Five years ago the head of the National Treasury’s budget office, Michael Sachs, promised the IMF he would eat his hat if SA government debt hadn’t stabilised in three years. The IMF said it would rather Sachs implement a debt ceiling.

Back to the present, and SA has just been granted a R70bn IMF loan to plug the deficit, with the Treasury promising to consider introducing a debt ceiling. However, with SA’s debt-to-GDP ratio on a seemingly unstoppable course towards 100%, it is arguably too late...

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