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Podcasts

Welcome to ERSA’s Conversation Series. In these conversations, we explore topical economic issues and see how they affect our daily lives here in South Africa. Speaking to experienced and knowledgeable people in the field, we gain perspectives and insights from both a practical and a policy level.

Immigration and political preferences in South Africa

Date recorded: 
Wed, 11 November 2020

During the past week the buzz word has been ‘voting’, given the nail-biting US elections that have recently taken place. In this podcast, ERSA’s host speaks to Dr Biniam Bedasso who is an expert on South African voting behaviour. As the foundation of democracy, we must be aware of how voting behaviour changes in both young and mature democracies. With a global rise of anti-foreigner sentiment over recent years, this podcast explores how the concentration of immigrants affects political preferences and voting behaviour in South Africa. In addition to explaining his research which uses a novel panel dataset, Biniam touches on both the theoretical and practical aspects of the evolution of voting behaviour. There is also some advice for the incumbent and opposition parties, for those of...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io.

Dr Daan Steenkamp explains Nowcasting

Date recorded: 
Mon, 26 October 2020

With the unprecedented level of uncertainty in the economy, the ability to adapt has never been more important. This is especially true in the world of forecasting. In this podcast, ERSA’s host is joined by Dr Daan Steenkamp, a Lead Economist at the South African Reserve Bank, and together they discuss a recent trend in forecasting called nowcasting. Daan delves into the details of this statistical technique and refers to his research, the slides of which can be found below. This podcasts explores how economists can benefit from machine learning and big data. It would not be complete without some talk on artificial intelligence. For those curious about the world of economic modelling, this podcast is for you! We hope you enjoy.Read more

For slides, click here.

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io.

Prof Scott Baker on measuring economic policy uncertainty

Date recorded: 
Fri, 16 October 2020

Levels of uncertainty have existed throughout time yet measuring uncertainty in the past has posed many challenges. An Associate Professor of Finance from Kellogg School of Management, Prof. Scott Baker, joined ERSA’s host to discuss his novel method for measuring economic policy uncertainty. This powerful and flexible method means not only that economic policy uncertainty, but also the specific effects thereof on the economy can be measured. In his research, Scott has identified the general trend of uncertainty, its drivers, and how the level of uncertainty during the Covid 19 pandemic compares to that of other phases of history, such as Brexit or the Great Depression. For any policy maker interested in incorporating the effects on uncertainty into their policies, this podcast is not...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io.

Dr Chris Loewald on Learnings from Lockdown

Date recorded: 
Mon, 12 October 2020

Shortly after the October MPR, ERSA’s host sat down with Dr Chris Loewald, the Head of the Research Department at the Reserve Bank, and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee to discuss some of the key takings from the South African lockdown experience. We explore the relationship between the nature of the lockdown and how the economy recovers. Exacerbating pre-existing economic constraints, the lockdown has highlighted which direction policy should take to make our economy even more resilient going forward. Given the changes in the global and domestic environment, the interdependence of monetary and fiscal policy matters even more. Should there be a second lockdown, policy makers can gain some insights into what leeway there is for monetary policy to achieve its mandate of...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the image is adapted from the October Monetary Policy Review.

A new modelling network is born

Date recorded: 
Thu, 01 October 2020

Adapting to the times, ERSA introduces its new initiative – the South African Modelling Network. In this podcast, Margaux G meets up with ERSA’s Deputy Director, Prof. Nicola Viegi who has been actively involved in this new initiative. To find out more about this and what inspired this, take a listen and explore the network....Read more

Click here to learn more.

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io.

Why did South Africa’s Unemployment rate go down this Covid-Quarter?

Date recorded: 
Fri, 02 October 2020

In this podcast, ERSA’s host speaks to Isaah Mhlanga, a Chief Economist at Alexander Forbes about the latest unemployment figures released by Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Given the abnormal nature of lockdown, we discuss how Statistics South Africa had to adapt their data collection techniques and adopt a globally consistent methodology to calculate the labour force statistics. After listening to this podcast, you will have deeper understanding of why our unemployment rate went down despite the fact that job losses this quarter were in excess of job loss expectations for the year. Isaah gives some practical advice for policy makers and some insights regarding what we can expect going forward over the next few years...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io.

Prof. Estian Calitz on Fiscal Sustainability in South Africa

Date recorded: 
Wed, 08 July 2020

Shortly after the Minister of Finance gave his Supplementary Budget Speech, ERSA’s host, Margaux G met up with Prof. Estian Calitz, an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Stellenbosch who also wrote ERSA’s second Policy Bulletin. Reflecting on the current fiscal environment in South Africa, Prof. Calitz highlights some of the challenges that lie ahead. Taking into consideration the Budget Review Speech, Prof. Calitz explains that the fiscal dilemma South Africa is currently facing is not because of fiscal shortcomings alone, but rather because of shortcomings in the economy at large.

The growing debt to GDP ratio cannot be viewed as being independent of shrinking market income, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Bringing in the importance of...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by South African Tourism and can be found on Flickr.

Dr David Fowkes on QE and central bank balance sheet policies: Does South Africa have ‘magic money’?

Date recorded: 
Wed, 24 June 2020

Shortly after the Governor of the SARB gave his speech about the future of Monetary Policy in South Africa, ERSA’s host Margaux G met up with Dr David Fowkes, a Senior Economist at the South African Reserve Bank to understand which policies the Reserve Bank is using and why traditional textbooks get it wrong. Where advanced economies can use standard monetary policy tools to meet their inflation targets, it is more complicated in emerging markets. In this podcast, we unpack what the terms ‘asset purchase’, ‘quantitative easing’ and ‘zero-lower bound’ mean and shed some light on why ‘quantitative easing’ is the buzz word globally. For anyone with the slightest interest in monetary policy, this podcast is not to be missed....Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Josh Appel and can be found on Unsplash.

Prof Johannes W. Fedderke on the South African – US sovereign bond spread and its association with macroeconomic variables

Date recorded: 
Wed, 27 May 2020

In this podcast, Prof. Johannes W. Fedderke, the Director of ERSA speaks to our host, Margaux G about his research on the South African – US sovereign bond spread. The cost that the South African government faces when borrowing in open markets is high compared to safe markets such as the US, despite being low by South African standards. In his research, Prof. Fedderke looks into what drives this high yield spread and considers macroeconomic fundamentals such as economic growth, monetary and fiscal policy measures; the local asset market and foreign exchange conditions and explains to what extend the things that matter, matter. With insights into the welfare implications for South Africa’s fiscal and monetary policy going forward, especially after the large Covid-19 fiscal stimulus...Read more

For the slides, click here.

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by M. B. M. and can be found on Unsplash.

Dr Neryvia Pillay Bell on the Fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa

Date recorded: 
Thu, 23 April 2020

In this podcast Dr Neryvia Pillay Bell, a Policy Associate at ERSA and Senior Economics Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, discusses how South Africa’s labour market and the government budget have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With economic growth expected to decrease by 6%, unemployment levels are likely to rise significantly. Fortunately, the R500 billion fiscal stimulus, which is 10% of GDP and therefore one of the largest fiscal stimulus packages worldwide, will alleviate much social distress that otherwise would have occurred. South Africa is not alone in bearing the burden of an increased government deficit and becoming more reliant on domestic production. Having a phased reopening of the economy specific to geographical area will keep production going...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Clay LeConey and can be found on Unsplash.

Covid 19 text handwriting

Manoel Bittencourt on COVID-19 Economic Facts in South Africa

Date recorded: 
Wed, 08 April 2020

In this insightful video, Prof. Manoel Bittencourt, from Wits University’s Department of Economics and Finance, discusses the latest figures relating to the Coronavirus pandemic in South Africa. Using a live map showing the number of confirmed cases (provided by John Hopkins University) and data aggregators, we can see exactly how South Africa fairs relative to Sweden which has not implemented the lockdown, and the global average regarding healthcare expenditure, the share of people using the internet and the investment into primary healthcare. All of these factors have important repercussions regarding South Africa’s future. For now, though, the focus should be on making the COVID-19 testing process efficient.Read more

Click here to view.

Credits: 

The photo is by @marjan_blan and can be found on Unsplash.

South Africa by satellite

Alex van den Heever on South Africa’s public healthcare response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Date recorded: 
Wed, 08 April 2020

In this podcast Prof. Alex van den Heever, the Chair of Social Security at the Wits School of Governance discusses how South Africa’s public healthcare system is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Even although the lockdown was introduced at an optimal time, inefficiencies in the testing protocols means that we could expect a hidden outbreak going forward. Not only would this put additional strain on our healthcare system but would be costly to the economy. We should learn from our efficient TB testing practices, and from those countries who learnt how to handle respiratory pandemics such as SARS and MERS, in order to become better prepared.Read more

Credits: 

The Ari Lennox type beat used in this production, called ‘Every night’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Tai’s Captures and can be found on Unsplash.

Cape Town

Chris Loewald on the Monetary Policy response to the Coronavirus pandemic in South Africa

Date recorded: 
Mon, 06 April 2020

Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic and an economic downgrade, we speak to Dr Chris Loewald shortly after the Monetary Policy Review. As the Head of the Research Department at the Reserve Bank, and a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, he provides insights into how monetary policy can be used, alongside public health and fiscal policies, to protect the economy. After two quarters of slow economic growth in the South African economy, the real contractionary nature of the Coronavirus pandemic comes at a difficult time. Fortunately, with relatively low inflation, there is room for monetary policy to support our economy. By lowering interest rates, easing capital requirements and improving liquidity, the Reserve Bank supports businesses to continue to operate and earn income. Learnings...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Captureson Photography and can be found on Unsplash.

Compass

Nicola Viegi on the South African economic response to the Coronavirus

Date recorded: 
Mon, 06 April 2020

Nicola Viegi, Deputy Director of ERSA, talks with Margaux G on the South African economic response to the Coronavirus. Health intervention and household support is the first priority, but policies should also protect the integrity of supply chains and the integrity of labour contracts, even with temporary reductions of wages and public guarantees. The partial freeze of the economy allows speeding up infrastructure maintenance and renewal. The bureaucracy around business licensing and exporting should be simplified to the point of irrelevance. To finance these interventions, South Africa needs instruments that are efficient and coherent with its long term objectives of growth and resilience.Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Fusion Medical Animation and can be found on Unsplash.

Corona virus

Nicola Viegi on the potential impact of the Coronavirus on South Africa

Date recorded: 
Thu, 26 March 2020

In this podcast, Prof. Nicola Viegi, the Deputy Director of ERSA and SARB Chair in Monetary Policy Studies at the University of Pretoria, discusses the unprecedented nature of the Coronavirus pandemic. With unknowns regarding how long this shock will last and what the direct and indirect effects will be, there is much uncertainty regarding the impact on the South African economy. While the South African economy was somewhat sheltered during the Financial crisis, the Coronavirus and the resulting lockdown pose a real eternal shock to our economy. At times like this, it is important for Monetary and Fiscal Policy to work together to protect the economy. The resiliency of firms also matters because there will be more shocks in future – if not into the public health sector, possibly from...Read more

Credits: 

The beat used in this production, called ‘Resolutions’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Fusion Medical Animation and can be found on Unsplash.

Corona Map

Differential Impact of the Coronavirus as of end of March 2020

Date recorded: 
Thu, 26 March 2020

Professor Johannes W. Fedderke, the Director of ERSA speaks to our host, Margaux G about the initial impact of the Coronavirus on the world. Exploring the differential impact across countries by focusing specifically on the number of confirmed cases at the time and the corresponding mortality rates, we can take some valuable learnings from countries like Germany and South Korea.Read more

For slides, click here.

Credits: 

The Ari Lennox type beat used in this production, called ‘Every night’, is royalty free and can be found at freebeats.io and the photo is by Fusion Medical Animation and can be found on Unsplash.