(Originally broadcast on Nov. 27, 2009, on The Frank Show, here.)
It is the long Thanksgiving weekend in the US. And even though I’m not there, I feel part of the spirit of the holiday and so I want to give thanks tonight. After all, that is the reason for the holiday. So to all you economists out there, I thank you.
I’m serious. I love you guys. I can not, in all honesty, say that any of my best friends are economists. But I’ve never met one I didn’t like. Including the first one I met, Father Joseph Zrinyi, who taught Macroeconomics 101 at my university. He was terrific.
You see, without economists, I’m not sure what we would talk about all day. I’m not sure WHO we would talk to all day.
I’ve been told, and I agree, that part of my job is to bring you a perspective from someone who has lived in AND WITH business most of their life but from outside Romania. I do enjoy pointing out how things are different here. Well, then, let me tell you, I have never before seen economists as popular as they are here. They’re like rock stars. Sought after. Photos in the paper. Interviewed. Household names just about.
You might not believe this, but in other countries people actually avoid talking to economists. Or listening to them. They think they’re boring. Like killing time sitting on a beach and talking to a fisherman about how high the waves are going to be tomorrow. Yes, that can be relaxing on a vacation for a day or two. But every day, two or three times, to see, to read, to hear about the same thing over and over – the same thing that doesn’t change much day in and day out. People in other countries don’t know what they’re missing.
So maybe you’re thinking, I’m being a bit harsh. I don’t mean to be. Listen, economists have a profession as interesting as any other in which you sit behind a desk all day. Nevermind the jokes about the fact they have correctly predicted nine of the last five recessions, or the one where three men are stranded with a can of soup and no way to open it. The economist has his solution. “First, assume there’s a can opener.”
No. I won’t tell those jokes. And it’s no joke that I say, I have personally liked each of the economists I’ve met here. They are smart and articulate and friendly. Mister Lungu tonight was terrific. I enjoy interviewing them. But they’re like doctors. They have diagnosed our recession and they have given their prognosis. There are some disagreements among them. But, if I’m sick, I don’t need to talk to my doctor every day to know that I’m still sick. I don’t need 20 of them to give me the same prognosis within a couple tenths of a percent. I don’t need my temperature taken every five minutes.
I knew this preoccupation with economists was getting out of hand recently after I was interviewed for several publications. They have ALL asked ME about the economy. That’s like asking the guy in the hospital bed next to me how I’m doing. I mean he’s heard everything my doctor has told me, why shouldn’t he comment and give his opinion? One of the questions even started with assuming I WAS an economist. Actually, I liked that one. I felt for a minute like a rock star. So to all you economists who made THAT possible, thank you – and a belated Happy Thanksgiving.