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    09-Aug-2022

‘Economic theory and analysis does apply to Jordan’ - By YUSUF MANSUR, Jordan News

 

 

The writer is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.
 
Economic debate in Jordan, conducted mostly by non-economists, is devoid of solid economics, as if the work of thousands of economists  over 300 years has suddenly become irrelevant here.
 
 
 
Non-economists keep asserting that economic theory does not apply to the country, as if Jordan had been cut-off from another planet. Such an assertion clearly comes from ignorance and suits the pseudo-analysts of economic policy well.
 
Such flippant heresies are not surprising or uncommon; they have circulated for years, and in many other places, too.
 
The father of modern economics, John Maynard Keynes, frustrated by the claims of ignoramuses that economic theory does not work or apply, once said in the first quarter of the 20th century: “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
 
He elucidated further, just in case some had missed the point: “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”
 
There are many such people around who spout loudly such claims because it is easier for them to talk than to listen, and, being lazy, find it easier to dismiss and shun learning than absorb knowledge and adapt.
 
Any observer of the current policy debate will attest that it is devoid of depth and, consequently, merit. Individuals who do not know even the basics of supply and demand, the simplest economic model ever and one that is viewed by economists as a point of departure, make economic policies, and statements related to the present and future of Jordan’s economy that to trained economists who spent years learning at some of the best institutes in the world represent total and utter economic heresies.
Non-economists keep asserting that economic theory does not apply to the country, as if Jordan had been cut-off from another planet. Such an assertion clearly comes from ignorance and suits the pseudo-analysts of economic policy well.
An Arabic saying goes like this: “A fool may throw a stone down a well, but it would take a million wise men to pull it out.” It applies in our case too: once ignorant statements are made by the “all-knowing” mediocre pundits, it is very hard to push back, as the errors are serious and could take a long time to counter.
 
Given the current institutional set up, Jordan does not seem to be in need of trained economists since it already has over 10 million economists, and thousands of experts who gained their “expertise” from non-economic training.
 
Let us stop the onslaught of these “practical” men who are leading the country into a dark tunnel. The writing is on the wall and it should be heeded, with the help of true economists, not self-professed experts.
 
Economic theory and analysis does apply to Jordan and its institutions; that has to be understood even by those who think they know better, but who, instead, should stay humble, admit ignorance, and learn.
 
 
Yusuf Mansur is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.
 

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