South Africa looks to ramp up growth

first_img25 October 2011 Amid concerns over a sluggish global economic recovery and an unresolved European debt crisis, South Africa is to focus more on investing in infrastructure and boosting industrial capacity while setting up a special nest-egg fund to support growth. Delivering his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Tuesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that following the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the Eurozone crisis had brought new challenges and threats to global growth. “Once again we face the prospect of declines in global trade, falling industrial demand, delays in investment, liquidation of businesses and stressed financial institutions, this time with the added risk that fiscal austerity in some parts of the world will extend the slowdown and deepen the crisis,” Gordhan said. This year’s Medium-Term Budget sets out the fiscal and budgetary dimensions of the government’s response to the crisis, key to which is to focus spending on creating long-term public assets by investing more in infrastructure and job-creating assets.Keeping govt wage bill in check At the same time, Gordhan plans to reduce the growth in the government’s wage bill by keeping annual increases for public servants at five percent over the next three years. He said public-sector wage settlements had to be balanced against the crucial considerations of the share of spending allocated to social and economic priorities such as infrastructure and social security.Policy reserve, stimulus package Gordhan also mooted the creation of a policy reserve, which would allow for portions of some revenue allocated to departments to be put aside in a separate account, to be drawn on in difficult times. Added to this, he proposed R25-billion in funding over six years to boost industrial development zones and build up world-class businesses, incentivise firms to improve competitiveness, and help support job creation and training projects.Global risks, vulnerability of exports While global economic recovery has slowed, although moderate growth is expected over the next three years, Gordhan singled out the risk of the unresolved European debt crisis to bank recapitalisation and slow growth of the US. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its global growth forecast for 2011 and 2012 from 4.5% to 4%. Gordhan said after their strong recovery last year, international trade volumes had flattened this year and added that South Africa remained heavily reliant on its traditional developed country partners of the US, EU and Japan, making exports vulnerable to a slowdown in advanced economies. He called on exporters to improve their productivity and keep their input costs down to get more lasting benefits from a more competitive currency – which he said had fluctuated between January and October from R6.58 to the dollar to R8.25 to the dollar. In a media briefing earlier today, the National Treasury’s Director-General, Lungisa Fuzile, said South Africa’s foreign exchange reserves were at about the right level now – at about six months worth of imports.GDP forecast revised down to 3.1% Meanwhile in his speech, Gordhan said growth in the domestic economy had slowed from 4.5% in the first quarter to 1.3% in the second quarter. He attributed this to the strikes that hit the country in the middle of this year and to slower household consumption, as well as the fallout in global trade resulting from the tsunami in Japan in March. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to increase by 3.1% this year (down from the 3.4% forecast in the Budget in February) and move up to 3.4% next year, before lifting to 4.3% in 2014, as the current global uncertainty subsides.The jobs challenge While revealing that the National Treasury had received 2 651 applications under the Jobs Fund, launched in June, Gordhan also pointed to the country’s worsening unemployment rate. Only 210 000 jobs were added in the 15 months of the recovery to June this year, while unemployment had risen from 21.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 25.7% in the second quarter of this year, he said. The unemployment rate did not include the estimated 2.2-million workers who had stopped looking for work, he said, adding that much of the new jobs in the formal sector outside of the agricultural sector, were created in the public sector. Gordhan warned that South Africa’s current projected GDP growth remained too weak to meet the employment targets of the country’s New Growth Path – to create five-million jobs by 2020. He said measures were needed to improve capital budgets, change the way network industries operated and promote competition, while strengthening skills and education.Inflation forecast Meanwhile, South Africa’s inflation rate is expected to breach the 3% to 6% target band temporarily in the first quarter of next year and to average over 5.5% over the next three years. Gordhan said rising food and petrol prices had seen inflation move from 3.2% in September last year to 5.7% in September. Increases in prices set by government agencies was a major factor in fuelling inflation, as 14 of the 18 administered price components were above 6% – with double-digit increases in electricity, water supply, refuse collection and sewerage prices. The ratio of household debt to disposable income, though still high, had declined from a peak of 82% in the first half of 2008 to 75.9% in the second quarter of this year. Gordhan said low levels of credit demand, a sluggish housing market and high levels of non-performing loans, had contributed to muted growth in credit extension to households. The Reserve Bank had, however, kept the repo rate unchanged at a 30-year low of 5.5% since November last year, he said.Capital investment forecast After falling 3.7% last year, gross fixed capital formation was expected to increase 2.9% this year and 4.5% next year, before moving to a 6.3% increase in 2014. Private fixed capital investment grew at 4% in the second quarter, mainly on the back of purchases of machinery and transport equipment. Investment in mining and communications registered the fastest growth in the first half of 2011, with overall investment growing at two percent in this period compared to the same period in the year before. However, despite this, real investment in the second quarter of this year was still eight percent below its pre-crisis peak. BuaNewslast_img read more

Nov. Ethanol, DDG Exports Up From ’17

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest OMAHA (DTN) — The U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday that U.S. exports of goods and services totaled $209.9 billion in November, down $1.3 billion from October. Imports totaled $259.2 billion, down $7.7 billion on the month. The resulting trade deficit of $49.4 billion for November was down from $55.7 billion in October. USDA later provided more details for exports of ethanol, biodiesel, and distillers grains.USDA said U.S. exports of ethanol totaled 147.9 million gallons in November, down from 175.4 million in October, but up 43% from a year ago. Brazil was the top destination again in November, accounting for 35% of total exports and followed by Canada and India. In the first 11 months of 2018, U.S. ethanol exports were up 30% from a year ago.U.S. exports of biodiesel totaled 22,036 metric tons (mt) in November, slightly less than October, but up 217% from a year ago. Once again, Canada was the top destination in November, taking 64% of all U.S. exports, followed by Netherlands and Mexico. So far in 2018, U.S. exports of biodiesel are up 9% from a year ago.U.S. exports of distillers grains totaled 1,016,544 mt in November, a little less than October, but up 16% from a year ago. U.S. distillers grains continue to find broad interest with Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea listed as the top five destinations, accounting for 58% of exports in November. The first 11 months of 2018 showed exports of U.S. distillers grains up 9% from a year ago.(AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Understanding Military Homecoming After Deployment

first_imgSource: Knobloch, L. K., Knobloch-Fedders, L. M., & Yorgason, J. B. (2019). Mental health symptoms and the reintegration difficulty of military couples following deployment: A longitudinal application of the relational turbulence model. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75, 742-765. By Leanne Knobloch, University of IllinoisFor many military couples, deployment can be a seemingly endless countdown to the service member’s homecoming. But, after the big day finally arrives and the welcome home ceremony is over, what’s next for military couples?A new study our research team published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology provides insight into the transition from deployment to reintegration. Our project was funded by the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs through the Military Operational Medicine Research Program. My co-authors on the study included my sister, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders from Marquette University, and our collaborator, Dr. Jeremy Yorgason from Brigham Young University.We had two goals for our investigation. First, we wanted to map out the transition from deployment to reintegration. Second, we wanted to identify factors that predict challenges along the way.We conducted the study by recruiting 1,100 individuals who were part of 555 military couples, and we asked them to complete an online questionnaire once per month for eight consecutive months after the service member’s homecoming from deployment. Each month, returning service members and at-home partners reported on their mental health, their relationship, and their difficulty with reintegration.Participants included active duty, reserve component, and National Guard military couples. The study involved military couples from all branches of service.Our findings showed that military couples reported the most difficulty with reintegration approximately four to five weeks after homecoming, and at-home partners reported more difficulty with reintegration than returning service members at each time point.These results highlight the importance of supporting at-home partners. The timing of help matters as well. In particular, four to five weeks after homecoming may be a key opportunity for offering services.Other findings revealed that mental health symptoms predicted later difficulty with reintegration. Posttraumatic stress symptoms for returning service members, and depressive symptoms for at-home partners, made the transition especially challenging.Based on these results, it’s important to know the symptoms of mental health problems and be ready to seek help if needed. Readjusting after deployment can be tough, and reaching out for assistance if necessary is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.Our data also showed that characteristics of people’s relationships predicted difficulty with reintegration down the road. The transition was harder for partners who had questions about their relationship and who got in the way of each other’s daily routines.What do these results mean? As much as possible, people should open the lines of communication, share information, ask questions, and learn where their partner is coming from. And, carefully building new routines and making sure those routines run smoothly should be helpful as well. Leanne K. Knobloch (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison) is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. Her research examines how people communicate during times of transition, including how military families navigate the deployment cycle and how romantic couples cope with depression. Her work has been honored by the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award from the National Communication Association, the Biennial Article Award from the International Association for Relationship Research, and the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois.last_img read more

The Basic Properties of Color

first_imgColor is one of the most important tools you have in your kit. Do you understand the best ways to use it? Here are the basics.Top image via ShutterstockColor. It has been with you since the day you were born, and it will be with you until the day you die. A particular color can make you recall a fond childhood memory, another color can warn you of danger, and another may tell you how hot or cold something is.Moreover, as a storyteller, either through motion or still pictures, color is one of the most important tools you have in your kit. A simple tweak of the color could give your image an entire new symbolic or literal meaning to your image. For example, see the picture below.Image: Psycho III via Universal PicturesWith a simple color tweak, the house from Psycho becomes less haunting and more welcoming. (This color change revolves around a change in color temperature. You can read more about that here.)Knowledge of color is not just a factor needed to color grade sufficiently. I am confident you’ve probably used the tools (or something similar) in the picture below.Many are adequate with color grading and color correcting and will likely know their way around basic correction software. However, do you know exactly what is happening when you desaturate an image? Of course, the image is losing its ‘color,’ but how does it lose it? Knowing that information will help you make better decisions and ultimately better your work. Understanding basic color theory will not only assist you in post, but it will help with set design, costume, lighting and so much more.Image: A hue color wheelColor itself has three primary qualities: Hue, Chroma, and Value, also known as Hue, Saturation and Lightness.HueWe identify hue as a familiar color’s name, such as blue, which represents a particular wavelength of visible light. It is of the wavelength’s dominance that produces a particular hue.Simply put, hue describes the wavelength of the color. If science class is nothing but a distant memory and this talk of wavelengths has you tangled in a nostalgic web, here’s a quick recap on the science of color wavelengths.Human eyes can only process a tiny region of the electromagnetic spectrum; we call this visible light.  Part of the electromagnetic spectrum is measured in nanometers (nm), and the colors we can see fall between 400-700nm. Violet light and blue light have the shortest wavelengths and become scattered a lot easier in comparison with red, which has the longest [visible] wavelength of 635-700nm.What does this have to do with color theory? The answer is everything. The length of wavelengths will change what color is seen. The reason why the sky is blue is that blue wavelengths of light become scattered through our atmosphere. If green had the shortest wavelength, we would have a green sky.On a daily basis, you can see the process of dominant wavelengths changing the color of our environment. It is visually demonstrated at sunrise and sunset, also known as golden hour. As the sun is just about level with the horizon, the light has many miles of dense atmosphere to travel through and the blue light [wavelengths] becomes even more scattered in the atmosphere, leaving the longer wavelengths of yellow, orange & red to illuminate what we see.It is important to note that hues are not just light at one wavelength. Blue does not exist because the other wavelengths have ceased from the light spectrum. Each hue contains the entire array of wavelengths found in visible light, but one will be more dominant than the others which creates a distinct hue.Therefore, a hue is the founding dimension of a color determined by wavelength; in short, hue is just the base color. Below are the colors azure, cerulean, sapphire and aquamarine. While they each have their distinct properties, they are of a blue hue.When you start to add chroma and value to a hue, you start to create new tints, tones, and shades of a color.There is often discussion and arguments over what colors correctly are classed as ‘pure hues.’ Is it violet or magenta? Different color systems will vary slightly. For this article, we will use the most popular opinion of what classifies as pure hues: Red, Violet, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Orange. These six colors can be broken down into the following groups.Primary HuesTheoretically, these hues are known to be classed as primary, as they cannot be created by mixing other hues together. These are red, blue and yellow. This is not to be confused with primary colors of video, as video uses an additive color system of RGB.Secondary Hues Secondary hues can each be produced by mixing two primary hues. These are orange, violet and green.Tertiary HuesTertiary hues are usually named and created by mixing adjacent primary and secondary hues. For example, red-orange is the tertiary hue between red and orange. Blue-green (cyan) is the tertiary hue between blue and green.Chroma/SaturationChroma, more often called saturation, refers to the intensity and purity of a hue.  A hue will be most vivid in its natural state at 100% saturation. At 0% you will have the monochrome luna component.You can decrease the intensity of a hue by adding gray. Every increment of gray adjusts the tone of the pure hue. You can also desaturate a hue by adding its complementary color. For example, if we take a swatch of red and add a small amount of cyan (red’s complementary color), the grayer the red will become.When equal amounts of cyan and red are mixed, there will be no trace of either hue — only the gray will remain.Value/LightnessThe third property of color is value (lightness). Value measures the degree of light reflected — how light or dark a color is. Adding white makes the color lighter, which in turn creates tints, and adding black makes it darker and creates shades.The effect of value is relative to other components in the composition. For example, the image below shows three distinct differences in value because of the backgrounds.For one color of a particular hue, the perception of lightness is also more intense if we increase saturation. For example, a saturated yellow will always look brighter than a saturated blue. The practicality of this application is incredibly useful for directing the audience’s attention to specific areas within your frame.Much like the English language, there are plenty of color terms that have multiple meanings. For example, chroma is one of the two components of a video signal that carries color information.  Likewise, sometimes brightness and lightness can be interchanged. However, brightness is a human visual perception.As previously stated, understanding the basic properties of color is not a skill that only editors and colorists should learn. Filmmakers of all positions will better themselves knowing how colors work.How has understanding color theory changed your approach to filmmaking, videography, and photography? Share your story in the comments below.last_img read more