On 15 August 2006, a friend who studied economics at a top American university and is now involved in helping set Singapore's economic direction asked me, "How do you get someone interested in a dry subject like Economics?"
I found it hard to answer this question. I gave a positive but absolutely vague answer to avoid adding to my friend's plight about his pet subject.
After all, I had abandoned economics after college to study law in university, and - as much as I did not admit to my friend - I too found economics to be a very dry subject!
That evening, as I walked around a book shop, a Singapore publication by Chen Z J, "Economists Say Goodbye To Economics", grabbed my attention - a result, clearly, of the conversation with my friend.
I found the author, who studied Economics at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, to be even more disillusioned about the subject.
In fact, he is so disillusioned about Economics that he is offering US$1,250,000 to any Nobel laureate in Economics to refute his findings, in particular two key "secrets" the author has discovered about how money works.
The bold author further questions that if no Nobel laureate can claim his prize, should economists even continue to be awarded the Nobel Prize every year?
I immediately bought the book not because I aspire to be a Nobel laureate and hope to eventually claim the cash prize that the author is offering, which could be a strong reason for many specialists in Economics around the world.
Instead, I bought the book for three other strong reasons:
1. The failed economist in me wanted to reinforce my reasons for dropping Economics many years ago.
2. I relished a good debate and challenge - my occupational hazard.
3. I wanted to know what were the two key "secrets" that the author had found.
In the next 102 pages, which I read that same night, I was brought on a journey by the author. He offered a colourful history of Economics. He willingly offered his own beliefs about how the world economy as we know it today has evolved. He described vividly about how economic growth could lead to the end of this world and why economists should really say goodbye to economics!
Having read the book, I found myself unsure about whether or not to believe the author.
If he is to be believed, the very future of Singapore and the rest of the world is at stake, including the jobs of the many experts like my friend advising our government on this vast subject called Economics.
If he is not to be believed, it certainly marks the perfect start for a very robust debate about the many arguments he provides in this book.
Then, voila, it dawned upon me! I had found in this book the perfect answer to my friend's question about how to encourage a person to be interested in Economics.
"Economists Say Goodbye To Economics" is recommended reading for both economists and non-economists. There is much food for thought in this book. The references at the end of the book are especially useful for an individual who wants to do read up more on the issues raised in the book.
The irony of "Economists Say Goodbye To Economics" is that it has given a "dry subject" like Economics a refreshing lifeline. You could also well end up a millionaire after reading this book! So who wants to be a millionaire?