Hungary is the intercontinental turntable

At least according to György Matolcsy who in a great hurry, setting aside all other important tasks, put together a 177-page plan for the country’s economic growth. The material is open for discussion on the Internet on the website of the Ministry of National Economy (Nemzetgazdasági Minisztérium or NGM). Tamás Mellár, who is not considered to be a “liberal” economist, just a good one, called the plan no more than a “parade of brain-waves.” He added that this document is practically useless because neither the goals nor the steps to achieve them are spelled out. Attila Juhász, a political scientist with some economics background, said that the plan from the point of view of economics is without value. Népszava called it a collection of wishful thinking and fantastical notions.

There are parts of the document which simply make the reader laugh out loud. At least that is what I did when I read that Hungary “should be moved in space and in time close to the northern-western center.” That will be quite a feat. However, while this ambitious government would move Hungary farther to the west, in another passage one reads that Hungary will be “the eastern gate of the new economic silk road.” So, it seems that Matolcsy and crew can’t even decide on Hungary’s place on the map and in the world economy.

And as we go farther the plan gets stranger and stranger. Hungary will be the eastern gate to Bavaria, Baden-Würtenberg, and Lombardy and at the same time it will be part of ” the new northern-southern ivy road.” Well, I have never heard of an “ivy road” but since according to Matolcsy this is new I guess I don’t have to feel too bad. In fact, it is very possible that the whole “ivy road” exists only in his head. In addition, Hungary is also part of the Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest axis. In brief, Hungary will be the center of the universe because “it will be here that the economic and transfigurational turntable will be able to transform and mediate between Europe’s zones capable of renewal in the next decades.”

And here it is:

Well, at this point I suddenly remembered László Grespik, a right-wing nut of a lawyer who came out with all sorts of ridiculous ideas. It was in the early 2000s that he received a high-powered job from the first Orbán government. His most interesting discovery was that ordinary people’s DNA has three “twists” but Hungarians and the Japanese have nine!!! Anyone who’s interested in Grespik’s other similarly “revolutionary” ideas must read more about him.

This “turntable” eventually gets a name. It is called the East European Banana and naturally Hungary is smack dab in the middle of it. Where else, indeed.

 

As for economic growth, in the document there is not one number that would indicate what kind of growth we are talking about in the next few years. Not a word about whether next year’s budget will still be based on an economic growth originally planned at 1.5% or whether further changes might be expected.

Without any specifics Matolcsy talks about “a forceful opening toward the East, joining forces with the large European exporters, economic cooperation in the Carpathian Basin, and cooperation of the Visegrád countries and the Western Balkans.” All this is terribly vague.

The goal is the growth of Hungarian exports and the reduction of imports. First of all, a government has very little power to influence either export or import volume and it cannot simply by the force of will establish a level of domestic production that could in the next few years result in most finished goods in the country being stamped “made in Hungary.”

Matolcsy has a separate chapter on the “engines of economic growth” in which he mentions the chemical industry, commerce, information technology, pharmaceuticals, food processing, telecommunications, energy, construction, electronics, tourism, logistics, and car manufacturing. However, this list is not much more than that. The document simply mentions a few large companies already in existence.

When I got to this diagram about economic complexity, I became completely lost. Especially since I just heard Matolcsy say that the most important rule of economics is “simplicity.” He repeated this word at least three times. Twice in Hungarian and once in English.

 

According to the plan by 2015 exports must be raised by 75% and that fantastic growth would result in 50,000 new jobs. The plan talks vaguely about exports to China, Russia, India, and Korea. However, Hungary will also expand into Latin America as well as Africa.

Dreams, dreams, sweet dreams. As for the East European Banana and the intercontinental turntable, I’m beginning to think that there is something terribly wrong with György Matolcsy and, naturally, his boss, Viktor Orbán, who allows such a ridiculous document to be published. I’ll bet they will not translate it into English because then not only half of Hungary would be rolling with laughter but the whole world. It is frightening to imagine that the future of ten million people is in the hands of men like these two.

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An
Guest

I am afraid this banana is not going to work out any better than the Hungarian Orange.

Member
Oh my… Many of us know that for the last century, Hungarian “brain” had a certain kind of prestige around the world. For a small country we a had a large number of talents to show. The world of business, economy, chemistry, physics and art proudly featured many Hungarians scattered around. Hungarians were perceived as exotic creatures on a certain way, as our language sounds like nothing else and many people were not able to even guess where Hungary is. At the same time when a Hungarian spoke people listened. Influential people gave attention when some Hungarian in political circles, applied science, science or art had to say something. I am not going to list names here, we know them all by heart after all we all here because of Hungary. Orban in two years single handedly was able to erase all the prestige that being Hungarian meant. His group of under-qualified handpicked “professionals” made a laughing stock out of everything that currently attaches itself to Hungary. I think next to the Mad King of England, the history books also will have the Mad Prime Minister of Hungary. I am not sure what Matolcsy and the other crazies will be… Read more »
GW
Guest

All of these plans… They show that Orban & Co. learned absolutely nothing from the tragic history of decades of centralized planning and its inevitable failures from the beginning to the end of the Soviet Block era. They also show which party is most statist, centralized and most truly the heir to the Kadar era.

Member

I’m pretty much convinced that these guys are waiting for the big crash. I mean what other common denominator could exist for so much stupidity? Statistically, if you go anywhere where random number of people come together you won’t see so many retarded guys together as in our parliament. It just defies nature’s laws.
In the mean time they are pretending to be busy, coming up with these jokes.
They want to be the saviors. Those who will rebuild the country from the rubble. Like Bela II after the Mongol invasion. They will blame everything on the outside world. Horror.

Member

Oops. I’m off by a few Belas. It’s Bela IV not II.

Jano
Guest

“should be moved in space and in time close to the northern-western center.”
😀 Eva, be careful what you write about someone who has the skills to temporarily and spatially displace a whole country…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “”should be moved in space and in time close to the northern-western center.” 😀 Eva, be careful what you write about someone who has the skills to temporarily and spatially displace a whole country…”
Isn’t that something? Of course, it is only sloppiness but still! The whole thing is ludicrous.

Paul
Guest

Well, once you’ve said something as completely barmy as wanting to be the “East European Banana” there isn’t really any point in saying anything else.
Nothing’s going to top that!
Although the ‘Ivy Road’ comes a pretty close second! Why ivy, for God’s sake?! Is Hungary going to be the centre of the international ivy trade?
I think I need to lie down for a while…

Paul
Guest

The IMF are going to be REALLY impressed with this document!

Paul
Guest

And Orbán really is going for Europe’s first banana republic!
Ye Gods. Where’s JB when you need him???

Paul
Guest

Well, I didn’t have a lie down, I just went to the fridge to get a Túró Rudi instead.
And that set me thinking.
The reason I am able to eat a Túró Rudi 1,000 miles away from our local Coop is that we had one of our periodic food parcels the other day – homemade tésta for kápostás-tésta and noodles for húsleves, Túró Rudi (for the kids, of course), chicken in jars, home-grown diók and mogyorók, homemade biscuits – all the usual stuff. A really welcome parcel of Hungarian normality.
But, whilst I’m eating this strange spotty bar, that so reminds me of all the things I love and miss about Hungary, I’m also reading about the mad people who inexplicably seem to have taken over my adopted country.
It feels totally, and frighteningly, schizophrenic.
And a spotty chocolate bar has just reduced me to tears.

Gary
Guest

At first I thought the funny diagrams were made up by the blogger to add colour but now I’ve looked at the original document and my eyes were opened. Despite having no understanding of Hungarian I think I can see in the graphs and charts a classic demonstration of “How to lie with Statistics” (the title of a very nice book on the subject). Perhaps I should have said “How to delude yourself and others with Statistics and Powerpoint”.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Hungarian Orange indeed. I remember the hilarity in a Budapest cinema when “a tanú” (the witness) was screened. In this film a fellow is nominated to the manager of Hungarian orange plantation, which is of course a pipe dream.
I think it is now the time to make a film about the pipe dreams of leading Fidesz politicians.
As far as the Forint is concerned probably the solution could be to drill in the five Forint coin two wholes and sell it for ten Forint. A polish economist came out during Gomulka’s rule with this idea to save the zloty. Of course it was irony.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Grespik who was promoted by the first Orbán gov. had really original ideas. But we should not forget László Bogár who was state secretary in the MDF gov. 1990-1994 and also in Orbáns first gov 1998-2002. He is publishing his paranoic views about the world domination and the world conspiracy in Magyar Hirlap. Today I found in his article an explanation of the current economic crisis: “Following the genial supposition of the soviet-Russian economist Kondratyev, we already know that during the last 240 years with astonishing precision enormous powerful technological „explosions“ happened in the western world “(“A szovjet–orosz közgazdász, Kondratyev zseniális megsejtése nyomán már tudjuk, hogy az elmúlt kétszáznegyven év során meghökkentően pontosan negyven- éves ciklusokban óriási erejű technológiai „robbanások” mentek végbe a nyugatias világban.”)
Probably Bogár could suggest other “genial suppositions” of soviet-Russian economists to Matolcsy? Since Iranian-Hungarian relations are very good, probably Matolcsy could travel to Iran to learn how the Islamic revolution is solving economic problems?

late night
Guest

Everyone and his brother, who want to get more independence from the USA-EU duo, looks to more Russia-China-India-S.America trade. That’s OK, since the USA-EU is not a growing market now. So the intent is not bad and not sinister. Only, the EU is somewhat a trap, hence the British wish to renegotiate the EU treaty. “Vak tyuk is talal szemet(even the blind bird can pick up a corn)” as they say in Hungary

Parodia
Guest

FYI: The Amber route is a better translation for Borostyánút (instead of Ivy road). In ancient(e.g. Roman) times, it was used for trading from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic, and back. Because of geographical reasons, very few ‘Hungarian’ settlements were part of it (I only know of Szombathely, then Savaria).
Of course this does not make the whole phantasmagoria, or particularly the car manufacturing Amber Route nightmare, more realistical at all, given Hungary’s increasing isolation, just to name one.

Joseph Simon
Guest

You are all very negative, petulant and peevish. Matolcsy and Orbán are politicians who are doing their best to survive in trying times in a country with very limited resources. Hungary’s highways are excellent, from Austria to Erdély, from north to Serbia. Travelling on them one sees nothing but huge commercial vehicles in transit through Hungary. In this sense, there is hope for optimism for the country to become a hub of economic activity in the region.

joel
Guest

Can’t help thinking of the dystopia depicted in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged when following the government activities on this blog.
All the talk about great new plans, the “unorthodox” but necessary bills that are passed in order to shield Hungary against the “greedy capitalists”, the nationalization of pension funds and the rhetoric of the speeches and public announcements make me feel I’m reading Atlas Shrugged all over again.

Ron
Guest

JS: Limited resources: M&O do their best to make it even more limited.
The excellent Hungarian highways were started and some of them completed under Gyula Horn government. Notably is the M1 corridor with all its logistic centers.
VO 1 st government did only the extension on M7 only up to Velence-to.
Medgyessy completed most ones.
So thank you Mszp and EU.
As to huge commercial vehicles in transit through Hungary. That is exactly what they are doing as Hungary does not have any added value anymore. And btw the number of vehicles is only half of what it use to be.

Paul
Guest

More bananas from Matolcsy:
Gov’t aiming to fix flat income tax, pension value in cardinal law
http://www.politics.hu/20111206/govt-aiming-to-fix-flat-income-tax-pension-value-in-cardinal-law/

Paul
Guest

“Travelling on them one sees nothing but huge commercial vehicles in transit through Hungary”
Hungary’s central location is often put forward as a potential benefit, but it could just as easily be a curse. If all that happens is that traffic passess through, then the only people who benefit are the petrol stations and truck stops.
In the meantime, who pays to maintain and police the highways? Hungary is part of the EU, so it can’t start demanding extra taxes and duties – that is restraint of trade.
And who will pay for expanding the motorways to 3 lanes in a few years time? If that doesn’t happen, Hungary will have a motorway system of almost no use to its own people, as it will be completely full of lorries in transit.

Ron
Guest

Talking about logistics. Only the road transport is currently surviving.
Shipping is difficult due to the fact that due lack of rain, boats can not use the Danube, because it is too low.
And there are some problems in Germany with the Rhine-Danube connection. It takes too long.
So now they are thinking about a railway connection-hub between Passau (Austria) and Budapest, which would be part of the Pan-European corridor.
There are ten corridors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-European_corridors
Budapest is connected to 4 of these, but the Hungarian governments (all of them) do not have a strategy for the using this to the benefit of Hungary.
And if Hungary plays it well it could be the hub for 6 of these corridors, including direct and fast railway connection with China.

Member

Joseph Simon: “Matolcsy and Orbán are politicians who are doing their best to survive in trying times in a country with very limited resources. ” Well, maybe they should live the fixes to experts. Maybe they also want to do heart surgeries next to fix the healthcare system in Hungary, and show how it can be done with limited resources. Would you Simon lay under their knives?
Regarding the Western / Eastern Banana.
The Blue Banana is a concept that was developed in 1989. So the name of the “banana” is not an outlandish “pull a rabbit from the hat “. The name isn’t but trying to apply the same theory without any understanding whatsoever is laughable. You can read more about the Blue Banana and its significance as well as see the map and cities included here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Banana

Pete H.
Guest

Maybe the East European paradicsom, földieper, or paprika. But the East European banán? Seriously? Doesn’t even grow there.
And there are 12 folds in HUngarian DNA not nine.

Member

Pete H.: “Maybe the East European paradicsom, földieper, or paprika. But the East European banán? Seriously? Doesn’t even grow there.” It is about the shape of it not what grows there. Read my post right above yours.
Good news, next to one the “one pig one household” agenda, Hungary will also introduce the National Horse Strategy. THis will include three years of horsing studies for grades 4,5,6. THe educator education now will include the training for such subjects. THe implementation will begin already in 2012. The other important aspect will be the creation of horse-friendly cities.
Well, now we know what was missing to turn the Hungarian education and Hungarian economy around. I am keeping my fingers crossed for January 31st when the plan will officially presented to the parliament.
Does this sounds unbelievable? Not to worry, here is the official version:
http://www.kormany.hu/hu/miniszterelnokseg/hirek/celegyenesben-a-nemzeti-lovas-strategia

Pete H.
Guest

Some1, I am OK with horse-ed. It could be a great vehicle for teaching biology, history, etc. It might also be a great motivator for some kids. My daughter has two horses and caring for them has taught her responsibility. Working with live horses would of course only be practical in rural areas.
But horses as vehicles in cities is another matter. Hungary should keep investing in bike lanes and public transport. But horses are no longer practical in cities filled with cars. Never mind the need for hay, watering stations, and all the manure. But, I imagine OV would make it part of his works projects to employ the poor as muck rakers.
Yes, I know it is about the shape. I was trying to be snarky.

Member

Pete H: I agree that horse studies could be great in rural areas. “Horsing around” is what Orban does best of course, but it is a very expensive hobby for kids, let say in Budapest. I also agree with more bicycle friendly roads and cities would be a good starting point for a small country like Hungary. It is the perfect country to discover by bike if the infrastructure would be better.

Member

Joseph Simon: “Matolcsy and Orbán are politicians who are doing their best”
Where did you got to school? In the US 🙂 ?
In case of prime ministers this just doesn’t cut it. You fuck up, you resign. It’s about the life of 10 million people.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
I do not think that György Matolcsy wrote all 177 pages by himself. I do not know who did. I notice that the file on the internet is a ‘PDF’ file which cannot be translated by Google, or if it is I do not know how to do it. This prevents the initial translation to see if the document is worth looking at in finer details. However one of the graphics the (last one) seems to be the result of some small creature(s) dying of a sudden impact. GW it is not that the Viktator and his little chums have not learned from failures of centralised planning. Their centralising ideas were formulated during the Kadar era. They regard the Kadar model as gospel but one which was badly served by the Communists. Fuelled by righteous nationalism and revolutionary zeal they (FIDESZ) will do it better. Mutt it is the Viktator’s life’s ambition is to be the greatest Hungarian EVER. Gary you wrote ** “How to delude yourself and others with Statistics and Powerpoint”. ** Aye there is the rub! They actually believe their own propaganda and that is the worst of it! They regard any criticism or disputation of the… Read more »
Joseph Simon
Guest

We are a ‘lovas-nemzet’. When I grew up in Diósgyőr we had horses all around us and knew how to ride. Nowdays young people know horses only from American western movies. A step in the right direction.

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