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.
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.