It has been said that economics is a science without humor. Something dangerous, of course: full of mathematical formulas, specialized terms that normal humans do not understand and accumulates predictions that, unfortunately, never come true, as if they were weather forecasts.
And for good reason, he called it a bleak science, a title that speaks for itself, because it produces neither laughter nor joy, but rather grief, anxiety … and tears. From economists, as expected, the same is said.
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At the end of the day, with few and honorable exceptions, they are marked by seriousness, especially when they debunk theories, do math, present conclusions and show us where the economy is headed, without anyone else taking it for granted.
Not surprisingly, then, his behavior is very far from the enthusiasm of other professionals, such as musicians.
But exceptions to the rule are never lacking. Or outings in a good mood, to be exact. Or the facts that give way to that, as we’ll see below, based on the new edition of my book Protagonistas de la Economía Colombiana, recently published on Amazon.
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Let’s start with the heads of state who ultimately, even in economic matters, have the upper hand.
For example, Carlos Lyras Restrepo (1908-1994), in whom no one disputes his authority in this regard, and who exhibited it in the modern gymnasium, where he was chair of the chair of political economy.
According to Fernando Gaviria Cadavide (1931-2014), one of his students who would later become Minister of Communications, he was so enthusiastic, brilliant speaker, and so involved in his story that he sometimes stayed for two hours to teach – When only one speaks to him! -, refused to comment his speech when he saw the next professor, who peeked out, to warn him that his time was up.
I also only took the oral tests, not the written one.
“Communication!” The first warning to the student who showed signs that he was not very familiar with the lesson; “Sit!” It was the second, and when the matter was hopeless, he publicly commanded: “Sit, young man! It’s zero!”
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From Valencia to Sambre
From Guillermo León Valencia (1909-1971), not to mention. His financial prime minister, Carlos Sanz de Santamaría (1905-1992), was forced to reduce the value on two occasions, as a major scandal was launched that pitted the government against the wall, but when he himself declared that it was the only way out, in the third cut, the president stopped him cold “The dog doesn’t care twice!”
Ernesto Samper Pisano, for his part, won a gold medal here because humor, in his case, is bad in the family. One test suffices: during his government (1994-1998), the economic administration came under heavy attack by the Congress of the Republic, whose opposition leader was Senator Juan Camilo Restrepo, one of his former professors at the University of Javriana.
“If I continued at those – He warned him in an active tone during a meeting at the palace -, I will say he is my teacherTo conclude with this joke: “And the person who looks bad is you…”.
Finance ministers, the country’s highest economic authorities, are not far behind.
They asked President Ospina Perez
Why did Alfonso Palacio not name Rodas in the Ministry of Finance, and answered: “Because suddenly he has to pay the external debt in one fell swoop!
Thus, Alfonso Palacio Rodas (1912-1996), the famous Couvred, claimed, with false modesty, that his reputation as an expert in public finance “earned badly”, while at the same time he was proud of himself for being a warrior against icons and not swallowing them completely, saying here and there phrases Devastated against his colleagues, even his nephew Eduardo Sarmiento, the former dean of the economy of the Andes, has not escaped them.
When President Mariano Ospina Perez (1891-1976) was asked why he had not been named by the Finance Ministry, his answer was no clearer: “Because suddenly he is pushing the external debt with a sting!” According to us. He was laughing again, almost drowning in his huge library.
In fact, Abdoun Espinosa Valderrama (1921-2018) also showed his display when responding to President Lleras Restrepo’s offer to take over the position in 1966. His words answered the call: “Let’s not waste time.” “I also thought about the same thing,” he added with complete confidence.
Rodrigo Llorente (1928-2016) said something similar when he mentioned that when he was only thirty years old, he was appointed Minister of Public Works in 1959 by Alberto Lleras Camargo (1906-1990). He assured that the boldness was not mine, but the president who had appointed me.
Homes are in recession
On the one hand, Rudolf Homes apologized to reporters for describing the coffee farmers as “bankrupt” in the midst of a debate about bean policy, not without making it clear that his withdrawal was due to a slap on the wrist of his boss, Cesar Gaviria. He pointed out that “wherever the captain rules, the sailor does not rule.”
On the one hand, this sparks the fun, when Rudy, the father of economic openness in the early 1990s, recounts the adventure he had with his beloved girlfriend, who had just graduated as an engineer from UDL: Opening a warehouse for handbags, completely manually, where they broke after they started Very well and they reached the big leagues in the world of capitalist business.
“This was my first personal recession.” Confesses sadness.
A year without a minister!
One cannot help but smile knowing that in a period of four years for Valencia (1962-1966), we have not had a finance minister for a whole year, without anything serious happening!
Why? Here’s the best: After Diego Cali’s departure from the wallet, the position was offered to Ignacio Cubetti Lizaraldi, who did not accept the offer because he, in turn, demanded a devaluation.And when Hernando Duran Doosan was appointed (1920-1998), he couldn’t take possession, and God knows why.
Finally, in 1965, the father of Plan Vallejo, Joaquín Vallejo (1912-2005), took over the ministry, a new program of global recognition that was crucial to increasing exports, also favored by the dreaded devaluation!
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Cut down a tree
For personal stories, even with a family tree on board, there is a lot of fabric to cut.
Thus, Rodrigo Llorente’s first grandfather in Colombia participated in Spain’s restoration of Pablo Murillo, even with troops in command, even as he succumbed to the creole love of Bubanega that made him a patriot, while his grandfather Gregorio is related to Thomas. Cipriano de Mosquera (1798-1878), died on the battlefield during the Thousand Days War (1899-1902).
José Consegra Higgins (1924-2013), a promoter of development theory in Latin America, missed his grandfather Silvestre, who, in addition to being an engineer, built ports on the Magdalena River and the first national railroad between Barranquilla and Puerto Colombia who was also a doctor in homeopathy and left a book On snakes and venomous features, it was a bestseller of his time.
Men – Always homes! -, While studying Business Administration with an MBA degree in the United States, he was a waiter, babysitter and an expert in more small business, Special for Latinos.
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Perhaps this work experience enabled him to be a Rompero and to appear in front of strong and respected boards of directors, with hippie necklaces and bracelets, as a worthy representative of Minister Rodrigo Botero’s school in Alfonso Lopez Michelsen (1974-1978).
And Juan Carlos Echeverry, Minhasenda in the early term of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2014), decided to suspend studies on the philosophy of economics in Germany because one of the professors, having learned of his epistemological concerns, told him that these things had already gone through fashion no one interested.
“It seems they are still living in their country in the economic cave!” The teacher’s words were for his expulsion, which was enough for the young Colombian to change his career, as he obtained a postgraduate degree in international economics.
Finally, it should be noted that Another sample of the great humor of some of our best economists is the fact that, after leaving the ministry (the Treasury, in general), they offer a positive balance in their management, Which their immediate successors, to whom they attribute, in the rearview mirror, usually deny the evils for which they are victims …, as do their superiors, the heads of the moment.
Gales will be said to be from the customary relationship between governments. Or the lack of continuity in policies, and always rejecting its continuity, which the new mandate is accused of if it remains in the hands of the previous ruling party
In short, this is how our economic history unfolds, as its heroes tell it. Not to mention what historians say about it …
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Jorge Emilio Sierra Montoya *The former director of “La República” newspaper, he holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Javeriana and author of “Protagonistas de la Economía Colombiana”.