After four years of frenzied law making, Orban – or his right-hand men – immediately continued with controversial and confrontational policies, for example alleging that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) critical of the government were agents of foreign powers, making warm approaches to Russia and the east while denigrating the “failing” West, and embroiling Hungary in a diplomatic row with the US. Most infamously, in July Orban publicly enthused on the effectiveness of “illiberal” democracies, citing Russia, China, Turkey and Singapore as examples for Hungary to follow.
How and why has Orban done all this? Where does it leave Hungary, politically, socially and economically? And what of the country's future? Gabor Gyori as author, and Andras Biro-Nagy as editor attempt to answer such questions in "Hungarian Politics in 2014" – an 80-page booklet just published on January 23 with the assistance of Friedrich Erbert Stiftung.
The above is an extract of a review by Business New Europe saying that "it offers a grand critique of – and insight into – Fidesz's most controversial policies since elected in 2010". The book can be downloaded by our members here.
The Embassy of Hungary in Stockholm has just informed us that they have launched a new Facebook page. The page is aimed to be an interactive, up-to-date, informative and prompt communication channel between the people of Hungary and Sweden or anyone else who is interested in the bilateral relations of the two countries. Follow Hungary on Facebook here.
Remember that great scene from the movie
Crocodile Dundee when some inept mugger tries to pull a knife on the outback
hero in New York? “That’s not a knife. That’s a knife.” It might just be the most quoted movie line from
In Forbes magazine they apply that movie line to
the economic comparison of Hungary’s recovery relative to Spain’s as quoted by
Renaissance Capital saying, ”Spain is getting a fair amount of positive press
for its revival despite somewhat moribund numbers; Hungary’s, is on a whole
other scale. That’s not a recovery. That’s a recovery”.
The discussion, implying a Hungarian Crocodile
Dundee effect, can be read in detail here. It should, however, be compared to
what the Hungarian´s own economic research institute GKI is saying about the
economic situation and outlook. And as Renaissance Capital also is quoted to say in the Forbes article: “It may be as difficult to profit from Hungary’s recovery, as it was to profit from mugging an Australian tourist in New York in 1986.” Anyone with a comment on that?
Friday 31 January will be
an Hungarian day at the Royal Technology Institute (KTH) in Stockholm as Hungarian officials and
high tech companies will present what they can offer their Swedish counterparts and
investors. The seminar will be opened
by KTH president Peter Gudmundsson to be followed by an introduction to
KTH:s innovation system by Professor Ramon Wyss, Vice President, International Affairs at KTH. During the rest of the seminar Hungarian innovators,
education system and business cases will be presented to the audience. Several Hungarian
start ups will introduce their activities. On the agenda is also a
presentation of Ericsson in Hungary. Members of the Chamber of
Commerce can download the agenda and invitation here.
"In Hungary recession has come to an end in statistical terms", writes the Hungarian GKI Economic Research Institute in its forecast for 2013. However, there are no genuine changes, as investments and consumption continued to decline compared with the previous quarter, and only exports (and, to a larger extent, imports) increased. Data showing unfavourable performance of industry, foreign trade and retail trade in the first quarter of 2013 improved slightly in April. The banking system is in "survival mode". In the first four months employment at companies employing more than five persons and in the public sector declined by 0.7 per cent. However, CSO surveys show that the proportion of those doing some kind of work increased by 1 per cent. Read the full report here.
Five companies have said they will no longer place advertising in a Hungarian newspaper that published extreme anti-Roma statements. The withdrawal follows a campaign by 24 NGOs, who contacted 15 companies that advertise with Magyar Hírlap, a right-wing Hungarian daily newspaper. The NGOs asked the companies to consider suspending their advertising activities in the newspaper until it distances itself from the racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views expressed by Zsolt Bayer, who compared Roma to ‘animals’ and called for a solution, saying “This must be dealt with – immediately, and by any means necessary”. Read more here.
The second Orban government brings serious hardship and disappointment to the Hungarian economy and society. There were hopes in 2010 concerning growing welfare, massive creation of new jobs, boosting economy, the reduction of the tax burden, the creation of a more liveable and more business-friendly country, and modernizing public services. None of these hopes have been fulfilled, writes the Hungarian GKI Economic Research Institute in a revealing report about the state of the Hungarian economy, subtitled "A blueprint of the government´s actions for the 2014-2018 period". This comprehensive report, containing suggestions how the government could get the country on track again in critical areas, can be downloaded here by our members.
Recession continues uninterrupted in Hungary as GKI Economic Research Co. reports. Only stagnation can be expected next year. Domestic demand continues to fall. The agreement with the IMF and the EU is more and more unlikely to materialize and this makes the financing of Hungary more expensive and riskier. As a result, in 2013 the Hungarian economy continues to lag behind its regional competitors.
So here is the new somewhat unorthodox idea the Hungarian government is proposing to fight recession according to this news flash from Reuters today.
Proposed legislation listed on parliament's website would grant permanent residency and ultimately Hungarian citizenship to outsiders who buy at least 250,000 euros worth of special government bonds.
The move, backed by the ruling government party, is designed to attract new investors, especially from China. The proposal could entitle the new bondowners, being Hungarian passport holders, to live and work throughout the European Union. Read the whole Reuters news here.
According to many oppinions the Hungarian government is on collision course with the rest of the world. EU has demanded prime minister Viktor Orbán to withdraw a number of laws which are threatening to give Orban´s own Fidesz party too big power over the Hungarian society. The European council has stated even sharper criticism against new laws for media and justice. The IMF has opposed the proposal for control of the national bank and USA´s secretary of foreign affairs, Hillary Clinton, has written an open letter to PM Orbán and expressed her worries over what´s happening in Hungary. Is Hungary on it´s way towards an authoritarian government? Listen
to what the Minister of media communication, Zoltan Kovács, has to say about these accusations in an interview (in English) with Tomas Ramberg in the swedish Radio today.
In the picture: Zoltán Kovác, Hungarian Minister of Media Communication
EU finance ministers on Tuesday approved a controversial funding freeze on Hungary under the bloc's new deficit rules, but some countries, led by Austria, say it was a bit harsh after Spain obtained concessions. Austria, backed by Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic said the decision to freeze €495 million of EU aid for Hungary's infrastructure projects should be delayed from 1 Januay 2013 until June to give it more time to fix its deficit. Hungary also over the past year has caused a stink in Brussels over laws back home that curb free press and the independence of the central bank and judiciary. Read more of this article by EUobserver.com here.
...while bankruptcy among businesses are increasing.
The number of bankrupt businesses will slightly rise this year as well, following an all-time high of last year, as reported by Hangary´s GKI Economic Research Co. A particularly strong wave of bankruptcies in trade and in vehicle trade is expected, as well as in agriculture and in collective services. Read more in the report here.
We hear about a new way of using the Ipad and other pads every day. But this is a first. Hungary´s Jozef Szajer (in the picture) leading party´s lawmaker in the European parliament, is now using the device to draft Hungary´s new constitution. “The best is I don’t have to wait for minutes to turn it on, like with a normal laptop. I can open it anywhere and can take advantage of every minute", says Szajer to Bloombergnews agency. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban set an April deadline to approve the constitution, so Mr Szajer sure need the speed of the Ipad. The question is whether the opposition and other critics about the government´s nationalistic approach will be impressed of what´s coming out of the Ipad when Mr Szajer is ready with his work. In any case this will surely not be the last "Magna Charta" to be written on the new smart devices. "Constitution Assist Pro" - an app soon to come in a mobile near you.
Hungarian vehicle and part maker Raba has made announcements which have raised company share prices significantly. First, the company has signed a new contract with Scania. Raba has been a supplier to the Swedish truck maker of running gears since 2007 and the partnership will now be expanded. Raba has also invested HUF 96 million into the development of new defense applications for armored troop transporter vehicles - the company is a major supplier to the Hungarian army. The new H14 army truck will be bullet- shell- and mine-proof, and will surpass NATO standards. (ITD Hungary).
Det blir ingen ekonomisk åtstramning i Ungern. Istället pluggar premiärminister Viktor Orbán budgethålen genom en tidsbegränsad "krisskatt" på banker, telekommunikation, energi och detaljhandel, en skatt som till stor del drabbar utländska företag. Detta sänder negativa signaler om regeringens attityd till utländska investeringar, som är avgörande för Ungern, skriver IMF kritiskt och varnar samtidigt för att extraskatterna kommer att skjutas över till konsumenterna genom prishöjningar. (DN 21 dec).
KOLONTAR, Hungary – The toxic red sludge that burst out of a Hungarian factory's reservoir and inundated three villages reached the mighty Danube on Thursday after wreaking havoc on smaller rivers and creeks, an emergency official said. The European Union and environmental officials had feared an environmental catastrophe affecting half a dozen nations if the red sludge, a waste product of making aluminum, contaminated the Danube, Europe's second-longest river. Officials from several nations downstream — Croatia, Serbia and Romania — were testing the river every few hours Thursday but hoping that the Danube's huge water volume would blunt the impact of the spill. The reservoir break Monday disgorged a toxic torrent into creeks that flow into waterways connected to the Danube. Creeks in Kolontar, the western Hungarian village closest to the spill site, were swollen ochre red days later and villagers said they were devoid of fish. Kolontar is 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of the Danube. The red sludge reached the western branch of the Danube early Thursday and its broad, main stretch by noon, Hungarian rescue agency spokesman Tibor Dobson told the state MTI news agency. Read more in these articles from Yahoo News here and BBC here.
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Tue, June 29, 2010 23:20:54 One of the first election promises Hungary’s governing center-right Fidesz party wants to fulfill is to allow people to distill their own palinka, Hungary’s national alcoholic beverage. Alcohol distillation has so far been heavily regulated and taxed in Hungary, allowing production only at licensed distilleries. Black-market production and sales of palinka were widespread in the Hungarian countryside, and town folks treasure the home-made drink produced there. The new rules allowing home-made palinka are part of the economic overhaul announced by Prime Minister Viktor Orban that includes efforts to cut red tape. Up to 86 liters a year of palinka distilled at home will be exempt from the excise tax. The drink will only allowed for consumption at home or in countryside guesthouses. The legislation may put Hungary on a collision course with Brussels as the European Union strictly controls the production alcoholic beverages, Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag wrote, adding that total liberalization will be impossible. (Wall Street Journal June 24)
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Wed, June 09, 2010 15:58:26 Hungary has been at center stage during the last days, following the astonishing comments by some Hungarian officials - Hungary “has only a slim chance of avoiding a Greek-style scenario”, “default talk is not an exaggeration". These comments triggered a sell-off not only of Hungarian assets but they also had an impact on a global level. During the last weekend the tone of the Hungarian government changed, as officials claimed that previous statements were “unfortunate” and “exaggerated”. The government reiterated its commitment to maintain the deficit/GDP ratio agreed with the IMF and EU (lower than 4% this year). Bank Austria has analyzed the new situation that has arisen in Hungary and presents its oppinions of the outcome in a report that our members can download here.
Hungary's government has moved to minimise the effect of comments by officials that the country faced a Greek-style crisis. "The comments that have been made about this issue are exaggerated," said prime ministerial spokesman Mihaly Varga. The Hungarian currency dropped 6% against the euro after government officials compared the country's fiscal position with Greece late last week. The forint has since stabilised at about 288 to the euro. Mr Varga added that a target budget deficit for 2010 of 3.8% of GDP, set by the International Monetary Fund, was still "achievable". This is despite last week's government estimate that the deficit could hit over 7%. "It seems that the comments were geared towards preparing the populace for the fact that... the government will need to backtrack on its election promises," said Marc Balston, strategist at Deutsche Bank.
For its part, the IMF does not consider the situation in Hungary to be too worrying. "There seems to be no particular element of concern," the fund's head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said. His comment was echoed by Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker: "I do not see any problem at all with Hungary. I only see the problem that politicians from Hungary talk too much." Read the whole BBC-article here.
Risken är överhängande att Europas krisande Piigs-länder får en ny klubbmedlem skriver Dagens Industri idag. Ungerns beräknade budgetunderskott är betydligt större än vad man tidigare trott. Oro för att Ungern blir nästa land på randen till konkurs skickar kalla kårar över Europa. Över en natt har landets beräknade budgetunderskott fördubblats, enligt regeringen i Budapest. Uttalandet kom på torsdagen från andremannen för Ungerns regeringsparti Fidesz, Lajos Kosa. Han tillade att statsfinanserna var i mycket sämre skick än vad någon tidigare räknat med.
Ungerns valuta Forint föll brant på den nervösa marknaden och kostnaden för långivare att försäkra sig mot en ungersk bankrutt, så kallade CDS-kontrakt, rusade i höjden. Även euron tog stryk under torsdagseftermiddagen när skräcken spreds för att budgetkrisen på allvar satt tänderna i ännu ett EU-land.EU-kommissionens ordförande Manuel Barroso uppmanade samtidigt Ungern att snabba på sina budgetnedskärningar.
Ungerns ekonomi tog aldrig riktigt fart som flera av de östeuropeiska grannarna under högkonjunkturen. 2008 styrde landen undan en valutakollaps med hjälp av akutlån från EU och IMF och BNP har krympt mer för varje kvartal i två år. Men analytiker tolkar regeringens utspel som ett politiskt spel för att vinna hemmaopinionens stöd för nödvändiga reformer. De betraktar jämförelserna med Grekland som överdrivna, rapporterar Reuters.
Den sittande center-högerregeringen kom till makten så sent som i april, på vallöften om att Ungern ska stimulera sig ur krisen med skattesänkningar. Men på torsdagen kom en obehaglig överraskning. Landets budgetunderskott är dubbelt så stort som tidigare beräknat, med minus 7 till 7,5 procent av BNP i stället för 3,8 procent, enligt regeringen. Regeringen meddelar att den snabbt måste byta fot till besparingar i stället för stimulanser.
Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom presented letters of appointment to the members of Viktor Orban's new centre-right government in Sandor Palace, Budapest, at 1pm on Saturday. These are the names of the ministers. Click here for more information about each one. Viktor Orban, Prime Minister Sandor Pinter, Minister for Home Affairs Csaba Hende , Minister for National Defence Tibor Navracsics , Minister of Administration and Justice, also Deputy Prime Minister Janos Martonyi , Minister of Foreign Affairs György Matolcsy , Minsiter of National Economy Miklos Rethelyi, Minister of Human Resourses Tamas Fellegi , Minister for National Developments Sandor Fazekas , Minister for Development of the Country Side Zsolt Semjen, Minister without Portfolio
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Wed, May 26, 2010 20:31:43 En ny lag som ger etniska ungrare utanför Ungern rätt till medborgarskap väcker ilska i grannlandet Slovakien. Den slovakiske premiärministern kallar beslutet för ett hot mot landets säkerhet och Slovakien är redo att slå tillbaka. Det handlar om var tionde invånare i Slovakien, som från och med nästa år kommer kunna få ungerskt medborgarskap och pass. I Slovakien har den nya lagen som det ungerska parlamentet i dag antog väckt stor irritation. Läs mer i Sveriges radios reportage här.
From our colleagues in Swedish Chamber of Commerce, Budapest: Skanska is preparing for a new office building that will be named Green House, in Budapest’s 13th district. The building will be constructed in line with Skanska's strict environmental principles and aims to be certified in accordance with LEED. The project start is planned to late 2010 and Green House is expected to be ready for tenants during the first half of 2012, though leases start to be granted this year. Read more here.
Inför kommande söndags andra valomgång vänds Europas blickar mot Ungern. Skall nationalisterna Fidesz, med eller utan hjälp av postfascisterna i Jobbik, få så stor majoritet att de oinskränkt kan styra landet, ändra i konstitutionen, skaffa sig inflytande i viktiga institutioner etc? Denna fråga ställer sig många i omgivande europeiska länder och runt om i världen idag. Många media spekulerar kring dessa frågor. Här är två artiklar, klicka på rubriken för att läsa hela artikeln.
Under rubriken "Ungerns väg mot hatet" skriver DN bl a "I och med föreliggande valresultat har Ungern blivit ett unikt land i Europa."
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sun, April 04, 2010 22:05:08 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) may extend loans to Hungary which total EUR 300-400 million this year. The loans will be granted to finance renewable energy projects and the upgrading of district heating - Hungarian daily Napi Gazdasg wrote on Wednesday. According to the daily paper, the government hopes to be able to refinance the loans of M�V (the state-owned railway company) using the funds from the EBRD. Nevertheless, in exchange for the loans the EBRD could very well expect from the government that it reorganizes M�V
I Budapest inleds nu den heta fasen i den ungerska valrörelsen när samtliga stora partier håller massmöten. På frammarsch är nationalistpartiet Jobbik som i de senaste mätningarna får 17 procent av rösterna,nästan lika mycket som det regerande socialdemokratiska partiet MSZP. På den ungerska nationaldagen den 15 mars som erinrar om 1948 års revolution och upproret mot Österrike flammar det i Budapest regelbundet upp hätska strider mellan de olika partiernas anhängare. För fyra år sedan bröt kravaller och gatustrider ut i anslutning till Jobbiks manifestation. Hårt omstridd i Ungern är framför allt Jobbiks paramilitära grupp Magyar Garda, det ungerska gardet, som grundades 2007. Medlemmarna bär svarta uniformer och marscherar gärna genom områden där många romer bor. ”En av de största utmaningarna är zigenarkriminaliteten i Ungern som det gäller att stoppa genom att stärka polisen och skapa en ny poliskår på landsbygden”, kräver Jobbik i sitt valmanifest. Jobbik vill ävense över fördraget om EU-medlemskapet som beskrivs som orättvist, precis som utlandslånen som enligt Jobbik bör omförhandlas. Utrikeshandeln ska åter orientera sig mot marknaderna i öst. Landsbygden ska stärkas och befolkningen uppmanas att köpa ungerska produkter. Utlänningar ska inte heller när nuvarande övergångsregler löper ut få köpa jordbruksmark. Budskapet går hem bland många av dem som har drabbats av den ungerska krisen och svångremspaketen som infördes från och med 2006 under dåvarande regeringschefen Ferenc Gyurcsany. I de fattiga regionerna i nordöstra Ungern, där arbetslösheten är långt högre än det nationella genomsnittet på drygt 10 procent, har Jobbik redan gått om socialdemokraterna och är nu näst största parti. Parlamentsvalet i Ungern hålls i två omgångar, den 11 och 25 april. I den första etappen slås alla kandidater ut som får mindre än 15 procent av rösterna. I den avgörande valomgången två veckor senare väntas det högerliberala partiet Fidesz kamma hem en dunderseger. De senaste siffrorna pekar på ett väljarstöd kring 57 procent för Fidesz och den färgstarke partiledaren Viktor Orban som med stor sannolikhet blir Ungerns näste regeringschef. Socialdemokraterna som har suttit vid makten sedan 2002 har drivit en omstridd sparpolitik som marknaderna tvingade på Ungern efter år av snabbt växande statsskulder. 2008 fick Ungern som första EU-land be till Internationella valutafonden om stöd. Ferenc Gyurcsany tvingades avgå i mars 2008 efter växande kritik mot åtstramningarna. I september 2006 sändes i den ungerska radion ett bandat tal till partimedlemmarna i vilket Gyurcsany medgav att ”vi har ljugit väjarna rakt upp i ansiktet de senaste åren”. (SvD 15 mars)
"I´m coming with a clean T-shirt with the sign, ‘I have been there'", said Hungary´s PM, Bajnai to his colleage Mr Papandreou, when they met last week. Meaning he had some experience from dealing with economic crisis to share with the Greek. George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager who was born in Hungary, agrees that Hungary’s effort should serve as example for Greece, as well as Portugal and Spain. (BBC 19th Feb).
Hungary has been through what Greece is facing now with structural measures and the need to bring its fiscal house in order to regain credibility. Comparisons are easy to make then, even misleading ones that some analysts have, and this is what the Hungarian Minister of Finance Peter Oszko is warning against in his blog entry here.
Tens of thousands of Hungarians will flock Feb. 18 to local restaurants, cafes and other eateries to eat out on Gluttonous Thursday, following Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day Lent period preceding Easter, and Magyar Turizmus Zrt. claims going out on that day is a folk custom before the fasting ahead of Easter. Eateries participating in the Gluttonous Thursday offer their fare 50% off their regular price, drinks included! Last year, some 230,000 guests turned up on Gluttonous Thursday at some 1,300 participating restaurants. Jó étvágyat
"We don't need IMF money any more and my expectation is that since Hungary is targeting the same track for the future, we won't need financial help," said Finance Minister Péter Oszkó to the Financial Times in an interview. After the EUR 20 billion IMF-led standby loan became available from November 2008 in a few tranches, IMF reviewed several times the progression of the crisis management program. The program was implemented by the technocratic government of PM Gordon Bajnai, who stressed several times that the country's intention is to substitute the loan with self-financing ability. Thanks to the austerity measures and the reform since the service of the budgetary stability CDS indices improved rapidly and by the summer 2009 Hungary managed to issue the first foreign currency-denominated state bonds worth HUF 17 billion. PM Bajnai has declared at the Central and Eastern European Forum organized by Euromoney in Vienna that in order to guarantee the country's economic line up, Hungary must perform bigger growth than Europe. According to the experts, the growth could reach 4 pct by 2012 but that requires the next government to stick to the economic plans acknowledged by the international community.
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sun, December 20, 2009 18:54:32 In the major part of the world economy recession was over in the third quarter of 2009 in technical terms. In Hungary recession is expected to come to an end only in the fourth quarter. Recovery could be quicker than expected, although setbacks cannot be excluded either, and the former level of GDP could be reached globally only in 2011-2012. In 2010 modest growth is expected in the EU and stagnation in Hungary. Confidence in the Hungarian economy that had been destroyed formerly has been on the rise. Economic trends are basically in line with the projections of GKI prepared in September 2009. In 2009 the contraction of GDP is expected to total 2.5 per cent in the US, 4 per cent in the EU and 6.5 per cent in Hungary. In 2009 Hungary shall not have to rely on net external financing sources since it will use the loans received earlier for the increase of international reserves or the repayment of former borrowings. Hungarian economic policy fended off successfully the major threats of the global turmoil: the exchange rate and the liquidity crisis. It undertook a significant correction in order to restore external and internal equilibria mainly by sharp cuts in general government expenditures, to a lesser extent by introducing systemic changes and restructurings in pensions, social services and the tax system. Undertakings and households reduced their demand for credits, their consumption and investments. Read more of the whole GKI-forecast here.
Hungary's economy is likely past the low-point of the recession, economic think tank GKI said in its latest report, prepared with Erste Bank.
The economy will probably show minimal quarter-on-quarter growth in Q4, GKI said. Growth in a year-on-year comparison is not expected until the second half of 2010. GKI projects Hungary's economy will contract by 6-7pc in 2009 and stagnate in 2010. The forecast compares to official projections for a 6.7pc contraction this year and a 0.9pc drop in 2010.
In the industrial sector, only the mining segment and some manufacturing segments have shown growth. Although domestic sales of the drug industry and food exports have increased. Farm sector output will plunge in 2009 as the cereals crop, excluding maize, dropped about 25pc due to unfavourable wheather. Hungary's unemployment rate reached 10.3pc in July-September, and could rise further to 11pc by the end of the year. The rate is not seen falling until Q2 2010.
GKI projects real wages will fall 4-5pc in 2009 because of the rise in unemployment, a freeze of family subsidies and the elimination of pensioners' annual bonus. Real wages are likely to stay unchanged in 2010. The researchers expect Hungary to deliver the 3.9pc-of-GDP fiscal deficit target this year, and the 3.9pc ratio for 2010, noting that a significantly higher deficit would unlikely be tolerated by global markets.
Hungary's next government could consolidate the debt of state-owned companies, as was the practice in earlier election years, GKI said. If the operation of the companies is reformed, global markets could accept the move, it added.
The 1989 revolution has its unforgettable images, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, and its famous figures - Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and Mikhail Gorbachev.
But the man who made a crucial first breach in the Iron Curtain which divided Cold War Europe has received far less attention in the West.
He is Miklos Nemeth, an economist who became Hungarian prime minister in November 1988 and proceeded to tear up the rule book for leaders of communist bloc countries.
His assault on the Iron Curtain began, strangely enough, as he considered his country's budget for 1989.
He spotted a mysteriously large sum listed under interior ministry spending. When he was told it was in fact for renewing the barbed wire on the border between Hungary in the Cold War "East", and Austria in the "West", he "erased it immediately", he recalls. Read the full BBC-article here.
Hungary is planning a law that would tax poker winnings and regulate clubs. With the country facing its worst economic crisis since the end of communism, the government is eager to cash in on this popular pastime. Read the whole story here.
According to the forecast of GKI Economic Research Co. prepared in co-operation with Erste Bank, the Hungarian economy hit bottom of recession as of Autumn 2009, and slight growth is expected in the fourth quarter. 2009 will see a 6-7 per cent drop of GDP and stagnation is expected in 2010.
External disequilibria are improving markedly, and internal ones are likely to be in line with international requirements. In 2009 Hungary will not need net external financing (because the loans taken will be used either to lift foreign exchange reserves or to repay loans borrowed earlier). Hungary's net external debt is set to decrease markedly in 2010. The general government deficit relative to GDP compares favourably with European countries already this year and next year it may prove to be one of the lowest ones.
In 2010 the development of the Hungarian economy depends mostly on the evolution of the global crisis, consolidation and recovery trends. Certainly, the economy is and will be influenced by the economic policy of the present government aiming at reducing deficits and enhancing credibility, as well as by the so far unknown economic policy of the new one to be inaugurated after the parliamentary elections. Since money markets signalled that foreign investors expect declining public foreign debt ratios and thus they are willing to finance limited deficits, there will not be much room of manoeuvring for another sustainable economic policy as far as the main macroeconomic trends are concerned, whereas the new government will have endless opportunities to change the details. Read more here.
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Thu, October 08, 2009 11:57:08 In September, the value of GKI's economic sentiment index adjusted for seasonal effects has already been improving for five months. According to the survey conducted by GKI Economic Research Co. (www.gki.hu) with the support of the European Union, expectations exceeded slightly the level of last November. In the business sphere expectations improved only in the service sector compared to the level of August, although this increase was significant.
The confidence index of industry stagnated after a five-months improvement and the value of this is index remained at the level of August. The evaluation of the production of the past three months increased whereas expectations concerning production for the next three months improved only slightly. The assessment of the stock of orders remained unchanged, among this export orders increased, but the assessment of stocks of own production increased. In construction the confidence index dropped slightly in September after its three-months increase. The assessment of production concerning the past three months improved somewhat, whereas opinions on both the stock of orders and intentions to employ deteriorated. The confidence index of trade has fluctuated strongly from the beginning of this year and it fell again in September after the significant increase in August. The assessment of sales positions and expected orders deteriorated most, whereas opinions on stocks and intent ions to employ improved.
The pessimism of the companies in services decreased slightly in September, mainly concerning employment and the expected turnover on the short-term. The assessment of the state of business deteriorated compared with the previous month.
In industry firms still expected stagnation in prices, whereas in construction and services those expecting a price reduction were still in majority. In trade firms expectations on the average price rise in the next three months increased in June -because of the lift of VAT rates - after the low level recorded early this year but it decreased slightly in July and then dropped markedly in August and September. Pessimism to employ eased notably in all sectors except for construction, meanwhile fear from unemployment decreased among households. The prospects of the Hungarian economy improved markedly in both the business sphere and among households.
Expectations of consumers have continued to improve from month to month since May. In addition to the decreasing fear from unemployment and inflation the opinion about their own financial position also turned better.
According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung there are rumours that the Canadian-Austrian Magna taking over the management of Opel would like to move the motor and gear system production to Szenttgothard, Hungary, the earlier location of Opel manufacturing. The company intends to move its plant from Rüsselsheim and reduce its expenses on labor all across Europe. Hungary has already attracted major vehicle manufacturers like Daimler, Audi and Knorr-Bremse thanks to low labor costs, high engineering expertise and skilled labor.
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sun, September 20, 2009 13:24:05 Hungary's government on Wednesday endorsed the 2010 budget bill which provides for a deficit target of 3.8pc of GDP. Talking at a press conference held about the budget bill, Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said it was strict and frugal but contained extra financing in a few areas. Due to the effects of the global economic crisis, Hungary was limited to a "narrow field" where the economy would contract by 7.5p cin 2009 and 2010 while the budget shortfall must be kept below 3.8pc of GDP next year, requiring restraint in spending. Next year's budget, however, contains tax cuts and, if the right conditions prevail, reduced tax for heat used used by district heating distributors, he said. Read more about the budget here. (Source: ITD Hungary)
As of 1 January 2010 Hungary will be obliged to implement through the Hungarian VAT legislation the EU VAT package (that is, Regulations (EC) No. 8/2008 and No. 9/2008). The latest Newsletter of PriceWaterhouseCoopers is dealing with the legal implications. Read more here. (Source: ITD Hungary).
According to an article in Dagens Nyheter today, the foreign ministers of the two EU members Hungary and Slovakia have asked their Swedish colleague Mr Bildt to help them solve the conflict. The request is said to have been forwarded to Mr Bildt at an informal meeting during the EU-minister meeting in Stockholm last weekend. The conflict, which originates from "aggressive nationalistic" allegations from both sides, was described by the Hungarian foreign minister as "an unprecedented conflict between two EU-countries".
En ny slovakisk språklag får spänningen att stiga mellan EU-grannarna Ungern och Slovakien. Etniska ungrare demonstrerar i Slovakien mot lagen, som kan ge böter för den som talar ungerska. Och Ungerns presidents har hindrats från att komma in i grannlandet. Läs mer här. (DN 3 sept)
The value of GKI's economic sentiment index adjusted for seasonal effects improved further in August and thus the index has been increasing since May. According to the survey conducted by GKI Economic Research Co. (www.gki.hu) with the support of the European Union, expectations exceeded slightly the level of last November. Expectations improved markedly in August though they remained still rather pessimistic, especially among households.
In the business sphere expectations improved in all industries. The confidence index of industry has improved for the fifth consecutive month and the value of this is index was significantly higher this August than it had been last November. The evaluation of the production of the past three months and the expectations concerning production for the next three months both improved. Read more here.
20 years ago, in August 1989. The end of a dark era. The beginning of a new Europe. And it all started with the "Pan-European picnic" in the fields outside Sopron on the Hungarian - Austrian border. The rest is history as they say.
Deutsche Welle, June 27. Heads of state and government of over a dozen European nations including Germany, Austria, Finland, Slovenia and Switzerland, as well as top officials from Poland and Britain, were among dignitaries from more than 20 countries joining a commemorative session at the Hungarian parliament. German President Horst Koehler thanked Hungarians for their solidarity with the East Germans and their contributions to German unity. On June 27, exactly two decades ago, then Hungarian foreign minister Gyula Horn and his Austrian counterpart Alois Mock symbolically cut some barbed wire representing the Iron Curtain on the border separating their two countries.
HungaryPosted by Chambers of Commerce Sweden - Southeast Europe Sun, June 14, 2009 09:41:05 Internationella valutafonden (IMF) och EU-kommissionen har gått med på att låta Ungerns budgetunderskott uppgå till 3,9 procent av bruttonationalprodukten (BNP) i år. Det är en sämre BNP-utveckling än väntat som har tvingat fram justerade lånevillkor. Läs mer här.
The value of GKI's economic sentiment index adjusted for seasonal effects that had been decreasing for nine months-of which the last six months was a heavy fall-remained unchanged in April. According to the survey conducted by GKI Economic Research Co. (www.gki.hu) with the support of the European Union, expectations of consumers became worse but those of the business sphere improved although rather slightly. Improvement in business expectations was the result of the increase in industry and trade confidence indices whereas pessimism in construction and services gained momentum.
In April the confidence index of industry improved slightly for the first time since May 2008. In this improvement the better assessment of the stock of orders and past production played the major role, whereas stocks decreased as well. Nevertheless, the evaluation of future production and export orders deteriorated. Intentions concerning employment were less pessimistic this month.
In construction the confidence index continued to fall in April although the decrease was rather modest. The assessment of production concerning the past three months deteriorated significantly, opinions on stock of orders decreased only slightly whereas intentions to reduce employment picked up somewhat.
In trade the confidence index increased slightly in April, both the expectations concerning sales positions and the assessment of the stock of orders improved. The confidence index of the service sector continued to drop that was mainly the result of falling intentions to employ. Opinions on sales for the near future improved a bit, whereas the assessment of the state of the business stagnated.
In industry and construction expectations of price reductions got stronger but firms in trade as well as consumers expect higher prices. The evaluation of the prospects of the Hungarian economy deteriorated further in construction and among consumers but after a long time it set to improve slightly in industry, trade and services, although compared to a very low base.
GKI's consumer confidence index has been decreasing from month to month since the sharp fall recorded in autumn 2008. The decrease has been in line with EU trends. Fear from unemployment got notably stronger compared to March. The assessment of households concerning their own present and future financial position continued to fall. Present and one-year plans concerning the purchase of high value durables deteriorated, too. (GKI Newsletter April 29)