[EDITORIALS]Thorns in the economic rose

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[EDITORIALS]Thorns in the economic rose

Listening to government officials, one could be forgiven for believing that everything was coming up roses for the Korean economy. Following an optimistic forecast by the Deputy Finance Minister Han Duck-soo, Vice Minister of Finance and Economy Bahk Byong-won said the nation’s economy is in overall recovery amid balanced exports and domestic demand. He added that the economy is projected to grow around 6 percent within the first quarter and that yearly economic growth would be around 5 percent, creating an extra 350,000 to 400,000 new jobs. But this is more a case of rose-tinted lenses than real roses budding ― it would sure be great if the economy performed according to his predictions.
But will it? As the won-dollar exchange rate plummets, export-driven firms are in deep trouble; consumer psychology, which briefly showed signs of life, has been less positive over the past two months. The reality is not that exports and domestic demand are balanced, but that exports are quickly fading and domestic sales show no signs of blooming. Even the economic upturn, which began late last year, appears ready to stop its rally, but in a deplorable case of denial, government policymakers still stick to their predictions of 6-percent growth in the first quarter.
These policymakers are using plucked data out of optimistic indices ― why include the negative? ― to draw rosy pictures. Are they thinking if the first three months see economic growth, it doesn’t matter what happena next?
The circumstances surrounding the Korean economy are not likely to suddenly turn better. The currency exchange rate will continue to drop and the momentum behind the growth in oil prices will come to a screeching halt. Labor strikes are sprouting up this season the same way they have every other year, and if this weren’t bad enough, the prosecution’s investigation of Hyundai Motors further rend our economic growth.
These bureaucrats are supposed to be agonizing over how to solve the tasks ahead. But if they keep repeating that the economy is doing fine ― don’t worry your pretty little head about it ― their soothing tone of voice will quickly lose its luster.
This is not meant to instigate the people who have pointed to several economic indices indicating trouble. But it important that we try to look reality in the eye and try to deal with the situation before it gets worse. No rose will bloom in a garden that is cultivated so negligently.
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