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Now that's a multiplier effect!

Vietnamese and US currency

From the Vietnam News this morning, on the State Bank's plan to fight recession by providing a 4 percent interest rate subsidy for qualifying industries that need loans to boost economic output:

"Money for the subsidy will be drawn from the VND 17 trillion ($977 million) stimulus package, which is projected to inject VND 420 trillion ($24 billion) into the economy within a year."

A multiplier of 24! Even John Boehner would have a hard time saying no to that kind of stimulus. And in Vietnam's $85 billion economy, that means we can expect GDP growth of 30 percent this year!

More seriously, the Vietnamese press is riddled with this kind of error. It often makes it hard to figure out what's going on in the economy. Sometimes it's clear that someone just misplaced a decimal point or wrote "billion" for "million," but at other times, as in this article, you simply have no idea what they're talking about. It's a form of economic inefficiency people don't think about often enough: When your symbolic analyst class can't handle numbers and statistical concepts, it's a drag on the whole economy. The government has been talking for years now about the need to invest in creating world-class universities in Vietnam — right now too many of the country's best and brightest are forced to study abroad — and it's clear that this really should be a priority.