Why SA isn’t getting the growth it needs

The Covid Project — a research project to assess SA’s economic prospects after the pandemic — has concluded that the country’s growth plan is not working. More informed reforms are urgently needed. The findings of the Covid Project — a series of independent papers commissioned from several of SA’s leading research economists — are alarming […]

COVID-19 and the South African Economy

Discussion Document 02 As South Africa looks to navigate itself out of a COVID-induced recession and to restore economic growth and create new jobs, a more active and informed policy response is needed. As a small, open and exposed economy, the policy options available to South Africa are somewhat limited. The uncertain global environment, coupled […]

Dr Channing Arndt on Building back fairer from the Covid-19 Pandemic in South Africa


Post-pandemic, South Africa’s economy finds itself in a constrained fiscal environment yearning for economic growth. Without increased government spending, how can it rebuild itself in a way that reduces the uneven distribution of the pandemic’s burden? In this podcast, ERSA’s host is joined by Dr Channing Arndt, economist, head of the Environment and Production Technology […]

Part 4: Building back for a sustainable future

The discussion is based on two papers: “Building back fairer from the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa: Some first step reforms in an era of fiscal constraints”, by Channing Arndt, Robert J. Davies, Sherwin Gabriel, Laurence Harris, Michael Sachs and Dirk van Seventer and “Building a competitive and dynamic green industrial sector in South Africa” […]

Dr Matthew Stern on understanding South Africa’s trade policy and performance


An issue often overlooked in many discussions is that of exports and trade in the South African economy. But with a downward trajectory over the past 20 years having indirectly cost our general economy up to $50 billion a year, this sector is fundamental to growing our economy. The role of international trade cannot be […]

Part 3: International perspectives and South Africa’s trade policy

The discussion is based on two papers: Covid-19 and Lockdown Policies: A Structural Simulation Model of a Bottom-Up Recession in Four Countries by Sherman Robinson, Stephanie Levy, Victor Hernández, Rob Davies, Raul Hinojosa, Sherwin Gabriel, Channing Arndt, Dirk van Seventer, and Marcelo Pleitez and Understanding South Africa’s trade policy and performance by Matthew Stern and […]

Part 2: Recovery policies and labour utilization

The discussion is based on two research papers: Recovering from COVID-19: Economic scenarios for South Africa by Dirk van Seventer, Channing Arndt, Robert J. Davies, Sherwin Gabriel, Laurence Harris, and Sherman Robinson and Addressing low labour utilisation in South Africa, by Christopher Loewald, Konstantin Makrelov and Andreas Wörgötter (see below) that explores the main challenges […]

Part 1: Monetary policy and Covid-19 in South Africa

The discussion is based on Sailing into the Wind: evaluating the (near) future of Monetary Policy in South Africa, by Tumisang Loate, Ekaterina Pirozhkova and Nicola Viegi, that explores how monetary policy seeks to maintain price stability in the emerging post-COVID economic environment: What are the underlying constraints that affect monetary policy making? What constraints […]

Addressing low labour utilisation in South Africa

Policy Paper 27 South Africa’s stubbornly low labour utilisation rate is an international outlier and a heavy brake on the ambitions for growth and redistribution published in various strategic policy strategies (National Planning Commission 2013). More immediately, low labour utilisation is a major obstacle to the post-COVID-19 employment recovery. The purpose of this paper is […]

Understanding South Africa’s trade policy and performance

Policy Paper 26 South Africa’s exports have lagged behind the rest of the world over recent decades, and this has likely constrained overall economic growth. There are multiple reasons for this disappointing trade performance, including the structure of the country’s export basket (which remains dominated by commodity products), its dependence on a limited number of […]

Sailing into the Wind: evaluating the (near) future of Monetary Policy in South Africa

Policy Paper 25 This paper evaluates the main challenges facing South African monetary policy. We focus on three main issues: the external environment, the growth potential of the economy and its fiscal balance. The external environment will remain uncertain and volatile and South Africa monetary policy should increase the number of tools available to deal […]

Financial Statecraft: Government Choice of Debt Instruments

We explore the diversity of means by which governments borrow – from commercial banks, sovereign bond issues, official bilateral creditors, and multilateral financial institutions. Although political economy scholars tend to analyze financing instruments in isolation from one another, governments make choices across borrowing instruments. Although these choices partly reflect governments’ macroeconomic profiles and country creditworthiness, […]

Labour market and monetary policy in South Africa

Unemployment is the defining characteristic of the South African economy. The dimension of the problem has generated a large academic and political literature studying its determinants and characteristics. This literature sees the rise of unemployment in South Africa as a combination of structural changes in labour demand with an increase in capital intensity and skills-based […]