A necessity

Reaching for Top World Economists

19 July 2014 | 18:27 Code : 1936037 From Other Media General category
Reaching for Top World Economists

When you are unusually ill, the best thing to do is to consult several specialists. Each specialist suggests a certain way of treatment and, at the end, it is you who should decide which one to follow relying on your common sense and the specialist’s fame. You visit a physician since you are ignorant to the illness and they help you enlighten. But as said earlier, it is the patient who finally decides whom to rely. Although in many cases treatment plans may be similar, sometimes it is a question of life or death.

The same thing holds true in the context of government and economists. Consulting economists increases government’s awareness of economic issues. Unlike the previous one, the new government realized the importance of building such a relationship from the start. Undoubtedly, closer relations helps picture a better prospect for the economy. However, it is the government and decision makers’ choice of treatment that affects the final outcomes.

Consensus impossible

Upon the assumption of the office of the new government, the economists who were active in the government believed they could find consensus among experts and achieve desired outcomes. At the time, while admitting that it was useful to consult experts, some warned that reaching consensus on best policies remains unattainable. In fact, the government believed various economic policies could be better implemented by establishing bilateral relations and converging views. Convergence, of course, is very important especially when it comes to corrective policies. But the government should bear in mind that sometimes the views of economists are so divergent that no common point can be identified. Therefore, consensus among them is impossible and any optimism in this regard is in vain. The government and the economists should admit that the chance at hand is short-lived and that they cannot possibly converge all views and arrive at a unanimous consensus. The economists should offer their advice and let the government do its job. This is an inevitable reality.

Constant interaction: a must

The government should continually seek views and criticism from different groups; however, it should not insist on reaching a common stance or converging views. Economic policies should be fed from one intellectual pool so that contradictions and deviations are avoided and their functionality well preserved. Internal consistency of policies is needed as much as convergence in execution. It is illogical to sacrifice consistency for convergence. Thus, the government should seek advice from economists to the extent possible and then choose among the recommended solutions. The government should accept the fact that it is not possible to find unanimous consensus among economic views. It should simply execute the policy developed through interactions with economists which is consistent yet not necessarily convergent. 

Connecting with world’s top financial figures

The government should not confine itself to the in-house economists. They may be well familiar with the science yet that does not mean they can offer whatever the government needs to know. This is where world renowned economists come in. Consultation here means establishing close connections with those foreign economists that are ready to focus more than ever on the economy of Iran and provide policy advice for the government.

Today, the effectiveness of using foreign expertise in sports has become clear to the Iranians more than ever. Why not extending the practice to other areas such as economy which is closely linked with the welfare of citizens? Of course, the process requires time. Just like a foreign trainer that cannot be expected to achieve success in a particular sports match overnight, foreign economists should also be recruited and given time to get familiar with the economy of Iran in order to provide useful solutions and advice. Therefore, certain projects can be defined in order to utilize their expertise in different areas of economy.

This article does not seek to rule out the competency of national economists in tackling problems but to highlight better results that can be achieved through joining hands with world economists who may have deeper knowledge of the science. The practice is popular even among developed countries where economists are employed based on their competency regardless of their nationality. A good example of such a practice is the current governor of Bank of England, Mark Carney, who is not British but is at the helm of highest monetary entity in England. Britain is the home to many renowned economists and best faculties and universities of economics. Nevertheless, they have preferred to appoint a Canadian to run the Bank of England as he has ranked higher than his British peers in terms of expertise. An examination of economic trend of England reveals that he was the right choice as England is the only country which has recorded the highest economic growth with the least inflation since the outbreak of recession in 2008. Isn’t it wise to learn lessons from developed countries like England? Of course, even if the greatest of Nobel laureates accept to serve in Iran, there are limitations in terms of appointing foreigners in sensitive positions. But still it is possible to design interesting projects where these economists invest their expertise. This is not a proposal but a necessity.


Initially published in Tejarat-e-Farda weekly magazine