Sunday, 14 August 2016

But a change of heart comes slow…

Taking note of my unchanged approach to Warsaw Uprising last week has motivated me to rediscover my pieces of writing from the early years of blogging. I have run PES for over seven years; despite several crises I have soldiered on, yet the period of most intense and inspiration-driven writing lasted for somewhat more than a year. Later on, since the summer of 2010 when I took up a full-time job, posts began to appear once a week and were far less often written on the spur of the moment. Over the first year of blogging I blurted out thoughts I most needed to share with the world, then I moved on and freshness went by… Now I genuinely miss those days when youngster’s zeal was filling me with energy and inspiration do the job I do not feel up to today.

The posts I’m revisiting today were written when I was 21 or 22 (vs. 28 today). One would claim I should have grown mature; should have undergone a process which involves reshaping one’s views on several matters. When I read my very first posts (from the first three or four months of blogging) I find them childish and clumsily written. After this formative period, my style seemed to have been brushed up on.

Time to find out how many times I have changed my mind. As I set off to take this journey, I safely bet my opinions have not evolved much.

The concept of shelving the public debt still sounds like a daydream. Deep down I agree with myself, yet the more rational parts of me reminds me the government to some extent functions like an enterprise for which there is an optimum level of debt below which borrowing is a cost-effective form of financing.

In 2009 media coverage was my once source of information on pathologies in retail banking in Poland. In 2016 it looks not more different. Today I could write more about the dark side of corporate banking, yet even though I am striving to withhold my identity I resist the temptation.

Five years after graduation, I hear from youngsters I know my university continues to be on decline. In international rankings SGH has been overtaken some time ago by Kozminski Academy, marking an imminent change in the higher education system in Poland where public universities have been superior to private poor and profit-oriented ones.

Returning to 2009 I can boast about being a critic of the bygone shape of pension system in Poland before Donald Tusk’s government decided to dismantle it. With hindsight, as the private-run pension fund business has been effectively pared down, I believe every word I wrote was justified and the two-stage (2011 and 2013/2014) crackdown on the pension funds was a move in the right direction.

My (modest) proposal of a flat-rate tax with a high allowance still sound appealing, yet I would slightly modify it by introducing a higher tax rate and a higher allowance and would add child allowances to it.

The purpose of that post was actually to mock at the late president Lech Kaczyński. In November 2009 no one thought in less than five months Mr Kaczyński would tragically die. Everyone thought his term would draw to a close in a year and he would be replaced by a candidate from PO entourage. Today when I observe conduct of Mr Duda I appreciate Lech Kaczyński was not that bad, particularly in comparison to the current “head of state”.

After the decease of general Jaruzelski in 2014 discussions on legitimacy and backdrop of declaring martial law in Poland in 1981 have somewhat faded. Still I argue the state of affairs in Poland was complicated at that time and I believe we will probably forever suffer from lack facts and documents helping historians fairly assess that decision.

My essay on dire effects of loose monetary policy was written after a year or so of pursuit of such policies by major central banks. From today’s perspective I still conceptually agree with my reasoning and could write the same again, yet I need to bear in mind ultra-loose monetary policies have been run for nearly eight years and unconventional tools have also been harnessed to keep economies afloat. Oddly enough, evils listed in paragraph (1) to (4) at the bottom of the post have not materialised or have materialised only to a marginal extent which should prompt me to rethink my approach.

In early 2010 I challenged the widespread theory the financial meltdown had been caused by greed, pointing out its major cause had been lack of fear. Today the theory still sounds alluring while I need to add another, definitely not mould-breaking, note. Economic actors will do whatever they are not prohibited from to pursue their goals. Therefore regulations and their proper enforcement are vital to prevent financial crises.

My critical look at various investment theories could today be enhanced by the experience of recent years. Theory of macroeconomics has been reshaped by unprecedented phenomena witnessed in post-crisis years (negative interest years, ultra-loose monetary policies fuelling no substantial asset bubbles, scrapping the paradigm of risk-free securities, etc.)

While my financial well-being has incomparably improved since 2010 I still think interns should be remunerated for their work. My approach is shared by an increasing number of employers who erased unpaid internships from their job openings as part of incorporating CSR agendas.

The take on Poland between 1945 and 1989 appears well-balanced. I find assertions that one occupier was swapped for another in 1945 out of place. Keeping in mind Poland was dependent on Soviet Union, its political system was far from democracy and its economic order was ineffective, between 1945 and 1989 warfare was generally not conducted on the territory on Poland, buildings and factories were erected rather than torn down, an ordinary man, as long as they kept their mouth shut, had no reason to be afraid of their life and the number of victims of 44 years of oppressive system was lower than of 6 years of Nazi occupation.

In July 2010 I had a heated post-Smolensk argument with Toyah and his fellows being on the other side of the political divide line. Today we stand where we stood then, while the end-justifies-the-means remains a motto of PiS and their advocates. I have to also boast here about my impeccable anti-PiS credentials. Never, ever, since I have been seriously interested in politics, i.e. since early 2005, have I ever been enchanted by PiS. In 2005, when PO was bound to win the parliamentary election by a tiny two of three percentage points and create coalition with PiS, I was not fond of vision of this right-wing coalition taking charge of Poland. I became the PO electorate after the party put itself in opposition to PiS and its social agenda drifted left.

The picture of today’s career-minded youngsters painted in this post is a piece of utter rubbish, I confess. Most young people I know strike work-life balance well and have no problems with relationships with people although I still feel sorry so few Michał’s friends turned up at his wedding. Having more important things to do than celebrating important moments in friends’ lives with them is still a plague with my peers.

In this post I foresaw the history will be rewritten sooner or later. Just recall that sentence: On Tuesday “Gazeta Polska” published an interview with Jarosław Kaczyński in which he envisages Lech Wałęsa will soon be discredited and after his name is dragged through the mud Lech Kaczyński will become a symbol of Solidarity. This is taking place, proving how determined politician Jarosław Kaczyński is.

Today, even more than then, I find current affairs in my life more important than politics. There are moments I feel sick, yet I am growing indifferent. On Thursday I returned frazzled from a two-day business trip and did not even feel like learning what the sentence of the Constitutional Tribunal on the new law governing the institution is (content was predictable) and what implications of it would be.

Today I no longer would write rants on linguistic competencies. Despite using English every day at work and making use of all four skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening), my use of English has been narrowed down to professional topics. I wonder when my fluency in English was at its height, but I am nearly confident that moment is behind me. Keeping up excellent command of non-native language if you do not live in the country where that language is widely used is a challenge indeed.

Next post in two weeks at best, in three weeks at worst. My family from Jelenia Góra are visiting the capital so I will be looking after them next weekend, while after they go home I will need to take care of another acquaintance coming over to Warsaw. Take care!


adthelad said...

I recently read these two articles,dlug-rosnie-ale-trzymajmy-sie-faktow

and so was prompted to visit your blog to see if you had any thoughts on the matter. I see shall have to wait :)
Best regards,

student SGH said...

Hi AdTheLad,
I'm back among the alive!

As the first commentator under Mr Dobrowolski's article rightly points out, one should distinguish between general government balance (takes into account the whole public sector) and central budget deficit. The number may vary and politicians have always been tempted to tamper with them. Recall minister Rostowski attempting to shift part of the expenditures to local governments to relieve the central budget. To stick with the facts let's not compare apples and oranges. Besides, worth looking at other comments and verify their correctness with official data of the Ministry of Finance to shape one's view on the matter.

Of course, debt should be compared to GDP, since future economic growth is the main debt service source (governments since decades have been meant to service, not repay their debts to keep the wheel spinning). GDP however is made up of components: consumption, investments, government spending and balance of foreign trade. I am wary that current growth relies too much on consumption than investments.

Mr Morawiecki once openly said 500plus allowance is debt-financed. I would rather advice him to follow Germany's example, this prudent country ran a 0.7% of GDP surplus in 2015 and since reduced its debt-to-GDP ratio from by 10 percentage points to 71%.

Besides, po owocach ich poznacie. Without a thorough analysis of the budget draft, I can say little about feasibility. If the deficit at the end of 2017 turns out as planned or lower, I may have some thoughts.

Best of luck,
Student SGH