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On captaincy and saying farewell to a leader

Economics staff and students are making a name within and outside academe. In this issue we review the research visits of the macro and economic history groups, and report on the new captain of the Cape Cobras cricket team. Sadly, we also say farewell to Prof Philip Black who had made a telling contribution to so many of his colleagues and students over the years.
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Farewell, prof. Philip Black

Philip Black, professor of Economics at Stellenbosch University between July 1988 and December 1990, passed away on 19 June 2015 at his home in Cape Town. Professor Black was highly respected by his peers for his exceptional ability to apply economic theory to topical policy questions. In addition, he was well-loved by his students for his gentle humour, stimulating ideas and keen interest in and encouragement of their work. After his initial stint at Stellenbosch Economics, he was from 1993 contracted by the department on a part-time basis to teach and provide research supervision to postgraduate students. In 2002 he was appointed as a part-time Extraordinary Professor in the Department. This appointment has been renewed several times and he was serving a term ending December 2016 at the time of his death. 

During his career, Philip Black was also Jagger Professor of Economics and Director of the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, as well as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics and Economic History at Rhodes University. Professor Black also held positions as Research Director of the Corporation for Economic Research (CER), of the Africa Institute for Policy Analysis and Economic Integration (AIPA), and of the South Africa Foundation. During the early 1990’s he served on the Economic Advisory Council of State President FW de Klerk and was also a member of the Committee for Economic Sciences of the Human Sciences Research Council. He served a term in a part-time capacity as Chief Economist at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism of the Western Cape Government. Professor Black was also a past Managing Editor of the South African Journal of Economics and a past President of the Economic Society of South Africa.
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Masters student new Cape Cobras captain

Omphile Ramela, a Masters student in the Department, is the new captain of the Cape Cobras four-day provincial cricket team for the upcoming season. Ramela, who hails from Soweto and attended St Johns after impressing a scout at a Baker’s mini-cricket tournament, chose to attend Stellenbosch University after school, studying PPE. He not only excelled in the classroom, attaining an Honours in Philosophy before another Honours-degree, this time in Economics, but also on the cricket field, becoming Maties captain.

Ramela was drafted by the Cape Cobras provincial cricket team several years ago and after a slow start enjoyed a stand-out season last year, scoring a double-hundred and delivering an excellent performance in the T20 final to secure the trophy for the Cobras. Earlier this year, he travelled with the South African ‘A’ side to India, scoring a century in the first unofficial test at Wayanad.

Ramela manages to continue his studies while playing professional cricket, having enrolled for a Masters degree in July 2015. Under the supervision of Prof Johan Fourie and as part of the LEAP team, he is investigating the inequality of black South Africans before the onset of apartheid. 

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Stellenbosch alumni ranked high by Financial Mail

Economics professor and Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Prof Stan du Plessis, has been ranked first in the category Innovative Research Analyst in the annual Financial Mail Ranking of financial market analysists. In addition to his position as Dean, Prof Du Plessis works part-time as an economist for Prescient Securities.

Published last week, the Financial Mail's rankings, now in their 38th year, recognise the most successful analysts in the financial industry in South Africa.

Other alumni of the Economics department performed equally well. Deanne Gordon was ranked fourth in the Investment Strategy category, Carmen Nel and Ilke van Zyl was ranked third in the Domestic Economic Trends category, with Sonja Keller ranked fourth in the same category. And DeWet Schutte was ranked second in the Hotels, Travel & Leisure category.

We congratulate our alumni for their fine achievements this year. 

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Macro research team members at the 5th macro and monetary economics workshop

From 26 to 27 August, members of our macro research team, accompanied by the team leader Prof. Guangling Liu, attended the 5th macro and monetary economics workshop at the South African Reserve Bank. Dr. Fernando García Barragán (1st left) presented one of his recent research articles, titled ‘The welfare cost of bank capital requirements with endogenous default’. He shows that allowing capital requirements to respond to default rates can help mitigate welfare losses in the face of negative productivity shocks. Mr. Hilary Patroba (2nd left) presented one of the chapters from his PhD thesis: ‘South Africa’s real business cycles: permanent versus transitory shocks’. His paper revealed the dominance of permanent productivity shocks over transitory shocks in explaining observed South African output growth dynamics. Miss Anna Orthofer (3rd left) and Mr. Chris Garbers (5th left) are first year PhD students at the department. Anna’s research topic is ‘Savings, wealth and its distribution in South Africa’. Through the application of a variety of savings concepts and measurements, her research investigates both the level and distribution of South African savings.  Chris’ thesis title is ‘Essays on credit cycles’ and his first paper looks at the impact that credit heterogeneity has on the transmission of financial shocks. Dr. Hylton Hollander (4th left) obtained his PhD degree last December. The title of his thesis is ‘Financial frictions and the business cycle’.  He is currently holding a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cape Town and presented a chapter from his thesis in which he introduces contingent convertible capital into a real business cycle framework. 
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LEAP members attend World Economic History Congress in Kyoto

A diverse group of staff, students and research associates from the Department's recently launched Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) attended the trienniel World Economic History Congress in Kyoto, Japan from 3 to 7 August. Johan Fourie, who completed his PhD at Utrecht University in 2012, was a finalist in the dissertation session on early-modern history. He was announced the winner of this category on Friday night at an exciting closing ceremony.

Fourie hosted two sessions on varying topics within African economic history, during which the LEAP students and associates presented their research, with topics ranging from social mobility in the Cape, to yam production and centralization in Africa. These sessions and a number of others on African research attracted much interest, showing again the broad scope of research being conducted by researchers from all over the world, and ground that is yet to be broken in African economic history. It was exciting to show that some of that ground is being broken by Africans at African institutions. The South African flag was indeed flying high in Japan.
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