About Us

Economists.co.za (Economists dot coza is how we prefer to be pronounced) is the leading private economic research house in South Africa. Founded in 2005 by Mike Schussler, we have gained an enviable reputation as both forecasters (Mike has been South African economist of the year twice since 2005 and came fourth in 2010 in the Reuters economic competition) and as innovators (Economists.co.za developed the monthly provincial barometers for five of South Africa's nine provinces). Moreover we have gained a great reputation for original and insightful research.

We are also the producers of the BankservAfrica indices the BETI and the BDSI which respectively track the business cycle and disposable salaries. The BDSI is also published by the South African Reserve Bank in their financial stability report. We expect that the SARB may publish further indices that we produce.

We also developed the ABSA bank/Barclays Africa SME index which serves as an index that provides insight into the number of businesses and self-employed in the South African economy.

For the Road Freight Industry we provide a cost escalation calculator and advice on how to use it to firms in that sector and their clients.

For UASA we have produced the South African Employment Report for about a decade, which in itself has been widely well received and been quoted by leading publications even by The Economist.

We use new and faster ways of collecting data from electronic data series to other original data provided to us by our clients which we incorporate into meaningful indices that provide industries with knowledge leaders. We have helped many clients become industry leaders and helped them stand out from the pack

We have done work for the Presidency, National Treasury and a host of other private sector enterprises.

Why not talk to us the next time you need an idea or a cost escalation.

We use one of the world’s best databases Macrobond and a host of other data providers.

We do presentations for companies and also provide the graphs for annual reports or client presentations.

Let us make you a knowledge leader in your industry from both public data and internal sources. Talk to us and be what you can be!

Our People

Our Associates

Johann Van Tonder; Johannes Jordan; Jacolize Mering; Elize Kruger; Dr Peter Baur.

Our Clients Over the Years

Our Philosphy

Economists.co.za is completely independent, with no outside shareholders, no business in securities or other financial products, and no conflicting loyalties. Our loyalties are quite simply to you - our clients, to whom we pledge to provide full, unbiased coverage as it affects your interests, and to "tell it as we see it", whether that is good or bad.

Our economic indicators are real and are based on hard facts "on the ground". We build these economic indices to help inform people and our clients or as in many cases their clients. This way we can bring new facts to the table and help clients establish themselves as knowledge leaders.

While we concentrate on economic questions which are relevant for decision-makers in both the real economy and in financial markets, we are not investment advisers. Economists dot coza produces the raw material on which good investment decisions, both real and financial, may be based. We offer our independent economic views and data to give better insights into strategic and investment decisions.

Economists.co.za is not afraid of standing out from the pack. But we are afraid of conveying messages which are confusing. If we do not have a view we will say so. But when we do have one, we will not hesitate to express it - even if it is strongly against the consensus opinion. The paramount values which we seek to uphold are independence of thought and insight with clarity. While we want our forecast numbers to be accurate (which they often are) we serve our clients best if they can make informed and thoughtful decisions.

We believe in working with others were they have the expertise and where we still can add value. Otherwise we get out of the kitchen. We believe in reading and learning every day. We believe that our clients often have better knowledge than we do but that we can put their information in better context both in terms of business cycles and in terms the broader economic environment.

Our Mottos

1. You are entitled to your own views - but not your own facts. Put less forcefully - let's check the facts (again) before we make up our minds. Often "facts" become entrenched but remain false or become false over time.

2. Independence pays as most sheep that were led to slaughter followed free advice. You get what you pay for and that is often more expensive. The last decades investment advice millions of investors got free turned into very expensive losses. Many firms got economic advice that benefitted their banks more than them.

3. Being part of the crowd is fine, but often it pays to leave the crowd, for the right reasons. Going into a space with an old product is sometimes extremely successful - more often than not costly. Make sure you understand why and how before you just try something out.

4. Service is helping the client make the right decision. While service is also the paper work and the actual work - more often than not it is listening, something we remind ourselves of.

Why Pay for Research?

Clients often wonder why they should pay for research. Simply put; because research really matters and you get what you pay for. Although there is a mass of economic and investment research distributed "free" by investment banks and brokers, the clients, pay for this through price spreads and commissions. Moreover investment banks and brokers naturally use the distribution of this "free" research to further their own objectives. It is no accident that in the late 1990s the bulk of the research, from both Wall Street and London, about the "new economy" and the absurd levels of stock prices, ranged from the favourable to the wildly enthusiastic. You paid for this from pension fund losses to wasted contracts it was called the dot com bubble.

Notice that not one South African bank told anyone in 2008 about large potential falls in house prices and they still avoid telling anyone that the turnover in the housing market crashed by more than 60%. Bank analysts often over predict falls in interest rates and often do not foresee the rises in interest rates; once you understand that banks make money from debt you may see some bias.

Independence has always been important in the conduct of research and the provision of both data and advice. These days, though, bearing in mind recent history and the pressures on equity houses and banks, it is probably even more important. This has now been recognised by the regulators across the world.

While one can provide research in-house this is extremely costly and it is rarely possible to resource internal research departments fully at the requisite quality. Moreover, it is very easy for an internal research department to fall into re-affirming the views of senior executives - thereby defeating the object of the exercise. With King III independent advice is going to be one of the important factors which a board will have to take into account even if it just helps directors to revisit their plans.

The real alternative: - is to buy in independent research from outside - either to supplement in-house research services or as a substitute for them. That is the solution Economists.co.za offers.

If such an independent service helps to you make better decisions, as our clients believe, then the cost is a small price to pay. And for many financial organisations, as clients and trustees increasingly absorb the lessons of the last few years, being able to demonstrate that they take at least some independent research will be a key requirement for attracting and retaining their own business.

What We Do Not Do

We do not offer daily currency or yield forecasts. Our data and thoughts are longer term in nature and more often than not we will get currencies wrong. We look at the underlying trends that underpin long term movements.

We do not get every forecast right. We aim to get the major events and trends or directions right. In 2010 the best US forecasters of the year, got 86% of their forecasts right and over a two year period they got 82% of their forecasts right.* Over the decade the best forecaster had a margin of error of just less than 33% which, while sounding big is actually quite extraordinary low over such a length of time. Even the best forecasts are not good enough which we realise while we provide the numbers for your next budget. Strategic themes rather than precise numbers are more important in making real world decisions.

We do not just repeat everything that is in the daily papers or media. Generally the really big themes are covered in bits and pieces while reading, insight and experience help bring them to the fore.

We do not puff up nice stuff to get people motivated. We inform with real insightful facts and yes often negative facts actually do motivate people as the good stands out better with the truth.

We do not give investment tips. We look at real economic trends and make use of that to give financial clients a better insight.

We often have to smooth some statistics but we do not get them to confess. Some data is not always a nice data set and may jump around a bit. We will try to get the real trend but not to suit a client or even our own view.

* Average margin of error in forecasts for 13 indicators, subtracted from 100. For monthly indicators, estimates were compiled over two years; for GDP, 12 quarters of forecasts were collected. Ranking is as of Sept. 30 2010. Source: Bloomberg (five of the top ten were independent, three worked for investment banks, one for an asset manager and one was a foreign government owned agency)

Over the last ten years the same has played out in SA. Four winners were independent, two were academics, two were in house economists for a real economy companies and two were in house financial sector economists.

Why Us?

We believe that we have quality staff.

We have great ideas.

We have experience on a range of sectors.

Our research is concise and jargon-free.

We are flexible in our service offering and often in our prices.

We have access to great data sources.

We will tell you honestly when we cannot do something.

We have a rich base of contacts.

We have a great track record.