dignity a central element of social protection policies. (Update: Read a longer report on the University's news blog here.)

Watch the video of the event below:


Two Stellenbosch professors win Montias prize

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-10-15


Two professors from the Department of Economics' LEAP group, Dieter von Fintel and Johan Fourie, won the 2020 Montias Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Comparative Economics over the past two years. The paper is entitled "The great divergence in South Africa: Population and wealth dynamics over two centuries" (available on Sciencedirect) and investigates the effects of long-run institutional shocks in South Africa's economic history on population and wealth. The paper makes the case that black South Africans lived under two extractive regimes which favoured small elites. Democracy brought inclusive institutions, however the institutional transformation remains incomplete. The paper draws out the implications for the spatial patterns of poverty in the present day.


Exciting speakers lined up for Centenary webinar

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-08-27

The Department's Centenary webinar, scheduled for 9 October 13:30 to 16:00, will feature Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee as the keynote speaker. Professor Banerjee is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among numerous prestigious positions. He is widely regarded as an authoritative thinker in development economics, and in particular the use of randomised controlled experiments in field settings, for which he was winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019, along with his two co-researchers Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. Many of our Department's researchers, particularly in the ReSEP, are intimately involved in the same types of research questions, such as the measurement of school quality's effect in educational outcomes, so Prof Banerjee's address will be a fitting celebration for the Department's centenary. The topic of his address, scheduled to start at 15:00, is "Good Economics for hard times".

The webinar will also feature a roundtable discussion on "The South African economy", obviously a vital topic in our current national circumstances. The discussants includes current Minister of Finance (and Honorary Professor), Tito Mboweni, along with Profs Rachel Jafta, Haroon Borat, Sizwe Nxedlana and Nicola Theron as moderator.

The full programme for the webinar (9 October) is:

  • 13:30 Welcoming (Stan du Plessis)

The department: past and present (Andrie Schoombee)
The department: the future (Ada Jansen)

  • 14:00 – 15: 00  Roundtable discussion: The South African economy (Tito Mboweni, Rachel Jafta, Haroon Borat, Sizwe Nxedlana, with Nicola Theron as moderator)
  • 15:00 - 16:00 Keynote address: Good Economics for hard times (Abhijit Banerjee)

Click here to register for the webinar on Zoom.


Nico Katzke and team voted FM top analysts

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-08-03

One of the Department's lecturers, Nico Katzke, along with a former master's student in the Department, Charlotte van Tiddens and their Prescient Securities teammate, Odwa Shilobo, won the Risk Analysis category and obtained second place in the Quantitative analysis category in the 2020 edition of the Financial Mail's Ranking the Analysts survey. This exceptional result flows from a survey in which domestic institutional clients of investment research and stockbroker firms complete a confidential questionnaire. The survey is regarded as the leading assessment of investment banks’ stockbroking businesses in South Africa.


Debra Shepherd wins prestigious Harvard fellowship

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2020-07-19

Debra Shepherd has recently been selected to be part of the prestigious Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship at Harvard University in the United States of America.

Dr Shepherd, a lecturer at the Economics Department and Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, research chair in Social Change and Transformation at SU, will be part of 42 fellows representing six countries selected for the 2020–2021 cohort.

Radcliffe is Harvard University's institute for advanced study and each year, the institute hosts leading scholars, scientists, artists, and practitioners from around the world in its renowned fellowship program. This year there was nearly 1 400 applicants for the fellowship.

According to Shepherd she feels “incredibly lucky" to have received this opportunity at Harvard. “I believe that this fellowship will provide me with another lens through which to engage with diverse knowledge communities, as well as building upon and expanding the networks of my department and SU," says Shepard.

Read the full article here.


Our response to covid-19

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2020-04-15

At the end of March, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a state of emergency and lockdown due to the covid-19 virus that has spread across the globe. Stellenbosch University has moved all teaching online, with classes to resume on 20 April.

Members of the Department, in addition to their online teaching duties, are also providing valuable input across many platforms to help combat the disease and its effects. The list below details some of these initiatives. The list will be updated periodically.


Willem Wilken wins Schumann medal

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2020-05-18

Willem Wilken is the 2020 winner of the prestigious CGW Schumann medal for the best postgraduate student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University. The Schumann medal is the highest student accolade in the EMS Faculty.

Willem was awarded five prizes for his academic achievements during his university career, including the Cloete medal for the best undergraduate student (over all three academic years) in Economics in 2016, best Honours student in Economics in 2017 (competing against students who offered only 120 credits) and the Cloete medal for the best postgraduate student in Economics in 2019.

Willem's high-level econometric skills resulted in him being selected a member of a team of four students to represent Stellenbosch University in 2018 at the highly prestigious World Championship of Econometrics presented by the University of Amsterdam. (Teams from the top universities in the world are invited to take part and Stellenbosch is the only representative from the African continent.) He was again selected in 2019 and this time the Stellenbosch team was placed under the top ten for the first time ever.

Willem has also been recognised for his academic excellence outside of the economics department. He was awarded a Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in 2017, elected an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellow, and is currently studying towards an MPhil (Economics) at the University of Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship.

Willem has been very active and successful in debating, in leadership positions and in serving the broader community. Regarding the latter, his coaching of the debating team of a high school in Kayamandi deserves special mention as well as volunteering at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Africa.


SU researchers lead multi-university study to track economic impacts of COVID-19

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2020-05-05

This week researchers at Stellenbosch University launched the Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM), a collaborative research project across five universities which will track the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in South Africa. The study will survey a nationally representative sample of 10,000 South Africans every month for the next six months using telephone surveys with R20 airtime incentives per respondent per wave. The survey will focus on unemployment, household income, access to healthcare, child hunger and access to government grants. 

The Principal Investigator of the study, Dr Nic Spaull from the Economics Department at Stellenbosch, explained the rationale of the study and the collaborative nature of the work: “We know that the coronavirus pandemic is the largest economic shock in our lifetime and it’s already having profound social impacts on our country. When we started seeing the data coming out of China, Italy and Spain we knew this was going to devastate our economy and trigger a global recession.” This prompted Spaull and NRF Research Chair Servaas van der Berg to see what they could do: “I mean, we were all asking ourselves what we can do to help. What is the role of researchers when faced with a global pandemic and economic catastrophe? And maybe it’s just because we’re economists and when all you’ve got is a hammer everything looks like a nail, but we kept coming back to the same thing, we need good data. Practically all surveys have stopped because enumerators can’t go into the field and collect data…There won’t even be CPI data this year” Spaull said.

In order for the study to be nationally representative the researchers realized they’d need to use telephone surveys and to link the new study to a pre-existing survey. That would allow them to use the mobile phone numbers of existing sample participants: “In order to be nationally-representative we wanted to link into one of the existing surveys targeting income and social dynamics.  So I reached out to colleagues at UCT to find out about the possibility of extending the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) which is a nationally representative panel survey focusing on income. We wanted to include a mobile phone ‘update’ of NIDS to see how things are changing on the ground. Long story short, the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency was incredibly helpful with facilitating permissions to use the data, as well as all the researchers at the Southern African Labour Development Research Unit (SALDRU) who were the implementing agent for previous waves of NIDS and now also co-investigators on the project and the implementing agent of NIDS-CRAM. It’s really been incredible to see how collaborative everyone has been.”

Fortuitously for the project, the Dean of the faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Professor Ingrid Woolard, was one of the Principal Investigators of the NIDS study at UCT before she moved to Stellenbosch University. Prof Woolard says “NIDS has been collecting data on the same 28,000 people for more than a decade so we have very rich data on the life courses of these individuals prior to the COVID crisis. The CRAM data is going to provide a statistically rigorous picture of the devastation created by the virus in order to inform timeous and targeted policy interventions. It’s been tremendously encouraging to see how quickly DPME agreed to making the sample available for this important work.”


Cobus Burger wins international data science challenge

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-03-20

Dr Cobus Burger, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Economics, was named the winner of an international data science challenge aimed at helping the South African government reduce road accident fatalities.

The competition – from October 2019 to early February 2020 – attracted 738 data scientists from across the continent and the world. Its objective was to build a machine learning model that accurately predicts when and where the next road incident will occur in Cape Town, using historic road incident data as well as traffic data from the Uber platform.

Read more about this story on the university's news page


Interdisciplinary collaboration considers road safety and social vulnerability

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2020-03-03

A workshop recently held at STIAS, Road Safety, Public Health and Social Vulnerability, brought together specialists in micro-behaviour, road design, urban planning and public policy, as well as representatives of the traffic authorities in South Africa, to discuss research aimed at promoting a comprehensive and integral approach to road safety. A key theme integrating the interdisciplinary approach is the linkage between road safety and social vulnerability, a hitherto under-researched theme in South Africa.

The workshop was hosted by the Department of Economics in collaboration with colleages from Civil Engineering and the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz in Germany.


Chancellor's Award awarded to Departmental Chair

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2019-12-20

The Economic Department's Chair, Prof Andrie Schoombee, was honoured during a December graduation ceremony by being awarded a Chancellor's Award for professional services rendered to the university. This award recognises in particular an important milestone, namely that Prof Schoombe has been heading the Department of Economics for twenty years (out of the hundred years it has been in existence) and the excellent management of the department during this period, as widely admired and appreciated by the staff in the department and colleagues in the faculty. His leadership enabled the Department to play a pre-eminent role in high quality research, teaching and community service, while also undergoing significant transformation in terms of its race and gender composition.


Economics Department in partnership to offer free coding in Cape Schools

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2019-12-11

WeCode24, a fun computer programming platform founded by Prof Rachel Jafta of the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Economic Management and Sciences was launched at the Media24 Centre in Cape Town recently. The programme is a partnership between the Economics Department, Naspers (funder) and Media24 (digital internships and media partner). Opportunities to volunteer and learn on the programme also exist for all Economic and Management Sciences students at Stellenbosch University.

WeCode24 launched as a pilot project in 2017 at four historically disadvantaged Western Cape schools to give learners from Grade 8 to Grade 11, who had little or no maths skills, a chance to learn to write code. It is now expanding to more such schools and aims to reach more than 500 Western Cape learners in 2020. Learners who participate in the programme will engage with lesson material and with each other through an online platform and community, as well as at workshops and coding clubs. Some of the topics covered in the programme are graphics, animation, games and physical computing with programmable electronics.

More information, including the launch video is available at the project website. Also read more about the launch on the university's blog and on fin24.com.


Trade Wars break out at faculty teambuilding day

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2019-11-12

Continuing in the tradition of participating enthusiastically in the EMS faculty's annual teambuilding day volleyball competition, the Economics department managed to win third place out of ten teams this year. Pictured at the event are (left to right) Prof Andrie Schoombee (HoD), the team ("Trade Wars") consisting of Kara Dimitruk ("Yoda"), Nico Katzke ("Darth Vader"), Debra Shepherd ("Rogue One"), Hylton Hollander ("Han Solo"), Prince Changole ("The Force"), Dawie van Lill ("Kylo Ren") and Gideon du Rand ("#1 supporter"). Congratulations to the team, particularly for winning a hard-fought 3rd/4th place playoff match against #4 team, team "Unbalanced" from the accounting department.


Sampie Terreblanche's documents now online

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2018-07-06

A new website – www.sampieterreblanche.org – now provides access to many of the late professor Sampie Terreblanche's documents. The prolific writings of prof Terreblanche, a legendary professor of Economics in the department who died on 17 February, has now been electronically preserved thanks to the efforts of his family and the department. The website includes links to media articles, books and hundreds of his unpublished monographs. More items will also be added over the next few months, including class notes and photographs. Plans for a bursary in his name are also in the final stages of development.


Professor Basil Moore dies at 84

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2018-03-14

Basil Moore, prominent Post-Keynesian economist, who had a more than 30 year involvement with Stellenbosch Economics, passed away peacefully on Thursday, 8 March on his farm Moore’s End in the Banghoek Valley outside of Stellenbosch. As professor of Economics at Wesleyan University in the US, Basil visited Stellenbosch University in the mid-1980s and since then taught mainly on our postgraduate programmes up until 2012. He moved to South Africa (Stellenbosch) in 1992 and was appointed professor extraordinary in the department in January 2004. He taught macroeconomics and his favourite course was a postgraduate elective module on Post-Keynesian Macroeconomics. He was an enthusiastic lecturer who did his utmost to convince his students of the Post-Keynesian view of how the world functions.

Basil Moore’s major contribution to Post-Keynesian macroeconomics was on endogenous money theory and more specifically his 1988 book Horizontalists and Verticalists: The Macroeconomics of Credit Money. This book has been particularly influential in advocating a "horizontalist" view of monetary policy, which is that in a credit-based economy, the money supply is endogenous and determined by demand, and not by central bank supply of high-powered money, as the "verticalists" believe.


Emeritus professor Sampie Terreblanche dies at 84

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2018-02-19

Stellenbosch emeritus professor Johannes "Sampie" Terreblanche, 84, passed away on Saturday, 17 February, following a brief battle with brain cancer.

To sum up Sampie Terreblanche simply as a ’maverick’ intellectual would perhaps be unfair. His progression from an Afrikaner nationalist to an advocate of its demise to an ANC supporter to a fierce critic of the ruling party was certainly spectacular and often dramatic. But each step in his fifty years as public intellectual and political economist was preceded by deep soul-searching and intense discussions with his close friends and family about how to best serve the common good.

Prof Terreblanche may ultimately be remembered for his fearlessness in speaking truth to power, and a public intellectual who constantly reminded apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa of the injustice inherent in economic inequality. It did not matter whether it was the apartheid government during the era of turbulent clashes under former presidents John Vorster and PW Botha or the ANC government whom he accused of selling out its own marginalised constituency. His harsh judgement came fifteen years after he eagerly participated in unofficial "talks about talks" with the then banned ANC in exile, paving the way for formal negotiations and a political settlement.

Prof Terreblanche never really saw himself as a research professor, but rather as a lecturing one. Because of the relatively large volume of lectures that he presented to large classes, he received the dubious distinction of probably having more total "student points" (calculated as the amount of lectures given multiplied by the number of students present in every lecture) over the course of his term as lecturer and professor than any other lecturer in the history of the University. Roughly estimating, his student points should have reached one million if all students attended all of their lectures. Unfortunately a "leakage" of 150 000 to 200 000 points took place, and Prof Terreblanche stated that it was not in his power to solve the problem.

Many of the lectures given by Prof Terreblanche were controversial and therefore the Afrikaans students decided that the acronym SAMPIE could be applied to "Suid-Afrika se Mal Professor In Ekonomie" (South Africa's crazy Economics professor). Fortunately rumour also has it that a small group of students instead called him "Suid-Afrika se Meester Professor In Ekonomie" (South Africa's master Economics professor). In one famous incident, Prof Terreblanche, after a heated ,monologue, asked the students rhetorically 'Is julle kapitaliste of kommuniste?'. From the back, a lone voice responded: 'Ons is sampioene!'

Like all his professorial predecessors in Economics at Stellenbosch, Prof Terreblanche also got involved with processes of policy formulation. Between 1973 and 1976 he was a member of the Erika Theron Commission that investigated issues related to the coloured population of South Africa. From 1979 until 1985 he was a member the Prime Minister's Council for Economic Advice. Terreblanche's involvement in the Theron Commission triggered his interest in the nature and causes of poverty.

The collection of books that Prof Terreblanche has published comprise mainly textbooks for the History of Economics and History of Economic Thought. Also, besides about twenty articles in academic journals and several chapters in books, his strong involvement in party politics is reflected in the hundreds of articles that he has written for local and foreign newspapers on political and economic issues in South Africa. For such political involvement he has received a great deal of criticism. Since retiring at the end of 1995, he has concentrated on studying the political and economical history of South Africa while still working as a part-time lecturer in the Department until 2011. He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Free State, Pretoria and Stellenbosch.

Prof Terreblanche fell ill a year ago, shortly after his wife Ina (neé Smuts) of 58 years passed away. He was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in September 2017.

He is survived by four daughters, Christelle Terreblanche, Marié Kirsten, Louise van Zyl and Carine Terreblanche, and a son, Sampie Terreblanche. He also have five grandchildren, Nina and Gerhard Kirsten, Willem and SJ van Zyl and Sam Dupper. 


Centre for Competition Law and Economics

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2018-02-02

The newly established Centre for Competition Law and Economics within the Department of Economics has recently launched its own website - click here to visit it.


Why you need to do a postgraduate degree in Economics at Stellenbosch University

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2016-12-12

Current students give their perspective on a postgraduate degree at Stellenbosch University.


Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) launched at Stellenbosch

Posted by Johan Fourie on 2015-05-30

‚ÄčSouth African research into economic history has gained momentum with the launch of the Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) at Stellenbosch University on Wednesday, 27 May.

"LEAP brings together scholars and students interested in understanding and explaining the long-term economic development of Africa's diverse societies," says Dr Johan Fourie of the Department of Economics.

"Studying the historical development of an economy provides a context for existing challenges and a source of hypotheses to explain the trajectory of its evolution."

Read the full article here, visit the LEAP website, or like the LEAP Facebook page.


ReSEP website launched

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2012-10-10

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/.


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BER Weekly

6 December 2021
The exponential rise in domestic COVID-19 cases continued last week. Importantly, the Omicron variant, responsible for the rise in domestic infections, is increasingly being detected in other countries. This fuelled financial market volatility last week. On the data front, the latest employment figures were in focus. In SA, job losses continued in 2021Q3,...

Read the full issue

Upcoming Seminars

No seminars are currently listed. Please check back soon.

BER Weekly

6 December 2021
The exponential rise in domestic COVID-19 cases continued last week. Importantly, the Omicron variant, responsible for the rise in domestic infections, is increasingly being detected in other countries. This fuelled financial market volatility last week. On the data front, the latest employment figures were in focus. In SA, job losses continued in 2021Q3,...

Read the full issue