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SA’s fortunes are often ascribed to the state of the global economy, either the strength or weakness of factors such as the US dollar, global markets or the prices of commodities such as platinum and gold. We are but an ant in this global marketplace, making up just 0.56%, and as such for the most part we are and will remain price-takers. Our political class, in explaining our economic underperformance since the peaks of 2011, tend to emphasise this reality and its impact on us. It is true that we are an open economy, which comes with many benefits and of course risks, as there’s little control of the changing tides. When the tide goes out, SA and other emerging markets such as Brazil can be left exposed. The 21st century has come with many such challenges, none more so than Asia’s emergence as a manufacturing base with which virtually no other continent can compete because of the availability of cheap labour. That’s something the romantics of SA’s own version of the Gilded Age of t...

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