Monday 28 August 2006

On Economists, or the Useless Snails

As from early 1990s when Vietnam adopted its open economic (or foreign) policy, the role that economics plays in a society’s progress has been reviewed and uplifted. Economics colleges began to attract the ‘elite’ students from high-quality schools, and the entrance examination became a tough competition. Economic students therefore have good reasons to be proud. They take proud in being chosen by the college, being incorporated into an academic group called ‘economists’, and being able to make contribution to the nation’s growth.

I was fortunate enough to win a seat at Hanoi Foreign Trade University. Since then I have noticed a common characteristic in almost all students who major in economics, that is, they tend to act as scholars and make themselves incomprehensible. Talking with you, they can easily threaten you with such academic language as

‘We need, or to be more precisely, we must accept the (necessary) exchange between inflation and unemployment,’

‘Accept it or not, you have to admit that unemployment is the price we have to pay for a low inflation rate.’

‘The ignorance of the mass leads them to act like a herd of sheep,’

‘The invisible hand of the market will bring us all to a general equilibrium,’

‘The hot issue Vietnam is now confronting is how to upscale export while keeping import at an acceptable level,’


The mass, and the ‘would-be’ economists themselves, have a tendency to consider them as the only group entitled to talk about the nation’s future and strategy. Economists, and of course, the ‘would-be’ economists as well, have the legitimate right to work out the development plan of the national economy.

(more on this tomorrow)