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Leading SA economist Mike Schüssler dies of cancer

'He was a people's economist' — friend and economist Dawie Roodt

24 May 2022 - 08:56
Economist Mike Schüssler. File photo.
Economist Mike Schüssler. File photo.
Image: Russell Roberts

Well-known SA economist Mike Schüssler has died after a short battle with cancer.

“I got a message from his wife [Greta Moodie] this morning that Mike has passed on,” Schüssler's friend Dawie Roodt told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.

He said Schüssler had been struggling with throat cancer and “about two months ago or even less had an operation which was successful”. However, Schüssler’s health had deteriorated, which led to him being hospitalised again before succumbing to the illness.

Roodt said he believed that Schüssler, whom he had known since the 1990s, would like to be remembered as a people’s economist. He was popular for his insights on radio and other media, crunching financial data to inform ordinary people.

“I believe he would want to be remembered as the people’s economist which is what he really was.”

Mike Schüssler (right) was a music lover with an amazing knowledge about different genres, his friend and fellow economist Dawie Roodt (left) shared.
Mike Schüssler (right) was a music lover with an amazing knowledge about different genres, his friend and fellow economist Dawie Roodt (left) shared. 
Image: Supplied

Roodt said he used to mock Schüssler and called him a “pink economist” as his views on the economy were more liberal than his own.

“Well, Mike would call me an inflation Nazi ... we were close, we partied together when we were young.”

He said Schüssler was “naughty during his younger days”.

“He was a very likable guy.”

Schüssler was a music lover with an amazing knowledge about different genres, Roodt said. 

“He had a huge knowledge of music, his collection had very old Afrikaans music to the most recent rap music, he had everything,”

Roodt said Schüssler attended Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) where he completed his master’s degree.

“One thing that people don't know about him is that he was anti-National Party.”

He shared an anecdote about how Schüssler was fired from the RAU radio station after having a go at the National Party during one of his shows as a presenter at the university's station.

Tributes are pouring in for the founder of the Economists.co.za research house.

Lullu Krugel, an economist, said: “The world of economics lost a very big name ... There were few economists that could think so logically about our field of study and that could turn data into information that was practical the way that [he] could.”

Retired economics editor Cobus Bester tweeted that he “was a special economist. Enormously intelligent, articulate, an original thinker, yet humane, warm, a hugely effective communicator at all levels. A loss we couldn’t afford. A friend. A mensch.”

“The burden of a good economist is seeing the otherwise unseen and unforeseen harms of active government and state intervention. Mike Schüssler bore this burden with distinction and was forthright about the policy-induced problems facing the SA economy and society. With his public influence he sought to steer government policy in better directions and to alert business and civil society in general to policy risks,” said the Sakeliga organisation.

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