Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Malaysian Economics Commentators

I was lamenting the other day about the lack of public intellectuals in economics in Malaysia. You know, those who write good op-eds, weekly columns, blogs and so on, on Malaysian economic issues.

We do have some interesting non-economics public intellectuals, especially lawyers, but I still can't find our versions of Martin Wolf, Willem Buiter, John Kay and Tim Harford of the FT, or top econobloggers like Mark Thoma, Tyler Cowen, and Kling and Caplan, or famous blogging academics, like Dani Rodrik, Brad deLong, Greg Mankiw, Becker and Posner, and Paul Krugman. And of course, the occasional articles from Project Syndicate or the fantastic VoxEu.

We do have some op-eds in the Edge I guess, which is good. But they are mostly financial market-oriented which are rather CNBC or Bloomberg-ish.

Why is this so? It could be due to the lack of demand for them - who wants to read about economics in Malaysia right? But I think Say's Law might be relevant in this situation.

Or maybe there are some economics commentators in Malaysia, and it is just that I do not know of them. In this case, can anyone point me to them?

Thank you thank you.


P.S.: Hate exams.


Anonymous said...

all the best in your exams, elanor =)


hhc said...

the lack of economic commentators originate from the lack of interest in economics as an academic discipline.after all, one cannot talk intelligently about economic affairs without first mastering economics.

economics isn't a sought-after area of study....at least not in malaysia.there are, of course, plenty of reasons for this.

particularly in the malaysian private HE sector,students typically choose their university courses based on employability and what is currently in fashion. they may not be fascinated with accounting but they do it anyway because it helps them secure a job easily.as a result,a uni programme will sell well if passing certain modules leads to exemptions in ACCA,ICAEW or any other professional exams.additionally, there arent any institutions that prize serious economic thinkers in malaysia not even the central bank where economist are not even allowed to publish their research. ironically the best way for bank negara economists to get promotion is not by doing cutting-edge research but writing speeches for the powers-that-be.reason? the management does not understand nor appreciate economic research.there is also a great deal of herding effect partly because the parents have alot of say in what their kids can or cannot do.if an individual declares her interest to pursue economics, her parents would most probably ask her to do medicine or actuarial science instead, where there is greater job security.

another reason for the lack of economic commentators....reading economics requires some level of literacy.in a society that values food more than good ideas, it is not surprising that there are few readers out there who appreciate economics. take a look at the local bookstores...the collections of economic literature in borders and kino are a joke compared to those in waterstones.book sellers probably concluded that if they displayed more economics books than what they are doing now, they'd probably fold.

finally,also related to the lack of literacy, many of the lecturers in our local unis probably last read a book after getting their phds. their learning stopped right there. of course, part of the problem is the lack of a culture to be inquisitive. without continuous learning and reading, how could they possibly write something decent in columns or blogs?

there is one malaysian academic economist cum blogger in msia whom i know. he's not full-time into blogging yet but his thoughts are pretty provoking. you can get his link here: http://casseylee.blogspot.com/

btw...you can turn into an economic blogger yourself. go ahead and fulfill say's law.

Elanor said...

Feliz - Thanks.

hhc - Thanks for the lengthy comment, and thank you for cassey lee's link!

Benkaiser said...

I took up economics in form 3 and continued it all the way to my degree majoring in economics and finance.

I was interested in think tanks like MIER or even joining a political party to help formulate economic policies.

Even wrote an economic commentary piece which was published in The Star in 2003. I'd the intention to pursue economic commentating as a career focusing on Malaysia and Asia.

But as fate has it, I am no longer in Malaysia but I still do keep Malaysian economic scene close to my heart. If time permits, I will pursue writing commentaries at the side.

oyster cove said...

I am an electrical engineer. My childhood ambitious is to become an economist and I still kept the ambitious till today even I am 28 years old now. I will become a future economist.

Do you think if I enrol for University of London EXTERNAL DEGREE programme for economics could help me realise my dream? Any advise.

Elanor, I wish you could become the most famous Malaysian econoblogger in history.

Elanor said...

oyster - the external system of UL is pretty good an option for those who require flexibility and have the self-discipline to work on their own. And it is pretty well-acknowledged too, as far as I know. The diploma in Economics for graduates has LSE as the lead school.

shag said...

One problem is a lack of transparency in release of data. Start digging into a subject & before long one ends up at a roadblock of unavaiable or non existent data on Malaysia.

nat said...

good economics commentators in Malaysia?


BE the change you wish to see, muahaha :)

:P :)

Rais said...

Malaysia lacks intellectual commentators on almost all aspect. Economy, you have the potential, All the best.

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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