Events

The BER hosts events in Cape Town and Johannesburg. BER conferences and breakfasts provide delegates with the latest forecasts as well as in-depth analyses of economic and political developments. The conferences are renowned for the quality of the speakers. At these events, delegates can listen to and engage with influential policy makers, business leaders, decision makers and other attendees.

2023 May | BER BRIEFING: Growth arithmetic and the 2024 election

After posting reasonable real GDP growth of 2% in 2022, the growth prospects for the South African (SA) economy in 2023 are bleak. Major constraints include intense power cuts, logistical bottlenecks, as well as a risky global macro and geopolitical environment. On a positive note, the expected lift-off in large green-energy investments could soften the impact of these constraints. In addition, with the crucial 2024 election roughly 12 months away, local politics, which have weighed on business confidence for many years, are also top of mind.

Chair: Craig Lemboe, Senior Economist, BER

Presentation by Hugo Pienaar, Chief Economist, BER: Eskom, green energy boost and global pivots: The SA economy through 2024
A copy of this presentation can be downloaded here.

Panel discussion: Multiparty coalitions in SA: Friend or foe?

Craig Lemboe in conversation with:

  • Natasha Marrian, Deputy Editor, Financial Mail
  • Aubrey Matshiqi, Independent Political Analyst
  • Prof Steven Friedman, Humanities Faculty, University of Johannesburg
  • Wayne Sussman, Elections Analyst

This briefing provided an overview of the BER’s 2022Q3 quarterly surveys of the services sector.

Presenters
George Kershoff, Deputy Director, BER
Helanya Fourie, Senior Economist, BER
Please click here to download a copy of the presentations.

Commentary by
Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya, Chief economist, FNB South Africa
Linette Ellis, Consulting Economist, BER
A recording is available on the BER’s YouTube channel.

The global geopolitical landscape has been jolted by several shocks. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have long-lasting implications for the world order as the West disengages from Russia, both in terms of political dialogue and economically. The latest shock comes at a time when the global economy has barely recovered from the COVID-19 crisis, with several countries still impacted by infection surges. China’s reluctance to let go of its zero-COVID policy has ripple effects through global supply chains, with the war in Ukraine adding further friction. As a result, food and energy prices have soared, driving inflation rates in many advanced economies to multi-decade highs. This leaves central banks with little choice but to respond to these persistent supply-side shocks through higher policy interest rates and the scaling down of bond purchases. The subsequent knock to demand is compounded by the ramifications of the war. While higher export commodity prices have to some extent shielded South Africa from the adverse impacts of the conflict in Europe, as a small and open economy, the stagflation impacts of the war will also be felt here.

We have invited emerging market specialist Dr Lawrence Brainard to provide a global perspective. Dr Brainard is the chairman, emerging markets panel and senior consulting economist at TS Lombard. If you are logged in you will be able to download copy of the handout and the accompanying chart book here.

The BER also presented the outlook for the South African economy, please find a copy of Craig Lemboe’s presentation here.

Clients can access the recording by logging in and navigating to the My Account – Webinars tab.

The recovery of the SA economy from the COVID-19-induced crash in 2020 continued to outpace expectations in the first quarter of 2021. Incoming high-frequency data suggests that some of the recovery momentum carried over to the second quarter. As a result, real GDP growth forecasts for 2021 are being revised up. The more optimistic outlook is supported by a significant rise in SA’s key export commodity prices, as well as recent indications of greater traction on much-needed structural reforms in SA. Added to this have been some positive developments on the domestic political front, most notably the fight against corruption.

Despite these growth-supportive developments, the SA economy continues to face strong headwinds. These include the risk of further waves of COVID-19 infections amid a slow, albeit accelerating, vaccine rollout. The risk of prolonged Eskom load-shedding also continues to linger. These contrasting trends pose several challenges to forecasters, business people and policy makers.

To take stock of recent developments and look forward to what it all means for the future performance of the economy, we assembled a list of expert speakers for a morning briefing.

Chair:

Mr. Craig Lemboe, Senior Economist, Bureau for Economic Research

Speakers and panelists:

Adv. Thabo Mokoena, DG, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
Dr. Duncan Pieterse, Deputy DG, National Treasury
Ms. Natasha Marrian, Deputy Editor, Financial Mail
Dr. Ralph Mathekga, Independent Political Commentator
Mr. Hugo Pienaar, Chief Economist, Bureau for Economic Research

Only BER Clients can download a copy of Hugo’s presentation.

There is general agreement that the global economy will contract substantially in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Already in the 80th month of a business cycle downswing, the South African economy is no exception. The need for a recovery in South Africa’s GDP growth has been top of mind for a long time. It was hoped that the stabilisation of energy supply and the restructuring of Eskom would have facilitated this. Then COVID-19 struck.

National Treasury has for some time been pushing the need for structural reforms that could facilitate private sector investment and foster higher potential growth. As South Africa considers the possible levers for growth in the aftermath of the pandemic, the issues of energy availability and structural reform have an even more important role than envisaged before. In addition, a substantive infrastructure investment drive can also be a critical factor that kick-starts an economic revival. In the wake of significant fiscal constraints, it is necessary to promote private sector financed investment in the major growth-enhancing network industries. These include broadband spectrum, green energy, and water. This will require structural and regulatory reforms. A large investment in green energy will also help with the energy availability problem that is constraining South Africa’s growth prospects.

From an informal studio setting, the speakers will address the fiscal, energy, investment and reform aspects that are required to fuel a GDP recovery in South Africa.

Chair:

Prof Johann Kirsten, Director, Bureau for Economic Research

Speakers include:

Mr. Hugo Pienaar, Chief economist, BER
Dr. Duncan Pieterse, Acting DDG Economic Policy, National Treasury
Mr. Jan Oberholzer, COO, Eskom
Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office, The Presidency
Clients can view a recording of the briefing by logging in to the website and navigating to the ‘Webinars’ page at ‘My Account’

After nearly a decade of weak economic growth, rising unemployment and a deteriorating fiscal position, South Africa’s macroeconomic policy options are constrained. Rising debt and SOE funding requirements have narrowed the scope for fiscal stimulus, while weak investor confidence and financial vulnerability limit the potential effectiveness of monetary measures. What are the possible elements, in these circumstances, of a sustainable economic recovery plan?

The BER, in consultation with National Treasury, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the Association of Savings and Investment of SA (ASISA), hosted a one-day seminar on 4 December 2019 to clarify thinking and explore option for macroeconomic policy and inclusive growth. The small discussion group comprised representatives of National Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank, the Department of Trade and Industry, the financial sector, ASISA, BUSA and academia.

Summary report

Overview report

The Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Prof Ingrid Woolard, and the Director of the Bureau for Economic Research, Prof Johann Kirsten, hosted a public lecture on 6 March 2019 by the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Dr Lesetja Kganyago.

Mr Hugo Pienaar, Senior economist, Bureau for Economic Research: Constrained optimism – prospects for the SA economy in a post-Zuma era.

The BER joined forces with Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA), and UCT’s Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth (REDI 3x3) in hosting a summit to discuss policy options for “Inclusive growth”. The summit brought together 75 delegates including policy makers, corporate leaders and civil society partners with the intention to introduce new voices, new insights, and new policy options into the South African economic policy debate, while connecting to the existing understanding of the drivers of growth in South Africa. It was quite fortuitous to have Prof Joseph Stiglitz in South Africa at the time of the event and he agreed to present one of the keynote addresses at the meeting. Other addresses were made by Prof. Gary Fields (Cornell via AV from Ithaca) and Prof. Ben Friedman (Harvard University via AV from Boston) - International Growth Advisory Panel.

Webinar presentment by Hugo Pienaar and Harri Kemp.

Global political events, such as the election of Donald Trump as US president and the UK’s planned exit from the EU have resulted in increased uncertainty. Furthermore, political uncertainty in the wake of the ANC policy conference in June as well as the elective conference in December were most likely to taper down any growth prospects. In this context, the BER hosted a morning briefing with three top analysts (Hugo Pienaar, Ralph Mathekga and Peter Attard Montalto) to provide some insights and likely political and economic scenarios to assist BER clients and South African business in general to make informed decisions.