g(t) = a + by


Somebody decided that studying development would involve a lot of economics. And somebody in my university decided that we would do economics a lot (times) lot. And these somebodies are currently ruining my life and sleep.

I agree I should have studied these earlier, when they were being taught in class and I either vigorously nodded along – they all seemed to make sense then – or was nodding anyway – off to sleep. I agree that it’s four days before semester exams begin and I have no business talking about life or sleep, but you can read whatever I’ve said even through my college days, and life and sleep do not take a back seat ever in my life.

So right now, I am breaking my head over one blessed, Nobel laureate soul named Solow. Tagging along are his brethren Barro, Martin, etc. Somebody decided that they could randomly start off with an equation g(t) = a + byo. Who said that was ok? What is ‘a’? What is ‘b’?! (They thankfully decided to clarify y is income). As if this wasn’t annoying enough, somebody decided to have fun and replace ‘a’ with alpha and ‘b’ with beta – really, what are you trying to pull here?! I know economics isn’t my strength at all, but I am a fairly logical person, but here all I see is a flagrant flouting of any kind of logic.

The other thing that really annoys me is how they quickly ‘assume’ things to ‘simplify.’ Let’s assume that labour productivity is constant. Let’s assume that all savings are invested. To simplify, let’s just divide both sides of the equation by L. I don’t know how it works in your world, but in mine, these aren’t simplifying things. And if you’re simplifying everything, please could you care to explain how these models can, in any tiny part of the world, help us understand the goings on in the economy or be used to predict the path of development most suited to them? Seriously, if you assume labour productivity is constant or that savings are invested, you’re assuming wrong. Get a reality check!

As I struggle to see how anything that any of these intelligent men said makes sense in the larger picture, the sample question paper from last year tells me to stop bothering and simply learn them by hook or by crook (the ‘crook’ method is what’s working now, with random ways of remembering models slowly beginning to be employed). I shamefacedly lament the lack of opportunity to write anything based on general observation or experience. I can’t help but laugh thinking of the plight of the poor professors who have to assess these (well, my) papers and imagine the looks of incredulity they might give at the absolute rubbish they will encounter. Too bad.

All I know is in just about 11 days, all of this will be over, and there will be a two-month break before the next bout begins. Wish me luck as I brace myself to delve deep once again into the world of misplaced letters, incomprehensible graphs and incongruous oversimplifications. 


Aravind said...

I've always sucked at economics, and can totally relate to the post.
My dad and mom have master's degree in Economics. Aana, enakku Ecnonmics allergy :D

waq said...

Economic statistics are like a bikini, what they reveal is important, what they conceal is vital

— Attributed to Professor Sir Frank Holmes, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 1967.

Vani Viswanathan said...

@ Aravind, MA in economics?! Hail! Not always to children take on what their parents are brilliant at.

@ Waqar, at the end of the day, revealed or concealed, it's all maya.

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

Hey its fun. i loved economics. but once in a while i have gotten gems like this from my prof - "i knew your foundation in economics is weak, but never expected your spellings to be this bad either"

Vani Viswanathan said...

Kausik I remember being shocked at your tanglish spellings. English liyum adhey case ah?

Alfie73 said...

Hi Vani :) I am truly intrigued by your blog. and one that has survived for 7 good years. :) I just stumbled upon it when I was searching for smth on google and clicked on a link that directed me to your "singlish" post from April 29 2006. Keep it going, I think i might become one of your regular readers even ;)


Vani Viswanathan said...

Hi Alfie73 - thanks so much! The Singlish post brings quite a bit of traffic to this day :)

Anonymous said...

neenga singapura?