Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Polish Economic Reform Twelve Years Later

"Poland's growth, although likely to be nearly 4% this year, is tailing off; unemployment, at 17.9%, is the highest in the EU. Among the under-25s it is a startling 39.5%. That, says Pawel Dobrowolski, a reform-minded economist, is because mismanagement has privileged insiders over outsiders and stifled competition, making the economy less liberal and less open than it was when communism collapsed. “Fifteen years ago, a bright multilingual graduate could expect to be a director of a company,” he says. “These days a bright multilingual graduate is happy to get a job in a salad bar.” ... Other countries, such as neighbouring Slovakia, have a cross-party consensus about the need to reform, involving simpler taxes, a better education system and eagerness to learn from abroad. Poland, by contrast, seems introverted and complacent, when its post-communist rivals are managing considerably faster growth rates. “The difference between 7% and 4% growth is the difference between catching up western Europe's standard of living in my lifetime, or my children's,” says one thoughtful Polish businessman. “We are the sleeping tiger of Europe, but it is time we woke up.”

"Too Content by Half" Economist.com August 4, 2005


I consulted for the U.S. Agency for International Development on
Poland's transition to a market-based economy in 1993-94.

Wilanow Palace, on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland,
is now undergoing its delayed restoration. We visited
this palace, and its gardens, during the first week of
this year.


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