“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked Mike. “Two ways,” he replied, “gradually and then suddenly.” This quote from Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun also Rises has been much used since 1926 when it was written, but still vividly illustrates the dynamics of how financial failure happens.

Over the past week it has been top of mind as finance minister Tito Mboweni unpacked the tenuous state of the nation’s finances during the adjustment budget speech in parliament and economists sounded warnings of an impending debt crisis...

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