Libertarian Wins ‘Economist of the Year’ Award

Dawie Roodt
Roodt and the award.

Economist Dawie Roodt, the Chief Economist of the Efficient Group, has won the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Beeld‘s ‘Economist of the Year’ Award, according to the Efficient Group’s Facebook page. The Beeld has a readership of about half a million.

In 2015 Roodt was described as South Africa’s most-quoted economist in the media.

Roodt also hosts the breakfast television show Ontbytsake (Afrikaans for “Breakfast Business” or “Business at Breakfast”) on the Kyknet Afrikaans channel.

According to the Vaal Triangle Campus News of the North West University, Roodt publicly “acknowledges that he is gladly pigeonholed as a libertarian” and believes that economics “is not about numbers, graphs and statistics; but rather about people, and about how they react to incentives,” which is a view associated strongly with the Austrian school of economics.

The same source states that Roodt has been complimented by Communist Party leaders as being an “unreconstructed neoliberal fundamentalist.” He used this label as a subheading for his latest book, Facts, Lies and Red Tape: Confessions of an unreconstructed neo-liberal fundamentalist.

In an article in 2013 on Business Day Live, Adele Shevel wrote:

“But he says the term ‘neo-liberal’ does not define him. Rather, he is a libertarian who, above all, values free will and individual rights. He cites Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, the fathers of libertarianism, as his heroes.

Margaret Thatcher was also one of his heroes. ‘What she did was amazing. We are all Thatcherites today, whether we like it or not. She changed the world; she invented privatisation’.”

She continues:

“Intrigued by communism for years, he studied the ideology at university. He has been to Russia several times and his second wife is Russian.

But he is a free-marketeer. The major flaw in communism is information flow, he says. It is a centrally controlled system in which you have a committee deciding how to allocate resources. The speed at which information is digested in a free market is quicker.

He does not like the word ‘capitalist’. ‘We don’t really have a capitalist system. That is where you have a few people who own capital or a factory. Factories today belong to pension funds and asset managers.’

He believes in reducing dependency (there should be fewer grants by the government). People should start businesses, rather than expect to find jobs. At the same time, the government needs to remove the red tape that stifles business with regulation and licensing requirements.”