[EDITORIALS]Holiday Blues Just the Beginning

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[EDITORIALS]Holiday Blues Just the Beginning

In terms of the economy, this year's Chuseok holidays brought deep grief. Instead of exchanging good news, most families were worried about slowing businesses or difficulties finding jobs. The nation's exports and imports for September, which were announced on Chuseok, made us even more depressed. Last month's exports were 16.6 percent lower compared with the identical period last year, representing the seventh consecutive month of decline. Amid the accelerating economic slump among developed countries due to the terrorist attacks in the United States, our expectations of export recovery before the end of this year are no more than dreams.

The government, which pledged to revamp the economy in the fourth quarter by renewing exports, is now rewording its promise. Deputy Prime Minister Jin Nyum, who had stressed that Korea would achieve a 4-percent growth rate this year, is now talking of 2-percent growth.

What irritated the people most during the Chuseok holidays was the "Lee Yong-ho Gate." The scandal, which involves businessmen, politicians, and prosecutors, cut into people's motivations and eroded the efficiency of the economy by obstructing the smooth operation of the markets. Most people remember that the scandal involving Hanbo Iron and Steel was one of the indirect causes of the foreign exchange crisis in late 1997. We have vivid memories of last year's scandals associated with Chung Hyun-joon and Chin Seung-hyun, which helped throw the booming economy into stagnation.

The real economic crisis begins now, after the holidays, as the U.S. war against terror - the most important variable in the global economy - enters a crucial phase. The government should reexamine its policies for maintaining the economy through a range of circumstances as the beginning of the war approaches. Seoul needs to deregulate investment activities of businesses so that the psychological unrest and the decline in the people's motivation resulting from recent corruption scandals in the midst of economic difficulties can be arrested. Households and companies can demonstrate their power to heal the economy and to overcome these tough times by maintaining the will to carry out economic activities.
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