Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Now It's the Sunshine Science

Are economists the "sunshine journalists" of the new era? There was a period of South African history when it was impossible to open a newspaper without reading some fawning and grovelling "analysis" piece on the Mbeki government.

Slightly burnt by this experience, one suspects, journalists are generally more cautious about taking sides, with some very obvious exceptions. In the process of reading rafts of analysis and opinion columns written by South African economists, I can't help getting the uneasy feeling we are being had.

For a start, it's suspicious that so much of this information is publicly available, unlike corporate analysis, which is generally hidden from public view and confidentially passed on to institutional clients.

This means banks are using their economists as part of their marketing efforts, and it's beginning to show. One is left with a sense there is an underlying cheerleading agenda. Just to take a few recent examples, I have read a piece pointing out the "five things the new government has done right", and a long piece comparing statements made by presidents Mandela, Mbeki, and Zuma. The aim is obviously to show not much has changed. But, if you can't see the difference between the forces and underpinnings of the Zuma government compared with Mbeki's , then you are involved in an act of mystification rather than an act of elucidation.

SA's growth rate over the past decade has on average underperformed the global average, the Asian average, the developed world average, the developing world average, and, by substantial margins, the Africa average.

Surely this is the starting point of all economic analysis of SA?

2 Opinion(s):

Vanilla Ice said...

Oh come on Dobes, don't spoil the party.

Doberman said...

I thought you might like this one.