Johan Fourie's blog

I'd rather be a comma than a fullstop

Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Five young economists to listen to, and how their ideas might shape our future

leave a comment »

Es liegt an uns, wohin der weg fhrt !

Ideas, and the people that give birth to them, shape our future. The British economist John Maynard Keynes articulated it best: ‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.’ So, on this final day of 2018, let us look at five young economists, and their ideas at the frontiers of the field, that will shape our lives, consciously or otherwise, in 2019 and beyond.

One of the most vexing questions social scientists grapple with is how to build a society where everyone has an equal opportunity of reaching the top. Inequality is not in itself unfair: we all know that rare skills, like those possessed by Messi or Musk, should be rewarded more than the rest of us. But what we deem to be unfair is when someone with those skills or abilities cannot, for whatever reason, realise their potential.

In the US, as in South Africa, there are too many children without equal opportunities for success. How to give these children better chances of succeeding is, in short, the research programme of Raj Chetty, professor of Economics at Harvard University and Director of Opportunity Insights, a think tank that aims ‘to develop scalable policy solutions that will empower families throughout the United States to rise out of poverty and achieve better life outcomes’. Somewhat of a child prodigy, receiving his PhD from Harvard in 2003 at the age of only 23, his most recent project, together with several other colleagues, uses ‘big data’ to map the neighbourhoods in America that offer children the best chances of climbing the income ladder. Their freely available interactive mapping tool show how outcomes like poverty and incarceration can be traced back to the neighbourhoods in which children grew up. More importantly, it also helps to develop customised solutions that will improve the outcomes of children in those ‘bad’ neighbourhoods.

One of Chetty’s younger colleagues is Melissa Dell. Graduating with a PhD from MIT in 2012, Dell spent time at Harvard and Stanford before joining Harvard in 2018 as a tenured professor. Dell is fascinated by the factors that underpin long-run development. For her PhD, she investigated the Mita – a system of forced labour several hundred years ago – to assess its persistent effects on levels of Peruvian income today. She has since worked on the persistent differences between north and south Vietnam, the long-run effects of the Mexican revolution and the consequences of the Dutch cultivation system in colonial Java.

What makes Dell’s career even more impressive is that she has a severe visual impairment. And yet, this has not prevented her from, aside from asking fascinating research questions, starting a foundation in Peru or running ultra-long-distance races, including the Comrades!

Dell is one of three women on my list, a comforting sign in a field that is still mostly the domain of men. Claudia Olivetti, Professor of Economics at Boston College (with a PhD in 2001 from the University of Pennsylvania), is one of several scholars who wants to understand which factors prevent women from entering the labour market, and why they move up at the corporate ladder a slower pace. Olivetti’s latest research shows that the best thing the government can do is to spend more on early childhood care and education as this has the largest improvement in women’s employment rates, salaries and even fertility, decreasing the gender pay gap. The benefits of more parental leave and flexible schedules, she finds, are smaller. Why is this? Because access to good early childhood caretakers that makes it easier for young mothers to work allows women to return to the labour market quicker after childbirth, boosting their life-time earnings. In short: the policies that matter most to women are those that help mothers work – not those that help them take breaks from work.

This type of research aims to identify which policies are best in improving the outcomes we hope for. Another area where such policies are desperately needed, in South Africa and elsewhere, is the health sector. Marcella Alsan, who is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine with a PhD in Economics from Harvard in 2012, plans to do exactly that: use research to identify which health policies improves health outcomes most. One key concern in health, for example, is how to get clients to use their prescribed medicine. Alsan, in a new study, provides one tantalizing clue: pair the patients with doctors that share a similar ethnic background. She and her co-author runs an experiment where several hundred black patients are randomly allocated white and black physicians. They find that those patients that consulted a black physician are more likely to ask for preventative services, particularly if those services are invasive. They argue that this is because of better communication and trust. The implications are profound: they argue that more black doctors could reduce cardiovascular mortality by 16 deaths per 100 000 per year, leading to a 19% reduction in the black-white male gap in cardiovascular mortality.

It is not only human health that is the subject of economic research. The health of the planet is under threat, with climate change affecting our sustainable future. Solomon Hsiang, Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and Principal Investigator of the Global Policy Laboratory (with a PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University in 2011) is one of the leading thinkers on the topic. In a recent Science letter, he weighed in on the ivory-ban discussion. But it is the interactions between the economy and the ecology that is at the heart of his research. In a 2018 Journal of Economic Perspectives overview paper, Hsiang urges his fellow economists to take the lead on climate change research: All climate change forecasts, he says, rely heavily and directly on economic forecasts for the world. ‘On timescales of a half-century or longer, the largest source of uncertainty in climate science is not physics, but economics.’ The lesson? It is not only us, but our children and grandchildren too, that are the slaves of some defunct economist!

*An edited version of this article originally appeared in the 6 December edition of finweek.

Advertisements

Books for the (South African) summer (2018 edition)

with one comment

It’s that time of year again: sun, sand, sea… and softcovers! Here are the top seven books I read this year, and a list of what I hope to read this summer.

BlackWashington Black, by Esi Edugyan

A beautiful and brilliant book about Wash, an early nineteenth-century Caribbean boy who escapes the brutal life of a slave (by building an air balloon), and then journeys the world from the Arctic to London to Morocco on a (surprising) scientific quest.

Silence of the Grave, by Arnaldur Indriðason

Whenever I visit a new country, I try to read at least one local crime novel. On a 12 day visit to Iceland in August, I read through four of Indriðason’s superb crime novels. Silence of the Grave is his most celebrated, and my favourite.

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu, by Charlie EnglishFishing

The past and the present of West Africa are interwoven in the stories of twenty-first century book smugglers and eighteenth-century European discoverers.

Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization, by Brian Fagan

It was not only the domestication of grains that allowed us to conquer the globe. Fishing fed human settlement, rising social complexity, the development of cities, and ultimately the modern world. To be enjoyed with fish and chips…

MarriageMarriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz

Already published in 2006, this accessible history of marriage is both remarkable in its breadth and invaluable as a conversation starter. You may have married for love, but it is highly likely that your grandparents (and certainly their grandparents) did not.

Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society, by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl

An engaging and provocative view on how markets can reshape society. Particularly relevant for South Africa.

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, by Walter Scheidel

Inequality is deepening, and people everywhere are demanding policies that purport to reduce it. Don’t be overly optimistic about these attempts, says Scheidel. A sober view on a topic that will be with us for a long time to come.

On my (non-fiction) reading list this summer:

PlaatjeSol Plaatje, by Brian Willan

Europe in Flames: The Crisis of the Thirty Years War, by John Matusiak

Go Tell the Crocodiles: Chasing Prosperity in Mozambique, by Rowan Moore Gerety

Capitalism in America: A History, by Alan Greenspan, Adrian Wooldridge

Nabokov’s Favourite Word Is Mauve: The literary quirks and oddities of our most-loved authors, by Ben Blatt

Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition, by Francis Fukuyama

Unai Emery: El Maestro: The Authorised Biography, by Romain Molina

 

Written by Johan Fourie

December 17, 2018 at 08:00

Ramaphosa’s number one challenge: getting rid of patronage politics

leave a comment »

Ramaphosa Investment

President Ramaphosa is on an investment offensive. Because the South African economy is stalling, he is desperate to attract investors who will create jobs and boost incomes. One way to do that, he believes, is by hosting summits; a Jobs Summit in early October and an Investment Summit a few weeks later would just be the thing to invigorate investor appetite for South Africa.

It was a hard sell. Not only is global economic growth on the wane, but South African internal policies and politics are not creating the stable, low-risk environment that investors crave when the returns are unlikely to be double digits. Whatever the merits of land redistribution, calls for what seems to be an unnecessary constitutional change to allow expropriation create uncertainty. An inability to reduce crime, the one issue that affects all South Africans, makes our country less attractive as an investment destination; The Economist’s recent article on Cape Town’s high murder rate, for example, will undoubtedly hurt tourism. And though Tito Mboweni’s appointment seems to have satisfied markets, it is never a good sign to have a revolving door for the second most important office in government.

All of these ills are rooted in our public sector incompetence – the result of a bureaucracy built on patronage rather than the efficient provision of public services – that makes doing business an expensive and frustrating exercise.

This is the one thing Ramaphosa’s government must begin to address if we are to create the right conditions for growth. As Guo Xu of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley notes in an upcoming American Economic Review paper: ‘State capacity is fundamental to development and growth. Bureaucrats are a key element of state capacity: they embody the human capital of the state and are responsible for the delivery of public services and the implementation of policies. Understanding how to promote and incentivize bureaucrats is central to improving organizational performance.’

For much of human history, bureaucrats were appointed through patronage. The way you moved up in society was mostly the result of who you knew rather than what you knew. Even in the United States today, more than 8000 federal positions are still allocated ‘at the pleasure of the president’ (if, of course, he is competent enough to do so). It is also not only in government that you find patronage; we often see family ties and personal connections play an important role in new board appointments.

Theoretically at least, patronage can be a good thing. Loyalty to the superior may incentivise subordinates to not shirk on their work. But patronage can also be bad for organisational performance, as favouritism may disincentivise subordinates to work at all because they have the protection of their superior.

For long, though, it was difficult to prove which of these two outcomes are most likely to occur. Xu, however, has found a novel approach to do just that. He transcribed thousands of personnel and public finance records of the British Colonial Office during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He then measured how closely governors in the colonies are connected to the Secretary of State, the official in England who appointed them. He shows that governors connected to the Secretary – as family members, members of the same party, or even as school buddies – enjoy higher salaries through the promotion to higher paid and larger colonies. However, this is only true for the period before the Warren Fisher Reform, a policy that changed the appointment process from patronage to meritocratic.

It is not only that these appointments (before the Reform) earn higher salaries. They also perform worse. Xu finds that a colony’s public revenue performance declines in years when a governor with close ties to the Secretary of State rules. ‘This is consistent’, says Xu, ‘with the interpretation that patronage exerts a negative effect on the performance of socially connected governors. Consistent with the previous result, the fiscal performance gap disappears after the removal of patronage.’ The lesson? Patronage is bad for performance.

A new NBER study sheds some light about why this might be. The three economists use very detailed information, including firm-level balance sheet data, social security data, patent data and detailed data on local elections in Italy (between 1993 and 2014), to show that firms that are more connected to politicians are likely to be less productive. They identify a leadership paradox: ‘When compared to their competitors, market leaders are much more likely to be politically connected, but much less likely to innovate. In addition, political connections relate to a higher rate of survival, as well as growth in employment and revenue, but not in productivity’. It seems to work like this: when a firm has strong political connections, they use these connections, legally or illegally, to get preferential contracts, tariffs or other regulations that allows them to beat the competition. When a firm has few or no political connections, they are forced to innovate to be better than the competition. It is ultimately the more innovative firms that are more productive and dynamic.

Patronage, the evidence shows, is a terrible system. It has also become endemic in the South African state. Without attempts at addressing a patronage system that pervades all levels of government, no Investment Summit will push South Africa’s economic growth to where it needs to be.

*An edited version of this article originally appeared in the 8 November edition of finweek.

Written by Johan Fourie

December 10, 2018 at 08:00

Why are there so many single mothers?

with 2 comments

Family

Here is a statistic to get your head around: Of the 989 318 babies born last year in South Africa, 61.7% have no information about their father included on their birth certificate. We don’t precisely know why the women who register these babies do not record the father’s information, but it is highly likely that it is because the father would not want to be involved in the raising of the child. They are, in fact, single mothers. This conjecture seems to be supported by other evidence: the HSRC estimates that 60% of South African children have an absent father, and that 40% of mothers are single parents.

Explaining why these mothers are single is not easy. One argument is historical. Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, young men would move to the mines, away from structured family life in the countryside. This migrant labour system, it is said, would explain the large number of single women. While plausible theoretically, this explanation neglects a key empirical reality: that the share of single mothers is on the increase. The migrant labour system, owing to the apartheid-era homeland system, was arguably most intense during the twentieth century. And yet this is also the period where the share of single mothers was much lower. The number of migrant workers fell after the dismantling of apartheid settlement policies and, since the 1990s, the decline of the mining industry. Yet it is exactly then that we see a significant rise in the share of single mothers.

If the migrant labour cannot explain the large numbers of single mothers, what else could? Dorrit Posel and Stephanie Rudwick, in a paper published in 2014 by the African Studies Association, show that the Zulu, in particular, have very low marriage rates, as low as 30%. Perhaps, you might argue, it is just that women prefer to be single – that an unmarried life is better than a married one. Well, the evidence does not support this theory. Using survey data, Posel and Rudwick find that this is not a preference: more than 80% of unmarried Zulu women report that they would like to get married (as do the men, incidentally). The reason they attribute to women remaining unmarried despite their wish to be married is lobola, or bride wealth: ‘Our qualitative data demonstrate that frequently the way ilobolo is practiced, and particularly the amount that is requested relative to men’s opportunities in the South African labour market, can contribute to delayed marriage and nonmarriage.’

Both the migrant labour and lobola systems are unique to southern Africa. But the share of single mothers has been rising almost everywhere. In fact, 62% of all births to non-college educated mothers in the United States in 2014 were to unmarried women, very similar to the South African figure. Something more universal seems to be behind these trends.

One possibility is that men’s poor economic conditions contribute to them delaying or eschewing marriage. This is the argument Posel and Rudwick put forward, but one that is also found for the United States, where non-college educated men’s relative incomes have declined over the last three years. A new paper, soon to be published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, tests whether it is, in fact, men’s poverty that prevents them from marrying. The two authors, Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson, link the fracking of shale gas in the 2000s to marriage rates. The idea is that, if the hypothesis is true that men do not marry because of poor economic conditions, then a fracking boom, which would create more employment and lead to higher incomes, should result in larger numbers of men being willing and able to marry. Kearney and Wilson use a sophisticated statistical analysis to show that 1) there is no impact on higher incomes of non-college educated men on the likelihood of getting married, 2) there is a boost to fertility rates after their income improves, but this increase is similar for both married and unmarried men. They conclude: ‘We find no evidence from the fracking context to support the proposition that as the economic prospects of less educated men improve, couples are more likely to marry before having children.’ In short: it’s not poverty that prevents marriage.

So what is it then? One possibility is that it might be higher female incomes. Not only have women entered the labour market at historic levels since the 1960s, but social transfers to support children has also increased. Both sources of income would give women more agency (or bargaining power) within the household, and reduce the need to live with an income earning partner. While much evidence shows that giving women more household resources improves the outcomes for children, it may have the unintended consequences of absolving men from their child-rearing responsibilities. Thomas Sowell, a US libertarian economist, notes that in 1960, almost a hundred years after the end of slavery in the US, 22% of African Americans grew up in households with only one parent. ‘Thirty years later, after the liberal welfare state, that number had more than tripled. We can speculate as to how much of that 22% was due to slavery, but we know that that tripling was not due to the legacy of slavery. It was due to the legacy of a whole different set of policies.’

But it is also not that easy. The rise in single mothers, although it has increased in the last two decades, began before the child support grant was introduced in South Africa. Pensions may play a role, but it is unclear to what extent they alone can explain the rise in single motherhood.

Family structure is rapidly changing. More children are now growing up with one rather than two parents. Even if the causes remain fuzzy, one thing is certain: the consequences are likely to be profound.

*An edited version of this article originally appeared in the 26 September edition of finweek.

Written by Johan Fourie

October 26, 2018 at 08:00

A radical solution to land ownership

with one comment

Farmland

What if I could offer you the following three outcomes – 1) an increase in government revenue to the extent that a Basic Income Grant (BIG) can be afforded, 2) a substantial decline in wealth inequality, and 3) a sustainable solution to the land crisis – with just one policy intervention? Fantastic, you’d say, but naïve and, frankly, absurd. There is no policy that we know of that can tackle these immense societal challenges, all in one go.

Wait, I’m not done yet, I’d answer. This policy would make it much easier to build infrastructure, get rid of derelict buildings, would ramp up GDP per capita significantly, and would foster social cohesion.

Seriously? Don’t be ridiculous, you’re dreaming, you’d respond. And to do this, I’d continue, we’d need to do two things that seem almost directly opposed to one another. We need to expand markets. You might nod in agreement, something sensible for the first time. Oh, and we must abolish private property altogether.

This, in short, is the recommendation by two economists, Erik Posner and Glen Weyl, in their new book Radical Markets. Critics seem to agree that this is something worth discussing; Kenneth Rogoff calls this ‘perhaps the most ambitious attempt to rethink democracy and markets since Milton Friedman’.

Although their ideas have huge implications for democracy and immigration too, I will focus here on their first chapter, and probably the one most relevant to South Africa currently: property. They propose a Common Ownership Self-Assessed Tax (COST) on wealth. Property, they argue (like many economists before them), are inevitably monopolistic, and monopolies create inefficiencies in the market. Their COST aims to remove these allocative and investment inefficiencies by introducing a live auction for every asset in society.

So, how does it work? Let’s take Khulekani. His young family has just expanded, and so he wants to buy a new house. He would go to a website – let’s call it UmhlabaWethu.co.za – and open a sort-of Google Maps that will allow him to see every property in South Africa, valued by the owner of the property. He can then decide to buy any property, by just clicking on the property, at the price the owner has listed. The ‘right to exclude’, one of the central tenets of private ownership, is therefore waived in this new system. Every property owned by a company or individual (or government!) must be valued and listed.

So, what prevents owners from just making excessively high valuations, making Khulekani’s attempt at buying a house impossible? Tax. In this system, each owner will pay an annual tax on the self-assessed value of their property, thereby waiving the ‘right to use’, the second central tenet of private ownership. The authors explain: ‘In the popular image of private property, all benefits from use accrue to the owner. Under a COST, on the other hand, a fraction of this use value is revealed and transferred to the public through the tax; the higher the tax, the greater the fraction of use value transferred.’

In other words, all property in South Africa would be on a permanent auction, where the current user of the property determines the price (but pay for that price in tax). It’s almost like Uber, for property.

Imagine a private investor wants to build a high-speed monorail in Cape Town. To do this at present would be almost impossible, as owners of properties on the intended route would hold out for a high price, knowing that they have monopoly bargaining power. A COST would allow an investor to go online and buy up all the properties at the listed price, combine them, and start building the monorail. (Of course, they must also value that property, and pay tax. If another investor believes they can build a more profitable monorail, they might just buy-out the original investor’s right of use.)

Or imagine that the property tax is returned to citizens as a Basic Income Grant. By the authors’ rough calculations, every US citizen from a similar system could receive $20000 annually, which for most would be far less than they would be paying in tax. By their estimates, it would only be the richest 1% property owners that would be paying more than they receive – and often a lot more. This not only reduces inequality (by 4 Gini points, according to their estimates), but it also acts as a subsidy for the poorest.

In South Africa, COST tied to a BIG could do far more to alleviate poverty and address inequality than a policy like expropriation. Unproductive land would be a direct cost to all society: higher property values paying more tax mean that more can be redistributed to everyone. As the authors note, ‘a world in which everyone benefits from the prosperity of others would likely foster higher social trust, a factor essential to the smooth operation of the market economy’.

‘The sharing of wealth would be in accord with many commonsense notions of justice. Wealth is rarely created solely by the actions of the people who are paid for it under capitalism. They normally benefit from the help of friends, colleagues, neighbours, teachers, and many other people who are not fully compensated for their contributions. A COST would better proportion the distribution of wealth o the labour that created it.’

This is a radical proposal. It might have unintended consequences that we cannot currently imagine. That’s why the authors propose a piecemeal adoption of these policies. That is a sensible approach. Experimentation will be needed, perhaps even within one municipality first.

But the radical economic transformation that COST can accomplish is a lesson in how creative thinking – and perhaps a willingness to put away our ideological differences – can help find solutions to a problem that we had thought to be insurmountable.

*An edited version of this article originally appeared in the 13 September edition of finweek.

Don’t bet against the historians

leave a comment »

PikettyWEHC

Every three years, economic historians from across the globe gather in one place to discuss the latest research in our field. And so it was again this year that, in early August, more than 1400 of these interdisciplinary scholars convened at MIT in Boston for the latest rendition of the World Economic History Congress (WEHC). It was hot and humid outside, but inside the conference and classrooms, the discussions were no less heated.

Normally a friendly and somewhat reserved crowd, it is as if the political developments of the last three years has forced economic historians out of their slumber. That classic history cartoon – an old man sitting in his rocking chair saying ‘Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it’ – seems more apt than ever. As always, there were papers on esoteric topics such as occupational mobility in early-twentieth century Greenland, wine glasses in China during the eighteenth century, or what pollen data can tell us about market integration in Ancient Greece. But it seemed to me, now at my fourth WEHC, that this year the research questions were more aimed at the big questions of the present: How does globalisation lead to populist pushback? Why are inequalities increasing in rich countries, and what can be done about it? How do entrepreneurs use (abuse) networks to become successful? History offers clues (but no quick-fix answers) to all these questions.

Two plenary sessions exemplified this. On the last day of the conference, Jane Humphries and Claudia Goldin debated the missing role of women in economic history. While Humphries, professor of Economic History at Oxford University, discussed the importance of women to the Industrial Revolution, Goldin, a professor of Economics at Harvard, discussed the more recent transition of women into the labour market. She showed, by using extensive data from Harvard Business School graduates, how the gender wage gap can to a large extent be explained by women’s preferences for flexible work. This, she argued, what can be done to close the gap further: women prospered in teams where their skills are substitutable. Instead of operating as a single physician, for example, female doctors were much more likely to stay in the labour market and work more hours if they worked as part of a team of medical experts.

But the big event of the congress was undoubtedly Thomas Piketty’s plenary session. Piketty, who is professor of Economics at the Parish School and known for his best-seller Capital in the 21st Century, has now shifted his inequality work to the political realm. He made a compelling case that the expansion of higher education has altered the traditional alliances in politics. Using three case studies – of France, England and the US – he showed that support from the intellectual elite – those with university degrees – has increasingly shifted to the left in all three countries over the last three centuries. For example, in 1948, less than 20% of all voters with a Masters degree voted for the US democratic candidate; in 2016, it was 70%. Why? Remember that the Democratic Party in the US (or the Labour Party in the UK) is more in favour of redistribution than the Republican Party (or the Conservative Party). For that reason, they tend to get most of their support from the poor (or, at least, those that stand to benefit from redistribution). But the poor is not uneducated anymore. In 1948, slightly more than 20% of voters had a tertiary degree, while in 2016, it was more than 50%. By definition, of course, if 50% of voters have a university degree, they cannot all be in the richest 10%. This means that there has become a disconnect between the educated and the rich. That is why, according to Piketty, new political positions become possible; he identifies four groups of almost equal size that have now emerged in his native France: internationalist-egalitarian (pro-migrant, pro-poor), internationalist-inegalitarian (pro-migrant, pro-rich), nativist-inegalitarian (anti-migrant, pro-rich), and nativist-egalitarian (anti-migrant, pro-poor). The success of Emmanuel Macron was that he could appeal to multiple of these groups.

‘Politics has never been a simple poor vs rich conflict’, says Piketty. ‘One needs to look at the multi-dimensional content of political cleavages.’ We also see this play out in the South African context. The ANC is currently a broad church – from the rural poor to the urban sophisticate. But how long can they maintain this delicate balance, when issues such as globalisation, migration and automation will have decidedly negative effects on one part of their electorate while benefiting another? And these clashes may not be along the fault lines of yesteryear. Capital and labour, poor and rich, educated and uneducated are now in flux. As Piketty says, the US might be returning to the 19th century political alignment, with globalists (high-income, high-education) on one side and nativists (low-income, low-education) on the other. Or it could go the route of the Democratic Party in the US, whose pro-slavery/segregationists introduced poor white policies which also benefited poor blacks. Or we could instead see the re-emergence of a globalist-egalitarian elite like we did in the aftermath of World War II, a system that resulted in the end of colonialism and a global Golden Age of growth.

The high levels of inequality in South Africa would make the continuation of a single, unified ANC seem unlikely in the medium to long run. Rapid globalisation, automation and increasing pressure on immigration are fissures that even a great leader will be unlikely to control. If history (and economic historians) have anything to add, it is that the future is unlikely to be just a continuation of the present.

**An edited version of this article originally appeared in the 30 August edition of finweek.

Written by Johan Fourie

October 8, 2018 at 08:00