Joseph Muscat is NOT an economist, so please stop lying about it

Published: November 21, 2011 at 9:54am

The Labour Party’s ability to repeat lies until they become ‘fact’, to the point where even its high officials believe them, never fails to astound me.

I can understand Cetta ta’ Nenu and Indri ta’ Xmun accepting without question that Joseph Muscat is an ‘ekonomista’, because they probably don’t even know what an economist is, still less have the ability to check out Muscat’s academic background, work experience and training and find out that they have absolutely nothing to do with economics.

But the Labour Party’s high officials? Its publicists and promoters like Joe Grima and his brother Godfrey? Are they really so uninformed that they don’t know what an economist is, or are they just being deliberately deceitful and lying very, very convincingly to the point where they have convinced even themselves?

Labour’s Alfred Grixti was on TVAM this morning, insisting that his leader Muscat is an economist. In a video I uploaded here yesterday, Godfrey Grima delivers a formal message of endorsement for Muscat as his preferred leadership candidate, telling his audience that the man is an economist.

How is he an economist?

He took a three-year B.Comm (general) degree course in management and public policy, ending in 1995, then ‘upgraded’ it to a BA Hons in public policy by staying on for an extra year, graduating in 1996. In those days, it was four years for honours and three years for general.

He then stayed on yet another year at the University of Malta, for a master of arts degree in European Studies, graduating in 1997.

Ten years later, after enrolling in a doctoral programme at the University of Bristol (he was a member of the European Parliament at the time and waited until Malta joined the European Union so that he would save on fees), he was given a PhD in management research.

So we have:

public policy
European Studies
management research

Now what about his work background? Let’s see. This is the sum total of his career, and again, economics does not feature (obviously, because you need the academic background to work in the field).

Muscat worked in the Labour Party’s propaganda machine, first for Super One Radio, then for Super One television, and then for the news portal Maltastar.

After that, he spent some months working for Alfred Mifsud’s financial advisory firm, Crystal Finance.

Then he became a member of the European Parliament, for four years.

And then he became leader of the Labour Party.

76 Comments Comment

  1. gianni says:

    So he got his Phd while still working as a MEP ? He has a tight schedule from Brussels to Bristol.

    [Daphne – Yes. He was elected to the European Parliament in 2004, and got his doctorate in 2007. Work it out. Nahseb aqta kemm ghamel xoghol kemm fuq il-PhD u kemm fil-parlament.]

  2. La Redoute says:

    Be fair. He actually set up Maltastar, and set the standards it still applies today.

  3. Neil Dent says:

    I’d delete the bit about Maltastar from my CV if I was Dr. Muscat.

    I’ve just been browsing the comments beneath the story(, yesterday) about the PM’s 10 questions to Dr. Muscat.

    It’s incredible! They range from disbelief at Gonzi’s arrogance, to the more popular vibe of ‘Gonzi has to ask Muscat because he doesn’t know the answers himself!’ or, ‘wait until after the election and Joseph will give you the answers’.


    [Daphne – No, just the Labour Party’s wumaodang ]

  4. Michael says:

    Daphne, seriously, being an economist, public policy maker, kennies, bennej, whatever, doesn’t change my and I think any reasonable person’s image, about Joseph Muscat. the fact that he brings better arguments, ideas, and a better form of govt alone, willl suffice to vote for his party and his ideas in 2013 (if they are based on the same principles as today’s)

    • Matija says:

      So a lovely case of a blind leading the blind? I’d rather have someone who knows what he’s doing milli xi hadd taparsi jifhem jmexxi pajjiz. Jack of all trades – master of none.

  5. maryanne says:

    On budget day, he said so himself. His exact words were “Jien, bhala ekonomista….”

    Even if all his studies were in economics, that doesn’t make him an economist. An economist is someone who, apart from being qualified in the subject, has worked for a considerable numbers of years in the sector and more importantly, he must have published papers, articles and/or books.

  6. not an economist 2 says:

    ….. and another one

    ‘Joseph Vella Bonnici, economist, graduated in Economics and Maltese from the University of Malta. After being elected commonwealth scholar, he continued his studies at Victoria University, New Zealand, from where he obtained his Master’s degree in Public Policy. In 1977, he joined the Malta Development Corporation and in the early 1980s was seconded to Enemalta Corporation, during which time he headed the Petroleum Division. In 1990 he joined Simonds Farsons Cisk and was eventually appointed as General Manager for Marketing, Sales and Distribution. He helped set up the Institute for the Promotion of Small Enterprises and in 1997 was appointed its CEO. In 1996, was appointed chairman of the Forum For a Better Economy. He lectures at the University of Malta and a regular commentator and writer in the media. ‘

    So a BA general degree in economics and Maltese makes one an economist ? …. only in Malta. Probably same class as Marlene Mizzi.

  7. H.P. Baxxter says:

    I’m not surprised. Even Alfred Sant is described as an economist.

    It’s simple. The Compleat List of Jobs in Malta is:

    Programmer (“Developer”) post-1990ish
    Inginier (the new Avukat)
    Anyone else is either Ekonomista or a nobody.

    If you’re a woman, the nobody can be upgraded to Tikteb il-Kotba tar-Ricetti.

  8. ciccio2011 says:

    If he were an economist, why would he ask Edward Scicluna to prop him up every time the words budget and GDP are mentioned?

    It is worth watching last Saturday’s Disset, during which Prof. Scicluna got very nervous.

  9. Peter Pan says:

    I too was surprised this morning by what Alfred Grixti said. Had it been Cetta tan-Navy, I wouldn’t have bothered, but from Alfred, who is standing for election, this is interesting.

  10. Antoine Vella says:

    There have been instances when Joseph Muscat was economical with the truth.

    That counts for something I suppose: he’s a truth economist.

    I still remember Mintoff closing down the Faculty of Economics with the excuse that we don’t need economists because everyone knows how to practise economy (jagħmel ekonomija).

  11. Jozef says:

    I wonder if his PhD coincided with some assignment for the EU parliament, with all the assistance, researchers and staff available to MEPs.

    It could explain his PSE branding and Martin Schultz’s endorsement.

  12. Julian says:

    … does anyone believe he wrote his PhD thesis?

  13. rustic fairy says:

    He did that Ph.D so that he could become leader of the Labour Party and have Super One call him DokterJosephMuscat.

  14. Richard Borg says:

    What is your opinion regarding the above?

    [Daphne – I don’t have one. Cabinet memos are never published (obviously – otherwise they would be memos to the general public), and the prime minister is fully within his rights to decide whether to make certain people or organisations privy to them. You may have noted that I am quite keen on procedure. So if I have an opinion at all, it is that I am happy to see that the prime minister has stuck to established procedure instead of ignoring it.]

    • Richard Borg says:

      how convenient

      [Daphne – It’s got nothing to do with convenience, ‘Richard Borg’. If I didn’t have a way of looking at things that’s different to yours, we would be voting for the same political party.]

      • Richard Borg says:

        Any reason why my name is in inverted comas?

        [Daphne – I have a sneaking suspicion that it isn’t real. But if it is, forgive me.]

  15. Bus Driver says:

    If the Code of Ethics for journalists published today are duly observed, it would seem that we are in for acres of blank pages in Malta Today and in KullHadd, as well as long minutes of silence and blank screens in the One Radio and TV news bulletins and, mercifully, also in the Saviour Balzan video blog..

  16. oldtimer says:

    In a previous contribution,somewhere, I said that “BLUFF” was the operating word with Labour Party. At one time thay tried (and failed) to ridicule the Nationalist Party because it was made up of lawyers; now they, by fair and FOUL means they are trying to chieve as many DOKTORS as possible.

  17. Reviewer says:

    Did he publish anything in peer reviewed journals?

    [Daphne – Apparently not. Face jit, the jury’s out on whether he actually wrote his thesis.]

  18. Alfred Bugeja says:

    Please Daphne… FEMA courses are B. Com. not B. Comm. Communications students might find the comparison offensive.

  19. David Thake says:

    Please… of course he’s an economist! Cara daqs il-kristall ….

  20. k farrugia says:

    “In those days, it was four years for honours and three years for general.”

    For the sake of accuracy, the same laws pretty much apply for the current streams of B.Com courses.

    [Daphne – Splitting hairs, are we? Back then, it wasn’t possible to take honours in three years. Now, it is – with BA courses.]

    Regardless, the most important thing for Joseph is having obtained a doctorate so that he can be called Dr just like Dr Gonzi.

    [Daphne – I thought you were being sarcastic about Muscat when I read that line. And then I read the rest, and realised you were serious. Laburisti, I love you. You really cheer up a dull day of work.]

    It’s interesting to note that a number of prominent Labour people have strong academic backgrounds, the last two leaders hold doctorates from two of the top business schools, while Mintoff and Sciberras Trigona are Oxford alumni. It’s a pity that their academic excellence has hardly served in the running of the country throughout different periods.

    [Daphne – It just seems that way, K. Farrugia, because Laburisti like to boast about their academic backgrounds and use them as a substitute for ability or actually doing anything. Also, it is completely pathetic for grown men and women to speak about their degrees, or to go on about doctorates in middle age. The proper time for a doctorate is in your 20s. Otherwise just let it go, unless you actually need it for your career.]

  21. Ed says:

    And when did he graduate as a hairdresser?

  22. Jozef says:

    Given that The Times chose Attard’s 30kph speed limit as headlines.

  23. anthony says:

    X’cuc hu Roubini.

  24. Dee says:

    Any idea of how much if the ” ftit mil-hafna” was spent when the first Maltastar was set up?

  25. Dee says:

    Maltatoday are conducting yet another phone survey .

    Included in the list of blatantly misleading questions was one about who would you trust most, Franco Debono, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando or Jesmond Mugliet.

    Why these three of all people and not, for example, Mario Demarco, Chris Said and Joe Cassar?

  26. Paul Bonnici says:

    If Malta had not joined the EU, which is actually what he wanted, this guy would now be a ‘nobody’.

    How can someone research and write a doctoral thesis while working as a member of the European Parliament? He got his PhD at Bristol University, so he must have got it on merit. I studied at Bristol 10 years earlier.

    • gaetano pace says:

      Turi kemm kien prokkupat jahdem favur Malta waqt li kien membru Parlamentari Ewropew. Mhux ta b`xejn MEP Nazzjonalisti qed jghatu rizultat. Ghax dejjem fuq xogholhom.

  27. Matthew T says:

    As much as I enjoy this article and its points, I can’t help but be distracted by just how bald Muscat is in that photo.

    He looks dreadful.

    Why doesn’t he just give up already and shave off what little hair he has left?

  28. uhuru says:

    It’s called being economical with the truth.

  29. David Ellul says:

    I wouldn’t say he’s an economist as he doesn’t have any formal qualifications in the area and he didn’t work as an economist either. But what can he be called then professionally?

    [Daphne – Excuse me for stating the obvious, but it seems to be necessary: a politician. Or how about leader of the Labour Party? Or even, Leader of the Opposition?]

  30. kev says:

    Waste not, want not – here’s a comment I posted on Debono’s blog – it applies to you lot too:

    Mario Monti – Chairman of the European Branch of the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg attendee, ex-Goldman Sachs front man, not one single elected official in his cabinet… Surely you can see he’s a globalist – but then you don’t know what a globalist really means, hux? Do your research, Debono, but before that GROW UP. And by the way, you start by saying: “One of the travesties of the truth perpetrated by the British loony right is that the EU superstate has been part of a conspiracy to remove Silvio Berlusconi from power.” Who said this? Another idiot on the internet, perhaps? Here’s a hint, Debono: Berlusconi is just a blip. The globalist show is the one you’re completely missing. The grande finale is soon to come, but you’re missing much of the plot. Ghandi mohriet tajjeb ghalik, Debono.

    I also have a spare baqqun for Daphne, but she’s got taste and flair, so she wouldn’t use it.

    • Jozef says:

      Yes, but he still needs to get his proposals past the Italian parliament, which gave him a 500 strong of confidence. Berlusconi may have resigned his position as ‘Presidente del Consiglio’, (which does not correspond to prime minister), but holds a majority in the senate and has declared that should Monti overstay he’s ready to pull the plug.

      What’s interesting is that both major parties risk fragmentation, given that all polls show over 80% of Italians approving of Monti and his cabinet. Any party which thinks it can gain popularity by resisting the measures had better think twice.

      He’s also a knight of Malta, as are a number of his appointees. Rumour has it that Berlusconi was called to the Quirinale following the vatican’s call for Italy to regain some composure and the issue of a document carrying concrete proposals for ethical economic practice on a global level. Monti was the person envisaged to see these through.

      Berlusconi’s policies had created a noticeable increase in the rich poor divide in Italy.

      • kev says:

        You mean those good-for-nothing quislings in the camere? You’re betting on moulded algae, Jozef. I pity your outlook. It’s as if we’re discussing the Qrendi council.

        Monti is a globalist. His agenda is globalist. Democracy is over. Globalist dictatorship is the aspired future… but you were saying, so is it the Qrendi councillor who’s to blame for all this?

      • Jozef says:

        Don’t be so concerned for yours truly. I prefer someone who’s made it clear that he intends to stop the rot in a Europe which Franco-German axis has never been so weak.

        Both Sarkozy and Merkel have shown themselves to be more concerned with their electoral problems posing as a Kohl Mitterand duo, wreaking havoc with the Euro’s envisaged next step, that of a continental currency with one Central Bank with instruments in place to protect it against speculation and corresponding to nation states’ existence.

        The opponent at the moment is Germany, Berlusconi was graceful enough to step down, though he didn’t resist a parting shot to the need for this reform, which I think is essential.

        Having these two issue thinly veiled threats to Europe’s peace (yes they did say it, last week) pressing for their piecemeal Euro, creating the PIIGS, is not something to be questioned on a regional autonomist perspective alone.

        There’s been talk of Monti’s, and Draghi’s, past, blaming them for Italy’s and Greece’s predicament, the truth is never like today was there a need for better politics coming out of Brussels. Investors go where politics work and politicians serve.

        Can we please all subscribe to this? Or is the Union such a threat to the existence of the right, that even this is ignored?

  31. Jean says:

    Ma nafx. It gets scarier by the day! Can you imagine the repercussions of a person pretending to be a doctor when he isn’t?

    Or a chartered accountant saying his is one when he isn’t? How come politicians are always let loose?

  32. Giovanni says:

    Comment from a Labour Twit:

    Ramon Casha
    Today, 17:07
    Is Joseph Muscat a CEO or director or occupies another high position within Emirates?
    Did Joseph Muscat contact the pilot and give him/her orders?
    Did the plane take off then circle back to pick up Joseph Muscat?

    If the answer to any of those is “no”, then there is no comparison.

    [Daphne – Where was this comment posted?]

  33. Delacroixet says:

    Just a note, UOM insists that Bachelor of Commerce is to be abbreviated as ‘B.Com.’ The title ‘B.Comm’ refers to a Bachelor of Communications.

    If Muscat read a B.Com, specialising in management and public policy, he might have had three to four credits in economics at most. And these would be mostly a rehash of ordinary level in the first year and very basic advanced level topics in the second year.

    The ‘proper’ economics credits are left to students who actually choose it as a major. And even after finishing the whole course, most students are loath to call themselves economists – except when jesting.

  34. Harry Purdie says:

    My experience suggests that it is virtually impossible to earn a ‘quality’ PhD and work full time. In fact any thesis advisor wouldn’t allow it.

    Therefore, one could assume that either the degree is crap, his MEP performance was crap or he bought PhD over the internet.

    And, it IS deceitful to pass yourself off as an economist when you do not have the credentials. However, deceit appears to be the modus operandi of this bunch of clowns.

  35. Marku says:

    Bad day for Labour in yesterday’s papers. After Mark-Anthony Falzon the previous Sunday, yesterday was the turn of Claire Bonello, Jacques Zammit and Noel Grima to come out and say that Labour looks more and more clueless and that the PN may actually have a decent chance of winning the next election.

    I don’t know who Noel Grima is but the other two are certainly no fans of Gonzi and the PN.

    [Daphne – Noel Grima was my editor, first at The Malta Independent, then at The Malta Independent on Sunday.]

  36. Ghoxrin Punt says:

    I always thought that it was fraudulent to pass yourself off as being qualified in something when you are not.

    Can the police be asked to investigate this?

    • DV says:

      No, because being an economist is not a profession like being an accountant or a medical doctor. No warrant (recognised by law) is needed to be an economist hence the police do not come into it

      Its the same as being a computer programmer, you may not have a degree in computer science but you can still be considered to have this occupation if you have a numbr of years experience in the field.

      It would be accurate to say that Muscat is a politician by profession since this has been his full time job since 2004, first as an MEP then as a Maltese MP.

      • La Redoute says:

        Muscat has precisely zero years of experience as an economist.

      • Ghoxrin Punt says:

        Thank you DV for confirming my point. We can now safely ignore all the comments of economists (or wannabe economists for that matter) as they are bound by no ethics except for their political allegiance.

  37. WhoamI? says:

    U ija – mhux xorta int, jew?

  38. Nigel pace says:

    No hair today! What happened, ran out of spray?

    [Daphne – No. His advisors (or his wife) watched the videos on this website and thought ‘ah, better not’. He had a red rinse instead.]

  39. Mark Vassallo says:

    Daphne, I took an introductory course in economics in my first year at university. One thing that I remember from my very first class, was that there is no special qualification needed to call oneself an economist.

    Today, whilst reading your article, I remembered this comment from almost 30 years ago and looked it up.
    Here is an article which seems to support this line of thinking:

    [Daphne – Indeed. A better way would be to check the academic and career track record of actual economists, rather than people who ‘call themselves economists’. You need no qualification to call yourself anything, though you do need a warrant to practice in some areas. I can wake up tomorrow and start calling myself an archaeologist. Why not? I do have a degree in the subject. But that wouldn’t make me an archaeologist, only a charlatan. Muscat is a charlatan.]

  40. *1981* says:

    I always wonder how politicians manage to get their degrees so fast while working and managing a political career ( and family ). Is it just us poor mortals who agonise over dissertations and degrees?

  41. Silverbug says:

    PhD in 3 yrs? U gotta be kidding me! Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a thriving underground industry of ghost authors! Even so, three years.Yeah, right.

    [Daphne – If you’re doing it full time it’s three years. Three years is in fact what is expected of you, if you wish to be taken seriously. But part time, then yes, I agree.]

    • George says:

      It depends on the policies of the university. As far as I know, a PhD in Britain is three years full-time but publications in peer-reviewed journals are not mandatory.

      On the other hand, in the Netherlands, they give scholarship contracts of 4 years but the candidate is expected to publish two to four papers in peer-reviewed journals.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      I did mine in three years, and I had to juggle a full time career as party animal and gigolo.

      [Daphne – Imma int brillanti, qalbi.]

      • Harry Purdie says:

        Well done, Baxxter. Very impressed. Could never get that gigolo thing right.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        I just thought I’d set the record straight, since there seems to be a lot of confusion about PhDs, especially now that everyone and their dog is jetting off on a STEPS scholarthingumijig (invariably to some redbrick ex-polytechnic, but we’ll leave that for the moment).

        A PhD takes three years in Europe. And you’re expected to publish. Why? Simple. When you do a PhD, you don’t read the books. You write them yourself.

        And a PhD on stuff that’s already been written is useless, so you need to write new things and publish them.

        I’m talking three peer-reviewed publications as a minimum. That means reputable journals, not some ‘Rivista tax-Xjenza f’Malta” or “Journal of the Ouagadougou Philosophical Society.

        And it certainly doesn’t include publications with 50 authors, where you’re 43rd in the list.

        Yes, some people take forever to do their PhD, but then it becomes a sort of hobby. You don’t do it if you need it for your career, especially if you intend to go into acadaemia.

        So there. Having a PhD means jack shit. It’s the brains behind it that count.

      • George says:

        Further to my earlier post, PhDs in the Netherlands take 4 years. This is a fact.

        With respect to the rest I agree with Baxxter

  42. Michael says:

    Daphne, seriously, being an economist, public policy maker, kennies, bennej, whatever, doesn’t change my and I think any reasonable person’s image, about Joseph Muscat. the fact that he brings better arguments, ideas, and a better form of govt alone, willl suffice to vote for his party and his ideas in 2013 (if they are based on the same principles as today’s)

    [Daphne – You have already posted this exact same comment beneath under piece. You’re keen. So I’ll repeat my answer to you there: Yes, I know. Labour voters are very undemanding. Their party can sell them pretty much anything. The Nationalist Party has a hard time with its electors for the opposite reason.]

    • Michael says:

      Yes, that exact same comment was posted at 10am this morning…seems you had second thoughts about it… don’t wnt to repeat the answer nad FYI it is in the other article

      [Daphne – No, I didn’t have second thoughts about it. I was away from my desk all day.]

  43. Allo Allo says:

    On Inkontri he keeps peppering his ‘replies’ with an assertion that he is an economist.
    I tend to agree. He seems to be economical with the truth.

  44. James Grech says:

    Muscat is referring to himself as an economist (many times) just as i write during Grima’s talkshow…

  45. PV says:

    Since when did a person a person acquire a PhD and the person can’t be called a Dr. cause from some of the comment written there seems to be some people who need to get more knowledgeable on the system..

    [Daphne – Iehor il-vera tal-biki. Here they come, one by one, kull meta tmissilhom xi touchy point. ‘Dr’ does not mean ‘economist’, PV. All the propaganda about DoktorElfridSant (who wasn’t an economist either, incidentally, because his degrees, after his first, were in marketing and management) might have led you to that error, but there you go: it’s an error. ‘Dr’ just means somebody with a PhD in….pretty much anything. I have a few friends with PhDs. Not one of them calls herself ‘doctor’.]

    • Harry Purdie says:

      In the ‘West’, people with a PhD, do not use the word Doctor’ as a prefix to their name, but list their degrees after their name.

      [Daphne – In the West except in Italy, Harry, where everyone and his mother is an Inginiere or a Dottore. Insufferable.]

      I have a PhD in economics, but am Mr. Purdie. When I arrived in Malta, I found it amazing that most parliamentarians are ‘Doctors’.

      Even lawyers are not called ‘Doctors’ in the west.

      If one checks the list of Congressmen in the US, parliamentarians in Canada or the UK, no one is prefixed with ‘Doctor’ unless one is a physician or veterinarian, or a dentist.

      In Malta, I assume the prefix impresses the ignorant masses. However, it does not necessarily add to the productivity of the nation. (the term ‘productivity’ is often used in economic speak).

      Imagine this scenario: ‘Dr.’ Anglu, the Elephant Man, is on a flight to the US. A fellow passenger suffers a seizure, the flight attendant remembers that ‘Dr.’ Anglu has Doctor on his boarding card, she asks for help, Anglu panics and says ‘Dah, I’m not a real doctor. I’m just an incompetent politician’.

  46. Dee says:

    On Inkontri this evening, Joseph Muscat kept continually referring to himself as an economist.

  47. Ghoxrin punt says:

    Oh dear, if Joe Muscat equates a possible elementary knowledge of economics with being an economist we are really in the shit.

    This reminds me of the countless book-keepers or accounts clerks I have come across in my life who think that they are accountants..until they are asked to balance the books, that is.

  48. PV says:

    Oh my Oh my Daphne……kemm int chicken…..ghax ma thallix il comment kolla jigu jidhru fuq dil il-blog….jew qed teditjom, jin nahseb l erbgha t’ihbieb li taf kif jeditjaw il blog taf mux ghalxiex ma jhallux lilom infusom jisejhu Dr. COWARD

  49. Pecksniff says:

    Locally it has become the fashion that anybody who has worked at a bank in a managerial, supervisory, or even clerical position automatically becomes a “banker” and not a “bank manager/employee”. Here real “bankers” can be counted on the fingers of one hand while “bank employees” are now approaching 3000.
    Incidentally the”banker” appellation is the favourite amongst those who joined the local banks from id-Dirghajn jew Pijunieri the golden days of the early 70s.
    Even a professional qualification does not make you a banker. This is earned by your prowess in the field.

  50. oldtimer says:

    Labour want to impress voters with the number of DOKTORS on their books. Now, whether obtained by questionable means or otherwise, the important thing is that they are called DOKTOR so and so. Of course, their performance and way of speaking and writing, give the game away and nothing but BLUFF remains.

  51. IL-Boccu says:

    L-aktar giddieb perikoluz huwa dak li jinsab cert li dak li qed jghid huwa verita.

  52. Anna Maria Gatt says:

    The irony is Masters in EU studies in 1997 when his anti EU campaign was in full swing! Hawwadni forsi nifhem!

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