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The myth of “neutrality” and the rhetoric of “stability”: macroeconomic policy in democratic South Africa

Isaacs, Gilad (2014): The myth of “neutrality” and the rhetoric of “stability”: macroeconomic policy in democratic South Africa.

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This paper offers a comprehensive review of macroeconomic policy in democratic South Africa. It does so with two distinctive features. First, macroeconomic policy is analysed on four interlocking, and sometimes conflicting, levels: [1] policy as provided “on paper” in government plans and programmes; [2] the scholarship upon which policy is (purportedly) premised; [3] the rhetoric/ideology that surrounds policy and sometimes obscures its true nature and even intentions; and [4] policy as actually implemented in practice. Second, the manner in which macroeconomic policy has facilitated the restructuring of the South African economy is carefully examined. This runs contrary to the orthodox assertion that macroeconomic policy only plays a “neutral” and/or “stabilising” role. It is shown that the restructuring that has occurred has not reoriented the economy away from its traditional reliance on minerals and energy, mineral-related sectors and finance; rather it has consolidated this structure and corresponding dynamics, albeit with novel features. Macroeconomic policy has, thus, played a leading role in facilitating particular forms of restructuring that, rather than reorienting the economy towards the needs of the impoverished majority, have reinforced the pre-existing dominant sections of capital while incorporating a newly emerging black bourgeoisie.

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