ECONOMIST CAN’T COUNT

As a field of study economics falls into the behavioural category and unlike say maths, is not one of absolutes. Nevertheless, one would assume some comprehension of sums would be a pre-requisite, say up to a 13 year old school pupil’s level. Seemingly not so.

AUT senior economics lecturer Rahul Sen wrote an article in the New Zealand Herald on the likely economic effects of coronavirus, which included this gem.

“A worse case scenario would look like this. Zero visitor arrivals from China until March 2020, followed by an increase of 50%”

I read that to a 12 year old, a 14 year old and one of my gardeners. All immediately laughed. Rahul; take notice. 50% increase of nothing is nothing.

In fairness Rahul’s blunder may well lie with his inept wordsmithing as possibly he was referring to last year’s figures as a measure.

Economists sometimes have a forest and trees problem. One example was that of the then Westpac chief economist back in the early 1990’s.

New Zealand was reeling in recession under the then ill-considered monetary policy. Our best and brightest were fleeing in droves to Australia. Then came a ray of sunshine with an unexpected sharp upward spike in dairy prices, to which great news the Westpac clown issued a handwringing statement fretting over the possible inflationary effects of this windfall.

One Comment

Alas, poor fredonas!

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