May 10, 2018 13:06
A Chosun Ilbo poll marking the first anniversary of the Moon Jae-in administration has found that only 11.8 percent of Koreans feel the economy has improved, while 49.4 percent believe it has gotten worse. Only one out of 10 felt the job market got better, while more than half felt it has become tougher to find work.
Government statistics paint a similar picture. With the sole exception of booming semiconductor exports owing to a global industry boom, most economic indices have headed down. Unemployment surged to a 17-year high in March, while industrial output dropped by the biggest rate in five years. The factory operation rate across the nation stands at just 70.3 percent, which is the lowest since the 2008 global financial crisis. But the government claims that an annual GDP growth rate of three percent for two straight years is something to brag about.
The Moon administration made job creation its top priority, but 38.8 percent of scholars at the Association of Korean Economic Studies cite the government's job-creation policies as its worst blunder. The government bulldozed through a minimum wage hike and giving temporary workers permanent status, scrapping policies aimed at making the labor market more flexible, and shortening work hours have actually had a negative impact on job creation.
That is how 70 percent of the respondents see it. They believe the government actually ended up harming job growth. Its pro-labor policies have prevented much-needed industrial reforms and ended up causing jobs to be cut. And politically motivated scrutiny of businesses continue with the government mobilizing financial regulators and prosecutors against the big conglomerates. Only a magician could create jobs under these conditions.
The government's economic policies are based on the firm belief that old-fashioned leftist policies are good and big businesses are evil. This justifies its generous use of taxpayer' money to finance its policies. According to the Bank of Korea, state spending outpaced private spending by a whopping 31 percent in the first quarter to reach a 35-year record. Reliance on tax spending is addictive. Korea may end up walking down the doomed paths of socialist Latin American and southern European governments.
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