Whose fault then?The Korean economy has been doing poorly since President Moon Jae-in took office in May last year. Except for semiconductor shipments, the data — output, investment, jobs and consumption — paints an economy in the doldrums. Output and investment have been skidding for six months in a row. The number of unemployed has exceeded one million for the ninth straight month this year. While all other developed economies are doing better than expected this year, the Korean economy is projected to underperform this and next year.
Yet Moon’s key aides remain proud. Jang Ha-sung, the president’s policy chief, and Blue House officials claimed that some of the hyped warnings about the economy facing crisis were dampening investment sentiment and economic conditions. He has discredited the warnings from think tanks at home and abroad as being groundless.
Jang defended the administration’s policies, claiming that the administration’s policies were aimed to correct the discrepancies between economic growth and uneven distribution toward an economy generating income, innovation and fairness. “We cannot go back to the past,” he said. “An economy, when left in the hands of the market, would fall into bigger anomaly.”
His perception of the economy and policy is disappointing. The economic policy under the Moon administration lacked professionalism and a sense of reality as it was entirely led by a few progressive scholars. Under those stubborn figures, the economic experiment that wreaked havoc on the economy would go on. The economy backed by a reckless expansion of the budget could be headed for the same path of doom like bankrupt Venezuela. Jang claimed people will feel the positive effects starting next year. Kim Su-hyun, the senior secretary for social affairs rumored to be replacing Jang, is no different.
The economic challenges won’t be solved simply by changing faces. The president must have better awareness of the economy and dramatically change course based on balanced views.
Woo Suk-hoon, an economist of the progressive front, advised the second economic team to be formed based on professionalism — not loyalty or ideology, criticizing the people in the Blue House for remaining unaware of the economic and business situation.
JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 5, Page 30