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The economist Rudiger Dornbusch used to offer a cautionary analysis about the onset of economic cataclysm in the contemporary world: “The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.” In this he echoed an Ernest Hemingway character in the 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises who famously responded to the question “How did you go bankrupt?” with, “Two ways, gradually and then suddenly”.

There would seem to be a greater than usual trepidation in SA today about the significance of partially interrelated crises that singly concern unemployment and poverty, ethnic and xenophobic tensions, fiscal sustainability and conflict-ridden politics...

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