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Academic Staff

Graham D. Barr

Office: PD Hahn 6.66
Tel: +27 21 650 3217

Research Interests

Econometrics; Financial Modelling; Sports Statistics; Games of Chance; Problem Gambling and its Treatment

Position: Professor

Courses Taught

  • STA1001 – Statistics 1001
  • Econometrics Honours
  • Time Series Honours
  • Statistical Computer Studies Honours

Biographical Information

Graham Barr was first appointed to the department in 1979 as a Lecturer, becoming a Senior Lecturer in 1981, Associate Professor in 1984 and Professor in 1998. He did 15 undergraduate courses at UCT for a combined BA/BSc degree in 1975, passing them all in the first class and winning six class medals. His postgraduate degrees, BSc(Hons) (1976), MSc (1977) (Static and Dynamic modelling of the South African economy) and PhD (1981) (A Contribution to Adaptive Robust Estimation), were all completed at UCT.

He is a member of the South African Statistical Association and the South African Economic Society. In 1989, jointly with Rob van den Honert, he won the President's Gold Medal of the South African Association of Business Management for outstanding contributions to the South African Journal of Business Management. He has also won the Corporate Merchant Bank Prize for the best article published in the South African Journal of Accounting Research in 1994 (with Prof. B Kantor), in 1998 (with L Sharp), again with Prof. Kantor in 2000 and with Chris Holdsworth (a former Masters student) in 2007. He has been a regular financial and quantitative consultant for Investec Securities, rated as the top analysts with Chris Holdsworth at the Financial Mail annual analyst awards in the category Risk Management in 2010. He has also served as an expert statistical witness on several High Court legal cases.

Research Interests

Graham Barr is primarily an applied econometrician. His research in this area is in macroeconomic model building and financial time series analysis. His current applied financial research is in the area of portfolio analysis and asset allocation in the South African context as well as on decision models in financial intervention analysis. With Prof. B Kantor (frequent co-author in this area) he made a major contribution in laying the groundwork of quantitative economics in the South African context. In addition, with co-authors Prof. J Affleck-Graves, Prof. R Knight and then with PhD students Prof. D Bradfield and Prof. M Page, he made a significant contribution to Applied South African Finance research. His contribution has covered a large area and includes work into the efficiency of SA markets, estimation of optimal portfolios in SA markets, tests of CAPM and APT models and more recently, co-integration studies of PE and Price to NAV equilibria. A recent research focus has been an analysis of emerging market sovereign risk and how it has impacted on the SA economy including cointegration tests for the existence of stable long-run relationships between the macroeconomic aggregates of the SA economy and the other emerging markets.

On a completely different track, he is near the completion of writing a suite of software modules for use primarily in the teaching of 1st and 2nd year statistics modules. These are currently being used in STA1000 at UCT and have be used in 2nd year courses from June 2005. The modules are written in VBA (Visual Basic for applications) that is built into Microsoft Excel. These modules demonstrate, with the interactive use of graphics, key statistical concepts by using simulation and have revolutionized the effectiveness of the teaching of Statistics at UCT. Thus, for example, by simulating over a 1000 replications one can demonstrate the acceptance or rejection of some null hypothesis given some (pre-selected) underlying distribution. This can then be used to demonstrate, for example, the concept of the statistical power of a test using actual data rather than the normal theoretically based exposition.

Furthermore, he has recently worked in collaboration with Prof. P Collins in work commissioned by the National Responsible Gaming Programme to establish:

(a) How familiar South Africans are with different forms of gambling, how much they participate in them and what their attitudes are towards gambling.

(b) The tracking and analysis of the prevalence of problem and pathological/addictive gambling in South Africa.

Five biennial research reports have been published in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The publications are entitled “Gambling and Problem Gambling in South Africa: A National Study 2001 (2003, 2005, 2008, 2010)” and represent the core research in the area of problem gambling in South Africa.

Recent Research projects

Evaluation and characterisation of SA as an emerging market in collaboration with L Sharp (NRF project 2002-2010). Research contacts have been established at, and consolidated by visits to, the London Business School, Oxford University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Australian Graduate School of Management (Sydney) and The International Management Institute (Geneva). He is a joint author with Professor LG Underhill of the third edition of the first year text book for B Com. students COMMATH.

Selected publications since 1993

  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (1993) The Money-Income Causality Debate in South Africa: Comment. South African Journal of Economics, 61(1), 84-86.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kahn, S.B. (1994) Testing for Purchasing Power Parity in South Africa, Discussion paper, Number 4 March 1994, Centre for the study of the South African Economy and International Finance, London School of Economics.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (1994) The Discount to Net Asset value, Unbundling and Shareholder interests, De Ratione , 8(1), Winter 1994, 44-59. This publication was awarded the Corporate Merchant Bank Prize for the best article published in De Ratione over the 1994 period.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (1994) The changing pattern of Savings in South Africa 1970-91, Journal for Studies in Economics and Econometrics, 18,3, November 1994, 59-75.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kahn, S. B. (1995) Testing for purchasing Power Parity in South Africa in the presence of Real Shocks, Journal for Studies in Economics and Econometrics, 19,1, 69-86.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Sharp, L.S. (1996) The Problem of revised GDP Figures in South Africa; an Alternative Indicator of Economic Activity, South African Journal of Economics, 64(4), 305-319.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Sharp, L. (1997) The Realignment of international stock markets after the 1987 crash, with special reference to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, SA Journal of Accounting Research, 11, 1, 1-13.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and R. van den Honert, (1998) Evaluating Batsman’s scores in test cricket, SA Statist. J. 32 1-15.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (1999) Price earnings ratios on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange - are they a guide to value? SA Journal of Accounting Research, 13:1, 1-23.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B. S. (2000) Adding market value to a holding company, SA Journal of Accounting Research, 14:1, 49-64.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Sharp, L.S. (2002) , Measuring Contagion - The profile of South African and Emerging Market Risk over the 1998 Crisis, J. Stud. Econometrics, 2002, 26(1), 71-82.
  • Barr, G.D.I and Kantor, B.S. (2002) , The South African Economy and its Asset Markets: An Integrated Approach, SAJE, 70, 1, 53-77.
  • Barr, G.D.I and Standish, B. (2002) Modelling the Economics of Gaming in South Africa Journal of Gambling Studies, 18 (4): 371-397, Winter 2002.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (2003) Paying to Play: The pricing policies of casinos, SAJE, 71, 2, 345-362.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (2004) A criterion for comparing and selecting batsmen in limited overs cricket, JORS, 55, 1266-1274.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Kantor, B.S. (2005) The Impact of the Rand on the value of the JSE, Journal in Economics and Econometrics, 29(2), 77-95.
  • Barr, G.D.I. and Sharp, L.S. (2006) The Economics of Democracy in Resource Producing countries, JSEE [Journal for Studies in Economics and Econometrics], 30(1), 41-57.
  • Barr, GDI; Kantor, BS and Holdsworth, CG (2007) The Effect of the Rand Exchange Rate on the JSE Top40 stocks - an Analysis for the Practitioner, SA Journal Business Management, Vol.38(1), 45-57.
  • Barr, GDI; Kantor, BS and Holdsworth, CG (2007) Portfolio Strategies for hedging against Rand weakness, SA Journal of Accounting Research, Volume 21(1) (Autumn, 2007), 81-101, awarded the Standard Bank prize for the best article submitted in 2007.
  • Barr, GDI; Kantor, BS and Holdsworth, CG (2008) Evaluating Performances at the 2007 Cricket World Cup, SA Statist. J., 42, 125-142.
  • Durbach IN and Barr, GDI (2008) Illustrating Dependence between Random Variables Using Slot Machines, Teaching Statistics, 30(3), 89-92.
  • Barr, GDI and Durbach IN (2008) A Monte Carlo Analysis of Hypothetical Multi-Line Slot Machine Play, International Gambling Studies, 8:3, 265-280.
  • Barr GDI, Scott LS (2008) A new Approach to Teaching Fundamental Statistical Concepts and an Evaluation of its Application at UCT, SA Statist. J., 42, 143-170.

Postgraduate Projects

Financial Modelling, particularly in relation to sovereign risk profile of emerging markets. Financial support may be available.