Poland’s central bank has already indicated that there is not much chance of it increasing record-low interest rates before mid-2014, and Friday’s unexpectedly low inflation readout will do little to change that assessment.
Initial public offerings, especially those tied to privatisations by Poland’s treasury ministry, have the reputation for being money spinners, but there is no such thing as a risk-free investment, as punters are learning on Wednesday on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The shares in Energa, the country’s third largest power distributor, sagged in the first hours of trading.
Energa launched on the WSE in a privatisation worth 2.4bn zlotys ($787m), the bourse’s largest IPO in two years.
Poland’s troubled Lot Polish Airlines is getting a helping hand from Boeing: the US aircraft manufacturer stuck an agreement with the carrier, which had complained about losses incurred after two of its 787 Dreamliner planes were pulled from service due to faulty batteries.
Poland’s parliament may have rushed through a dramatic change to the country’s pension system in only four days last week, but the revamped pension scheme still faces possible legal and constitutional challenges.
Poland became just the latest CEE country to take an axe to a pension system that became popular across the region a decade ago, but is being revamped or rejected because running costs have turned out to be significantly higher than predicted.
Poland has the EU’s best growth record in the last five years, but there is a growing awareness that keeping growth high is going to be increasingly difficult in the future – which is why two recent reports on corruption and educational achievements make such good news.
Central European manufacturing continues to show signs of strength in new purchasing managers index reports released on Monday, indicating that the region is rebounding from the slowdown it experienced late last year and in the first half of this year.
In Poland, the largest CEE economy, manufacturing came in at its strongest level in more than two years. The PMI index, where anything above 50 indicates expansion, was 54.4 in November, up from 53.4 in October.
The strong showing by Poland’s economy in the third quarter of this year includes encouraging news for Poland bulls: domestic demand is an increasingly important factor in an economy that has been largely sustained by export growth.
New details on the economy come from the government’s statists agency, which took a closer look at earlier released flash GDP numbers. Those showed the economy expanding by an annual 1.9 per cent in the third quarter, up from 0.8 per cent in the second quarter.
Cut the coal, please
Krakow was known for its choking smog in Communist times, when Poland’s medieval capital was bathed in the corrosive stench being pumped out by the nearby Lenin Steelworks.
Fast forward a quarter of a century, and Krakow’s air is still polluted – although the culprit is no longer the steel mill (now owned by Arcelor Mittal) but instead the thousands of people who still heat their homes with coal. The result has been some of the worst air in a still-smoggy country where coal generates about 90 per cent of Poland’s electricity. However, the local government in Krakow is now moving to ban home heating with coal over the next five years.
Poland is thinking of saving its national airline in the same way the Czechs have – by creating a holding company uniting the loss-making carrier with a more profitable airport and ground services operation.
Will it work?
If Poland had a public face over the last six years, it was that of Jacek Rostowski, the occasionally acerbic British-born finance minister who helped pilot Poland through two waves of economic crisis.
All change as of Wednesday, following the cabinet reshuffle by premier Donald Tusk which sees 62-year-old Rostowski replaced by 38-year-old Mateusz Szczurek (pictured), CEE economist for ING Bank of the Netherlands.
By Artur Gradziuk of the Polish Institute of International Affairs
Poland has a real image problem when it comes to climate change. Being on the defensive over more ambitious EU climate targets makes it hard for Warsaw to shift attention to aspects of its climate policy that it can be proud of.
One of these is decoupling. While Poland’s economic output doubled over the last 25 years, its greenhouse gas emissions did not increase. In fact,they shrank by more than 30 per cent. In theory, this kind of achievement should serve as an inspiration to other fast-developing countries.
Maybe it’s time to start preparing for a return wave of CEE migrants from western Europe, as Thursday’s flash GDP third quarter numbers show that most of the region’s economies are experiencing a sharp recovery – in contrast to stagnation in the eurozone.
If the normally bearish Capital Economics is starting to sing the economic praises of central Europe it might be time to admit that the downturn is well and truly done and that an economic rebound is underway.
Capital Economics was bearish about the future of the euro, and gloomy about the prospects of CEE countries closely tied to the eurozone. Now that the period of greatest danger for the common currency seems to have passed, the London-based analysis outfit is turning strikingly optimistic on central Europe.
A mixed picture for the prospects of an economic recovery emerging Europe, according to Monday’s forecast from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
The EBRD found that the more advanced countries of central Europe will probably do a bit better than expected next year, while the rest of the post-communist region is sputtering.
Poland has some of the worst roads and most dire traffic death statistics in the European Union – which is why a recent decision pressing Polish authorities to allow for the registration of right-hand-drive cars is causing consternation.
According to the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, Niilo Jaaskinen, advocate general of the European Court of Justice, said that Poland has been too restrictive in refusing to register cars from the UK and Ireland to drive on Polish roads. The European Commission filed a complaint against Poland over the issue in 2011.