“Secrets revealed”: Memoirs about the financial attacks on Hungary

Many opposition politicians, especially before the deal between Orbán and Putin became public, suggested that the coming election should be declared a kind of referendum on the European Union. After all, the majority of the Hungarian electorate still supports Hungary’s membership in the Union while Orbán’s favorite target is the European Union. Well, the Orbán government is prepared. Helga Wiedermann, the right hand of György Matolcsy in the ministry of national development and again in the Hungarian National Bank, came out with her memoirs entitled Chess and Poker.

How timely! The book is not yet available in bookstores, but Magyar Nemzet has an advance reader’s copy from which the newspaper quotes extensively. The upshot of the story is that the European Commission, especially Olli Rehn, commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, is a deadly enemy of Hungary. The European Union, conspiring with leading members of the international world of finance, tried through monetary means to unseat Viktor Orbán as prime minister of Hungary. But in the end Matolcsy’s genius guided by Viktor Orbán’s superior vision triumphed against all odds.

Who is Helga Wiedermann? Mighty little can be found out about her on the Internet, which should surprise nobody. The whole Hungarian government is full of people who have no professional background for the jobs they fill. Political loyalty is what counts. I assume that Wiedermann must have had good Fidesz connections because she began her career in Matolcsy’s ministry as “political adviser.” To accommodate faithful Fidesz supporters this administration creates new positions right and left. Matolcsy either must have been terribly impressed with her political advice or received word that Wiedermann needs a more important and permanent job: she was elevated to be Matolcsy’s chief-of staff. When Matolcsy moved over to the National Bank, his trusted chief-of-staff went with him. They created a new position for her called “director general” (főigazgató). According to a blogger who seems to know a lot about the inner workings of the National Bank, Helga Wiedermann is the only person besides Matolcsy who can hire and fire at will. The same blogger calls Widermann a “professional zero,” nothing more than the person in charge of human resources.

Given this background, one must ask how Helga Wiedermann can report on minute details of Ecofin meetings attended by all the finance ministers of the European Union. How did she learn what transpired there? Clearly, only from her boss, György Matolcsy.

According to her story, Olli Rehn from the very first Ecofin meeting Matolcsy attended was a sworn enemy of Hungary at a time when the country was struggling to conquer the economic crisis. For example, at that very first meeting Olli Rehn tried “to portray Hungary in the worst possible light and claimed that the Hungarian situation was as bad as the Greek when Hungary was in fact in much better shape.” Now, that is really funny! I remember distinctly that it was not a long time ago that Viktor Orbán himself claimed that when he became prime minister Hungary was in worse shape than Greece. Well, what is the truth then? I have the feeling that by now even they cannot tell.

There was incredible pressure put on Matolcsy from day one, even from members of the European People’s Party, to extend the IMF-EU loan and introduce an austerity program. After Matolcsy categorically stated that he was unwilling to follow their advice, “he was put under incredible economic and later political pressure.” And yet he resisted.

Wiedermann then moves on to really juicy stuff. How the European Union, conspiring with the leaders of large European and American banks, tried to remove Viktor Orbán and replace him with another Fidesz leader who would not insist on levying extra taxes on banks and instead would be ready to introduce the much desired austerity program. According to the author, the decision to unseat Orbán was hatched sometime in the spring of 2011. By July 2011 there was an attack against the forint, which until then had moved together with the Polish złoty and the Czech koruna. According to Wiedermann, there was no reason for this sudden weakening of the Hungarian currency. On the contrary, the Kálmán Széll Plan had just been introduced and was well received by the markets. Moreover, in the spring of 2011 the Hungarian treasury floated a successful bond issue.

So, what happened? Why this attack on the forint? Wiedermann has the answer. In the spring of 2011 in a New York restaurant six representatives of American investment banks decided to attack the forint. Why did they conspire to do that? After all, these banks didn’t have subsidiaries in Hungary and therefore they were not directly affected by the extra levies on banks in Hungary. They acted because they realized the danger of the Hungarian example. The poor innocent Hungarian official in the ministry didn’t realize what was going on until September because until then the weakening of the forint was slow and gradual.

Source: tenytar.blog.hu

Source: tenytar.blog.hu

The rest of the book is a tale of the brilliance of György Matolcsy, who managed to lift the sanctions against Hungary despite Ollie Rehn’s concerted efforts. Matolcsy had many friends among the finance ministers. Even the finance minister of Finland and Denmark sided with Hungary, although they were close allies of Rehn. A real surprise came when Great Britain and Sweden voted for lifting the sanctions. In brief, total victory for the efforts of Viktor Orbán and György Matolcsy.

The appearance of the book is well timed. This attack on the European Union and American bankers is supposed to sway Hungarian voters to support the heroic Orbán government, which stands for independence and sovereignty. The members of the “Hungarian team” are the defenders of the nation while foreigners wanted them to suffer the indignity of a draconian austerity program. These guys pull out all the stops.

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Curly
Guest

“For example, at that very first meeting Olli Rehn tried “to portray Hungary in the worst possible light and claimed that the Hungarian situation was as bad as the Greek when Hungary was in fact in much better shape.” Now, that is really funny! I remember distinctly that it was not a long time ago that Viktor Orbán himself claimed that when he became prime minister Hungary was in worse shape than Greece.”

Yes, at the outset they came up with this claim. Just a couple of weeks after taking over in 2010, Kosa and Szijjarto came up with this claim. All within a few days of each other, and the forint lost about 10% of its value in the aftermath. Obviously, it was a concerted effort back then to talk down the forint in order to let the recently ousted Socialists take the blame for what was to come. And who had to suffer the most from this? Those with foreign currency loans still unpaid. To whom later Fidesz would come to the rescue, saving them from those nasty foreign banks. It is hard to top cynicism like that.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/world/europe/05hungrary.html?_r=0

Tamas
Guest

Thank you Eva! You made me laugh.

e-clown
Guest

Is Helga hiding behind the clown mask on the election posters?

Tinshed
Guest
Interesting tweet from FIDESZ spokesman Ferenc Kumin on Friday in which he praises an article in the Huffington Post saying at last someone “has written something thoughtful on the phenomenon of Jobbik”. When you read the article it points to the anti-EU nature of JOBBIK and says that the party “dominates the anti-EU movement in Hungary”. The article seems to be sympathy with this view claiming that the EU can be “seen as a new form of financial imperialism”. Hmm. Hungary is a net recipient of EU by any measure (% of GDP, Euros per capita, etc.). You can see this clearly at http://www.money-go-round.eu/. So who is explaining to Hungarians that belonging to the EU might actually be a good thing? Whose explaining to Hungarians the benefits of belonging to one of the world’s largest and most powerful trading blocs? Clearly not FIDESZ! Now of course like any large grouping, there are issues within the EU. But these are usually solved through the institutions and dialogue mechanism available, not by ratcheting-up anti-EU rhetoric. Among many other failings of the current regime, the failure to explain, promote and endorse the benefits of belonging to the EU is among the most egregious.
Simon
Guest
Interesting post on the World Socialist website about how the Fidesz government revises history and exploits the Holocaust: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/14/hung-f14.html They also describe the growing poverty under Orban: The mounting social polarisation in Hungary is revealing itself to be less and less compatible with democratic forms of rule. According to a survey by the TARKI Social Research Institute from the end of last year, poverty in Hungary has greatly increased. The survey showed that almost half the Hungarian population—exactly 46.6 percent—now live below the poverty line of €260 (US$355) a month. The figure for the Roma minority is as high as 92 percent. The report exposes the fact that 4 out of 5 households have no material reserves and are unable to afford, for example, a household repair or any other additional expenditure of more than 100,000 forints (approximately €330). The income gap between the highest and the lowest 10 percent has grown by 25 percent since 2009. The share of the poorest 10 percent in the total national income has fallen from 3.1 to 2.6 percent. According to reliable estimations, more than 250,000 children in Hungary are not adequately nourished. About 50,000 of them regularly suffer starvation. Matolcsy can brag… Read more »
Member

So she is a ghost writer. I am more curious who is the real writer. I am always torn when I read something like this, as I feel that even discussing such items is an added publicity. Any publicity is good for Fidesz as this point as they want people to talk about them. They want to be the name, they want to be discussed. Even people who laugh about the book (as much as they know about it), there is always a curiosity to read such garbage, hence I would not be surprised if it becomes a best seller. “it must be true” people will think, if it is such a well received book…

Mutt
Guest

Gyorgy Matolcsy was born in a log cabin inside a secret base on Hungary’s most sacred mountain, the Pilis. At the moment of his birth, a bright star lit up the sky, the seasons spontaneously changed from winter to spring, and rainbows appeared.

Mutt
Guest

I posted it earlier but here is it again. The second genious of the Charpatians.

http://youtu.be/1MefH57jhpI

Mutt
Guest

Im sorry i forgot. The video has subtitles. Make sure you turn on CC (captions).

Leo
Guest

As a reader I would like to read more about Helga Wiedermann. She certainly must have good Fidesz connections, but these highly reliable people appearing apparently out of nowhere often turn out to have pretty interesting resumes. On the internet, though, there is literally nothing on her, pretty strange these days.

petofi
Guest

Mutt :
Gyorgy Matolcsy was born in a log cabin inside a secret base on Hungary’s most sacred mountain, the Pilis. At the moment of his birth, a bright star lit up the sky, the seasons spontaneously changed from winter to spring, and rainbows appeared.

Yes, I heard that but you’ve left out the last part: apparently, his father full of Hungarian whiskey and flushed with pride, took a walk outside the hospital to curl his mustache and have a cigar. Precisely as he lit up, a big bird flew overhead and unloaded a monstrous pile that hit him on the back of his head and slid down his shirt…

BenTor
Guest
Tinshed, I would argue that many people do not care about the EU because they do not feel to be the benficiaries of it. To the contrary. An anti-EU rhetoric (any anti-something rhetoric) can only be successful if it has some truth to it. Granted, town centers look nicer, water gets treated, land users get enormous subsidies (even though it would be anyway profitable to grow staple grains), railways get rebuilt. But these are distant issues actually removed from people’s private lives. Most people feel that there is a tremendous pulling force exerted by Western Europe (capitalism), which Hungarians just cannot resist and thus for example they and their relatives emigrate. People hate to do that and hate to see others doing it. Internally, people move from villages to towns, from towns to Budapest. Even in Pecs, people say that the highway is only good for people to look for jobs in Budapest (to somehow commute the distance of 200 km, 130 miles), it did not bring any jobs. The bigger, the stronger, the more efficient wins, with lots of losers on the way. Factories get closed because they can’t compete with Danish pork, Slovak milk, Italian pasta, Chinese everything… Read more »
Mr. Paul
Guest

Éva, did you manage to read the book yet? The Magyar Nemzet article that you linked makes all sorts of claims about what is in the book, but I don’t consider them reliable.

For example this article claims that this part is in the book about a 2011 discussion with Simor:

” Simor „falfehér volt, és remegett a keze, és igen furcsa mondatokat kezdett el mondani”. Szerinte Magyarország három héten belül államcsődöt jelent. Matolcsy György alig hitt a fülének, kétszer is visszakérdezett: „András, jól hallottam, hogy szerinted három hét múlva, december elejére államcsőd alakul ki Magyarországon?” Simor ezt megerősítette, de az okokat nem részletezte.”

In English:
[Andras] Simor was pale white, his hands were trembling. He said that Hungary will default within three weeks. To repeated questions Simor once again confirmed the coming collapse without giving detailed reasons for it.

Éva if you have the book can you look it up if this passage is really in there, or is it a MN invention?

Mr. Paul
Guest

Andras Simor was the chief of the central bank at the time.

Max
Guest

During the period described in the book I had worked in Brussels and cultivated excellent relationship with Rehn’s aides. All decent and conscientious people.

I am sure Widermann will not discuss in her book the fact that Matolcsy dissolved the ECOFIN group of the HU Standing Representation in December 2010, two weeks before HU’s EU Presidency. He filled the group with new and inexpirienced cronies, fatally wounding HU interests in a most critical period!! A friendly fire par excellence.

When Widermann arrived at the central bank, she had marched through the corridors in the style of an army sergeant and checked the view of all rooms. As Matolcsy came with a 40-strong entourage from the Economics Ministry – including with is own cook! – the new comrades had to have the best rooms in the building. The staff of the selected rooms have either been simply dismissed or removed to other location.

Mr. Paul
Guest
“Wiedermann then moves on to really juicy stuff. How the European Union, conspiring with the leaders of large European and American banks, tried to remove Viktor Orbán and replace him with another Fidesz leader who would not insist on levying extra taxes on banks and instead would be ready to introduce the much desired austerity program. According to the author, the decision to unseat Orbán was hatched sometime in the spring of 2011.” I would rather say that Wiedermann only repeats what was already reported by others years ago. When these events were actually playing out there was a lot of talk surrounding this, and the claim that there was a large effort to remove Viktor Orban in late 2011 early 2012, is not new at all. The famous left-wing economist Péter Róna described this removal attempt in 2012 in a 168 ora interview: – Hát… láttunk néhány példát. Mivel az uniót már nem Brüsszel vezeti, hanem Berlin, Merkel „nevezi ki s váltja le” a perifériák országainak miniszterelnökeit. – Így van, és ez Magyarországra is áll. A Nyugat a közelmúltig azon hezitált, hogy Orbánt ejtsék-e, vagy a helyén hagyják. Ezt komolyan mérlegelték. Végül megúszta. A perdöntő a relatíve magas belföldi… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Thank YOU, Mr. Paul. What would we do without you hammering home the Fidesz line..not once, but twice. You are a peach–our very own, homegrown, fully matured, schmuck. (By the way, I’d rather have 10 Merkels as my leader before one Orban; and if she gets to be king-maker, by golly, it’s much better than say, Putin.) I would hazard a guess that Max’s depiction of Matolcsy’s gang of four bears much more substance: I can see the strutting Hungarian marionettes now as they, noses in the air, searched out their quarters in the Central Bank. Little papier machier dolls, one and all. And finally, if indeed the West tried to peacefully remove a Hitler-in-the-bud peacefully, would that not have been preferable to the inevitable bloodshed that will happen when the situation will explode on its own eventually? The process gathering steam in heroic Hungary is according to the Machavelli blueprint for Princes: let the populace fear and tremble, and to do that there’s no more effective a way than to spread want and poverty country-wide so that people would be beholden for their daily bread. With 46.6% of the population below the poverty line, this scenario is well on… Read more »
petofi
Guest

correction: “four” should be “forty”

Mr. Paul
Guest

Petofi I am surprised about your latest rant, so let me ask you a question.

Do you consider Péter Róna, the economist, a Fidesznik?

Do you consider 168 óra, a Fidesz owned paper? Do you consider the people who create 168 óra, Mester Ákos, Krug Emília, Mészáros Tamás and others Fideszniks?

Please answer these questions before we can move forward.

oneill
Guest

” In the spring of 2011 in a New York restaurant six representatives of American investment banks decided to attack the forint. Why did they conspire to do that? After all, these banks didn’t have subsidiaries in Hungary and therefore they were not directly affected by the extra levies on banks in Hungary. They acted because they realized the danger of the Hungarian example”

Lordy me. How exactly did this news reach Orbanistan?
Matolcsy had the restaurant bugged?
There were Fidesz agents working in the kitchen?

One of the investment bankers had a most un-investmentment banker like guilty conscience and spilt the beans to the regime?

Or Matolcsy and all who associate with him are stark raving bonkers?

petofi
Guest

Mr. Paul :
Petofi I am surprised about your latest rant, so let me ask you a question.
Do you consider Péter Róna, the economist, a Fidesznik?
Do you consider 168 óra, a Fidesz owned paper? Do you consider the people who create 168 óra, Mester Ákos, Krug Emília, Mészáros Tamás and others Fideszniks?
Please answer these questions before we can move forward.

I don’t know Rona, but I believe in Eva’s objectivity: she’s stated something to the effect that
Rona’s not to be trusted.
As for any Hungarian paper–I think all the papers have seen the writing on the wall: oppose Orban and Fidesz and you’ll, eventually, face bankruptcy. I even see the effects of the Orban/Fidesz roller-coaster running down Kalman Olga, who’s reporting is getting meeker all the time.

While we’re posing questions, Mr. Paul, tell me: how much money passed hands when the Azeri axe-murderer was released? With all your inside knowledge, you must have an idea…

petofi
Guest

By the way, Mr. Paul, my own opinion of Rona–from what I’ve seen so far–is that he’s a self-important opportunist.

petofi
Guest

Want to hear more, Mr. Paul?
My own choice for the opposition ticket is Bokros as lead, followed by Bajnai (the goose-killer)
in 2nd position. The others as stipulated. I would also require the top 20 list-leaders to sign a probity clause.

Luidzsi 34
Guest
Mr. Paul, re no. 13, I love Hungarian fly on the wall reporting like atlatszo.hu’s “Polt met with Szilvasy and secretly agreed on something” or “Simor told Matolcsy something”. I wonder how these pieces of information were obtained if we know that the people involved are not especially the talkative kind. Of course, I get it in the second case that Matolcsy must have told it to Wiedermann who then wrote the “story”. The question is then do I believe Matolcsy, or Wiedermann for that matter (with no discernible background and a bad in-house reputation to boot)? Do we not need perhaps some source criticism, being familiar with Fidesz’s blatant lies or with the lunatic history of Matolcsy and some of the people around him? I certainly do not believe Matolcsy, so the question is what does Simor say to that? Then and only then can we argue about what may have happened, who was right or wrong. No. 15: As to Peter Rona, he often entertains, shall we say politely, strange ideas, as well as being a bit weird person, and who is on the record hating Simor and hating and condemning the previous management of the National Bank… Read more »
Mr. Paul
Guest

OK Petofi, but try to just for a second look at how the discussion played out.

I wrote in a quote from Péter Róna, given to 168 óra.

You wrote a response to the quote, in which you somehow manage to include the name “Hitler” and references to “inevitable bloodshed” coming “when the situation will explode”. I assume these last passages refer to the Civil War, you are convinced is coming.

To say “that escalated quickly” would be a severe understatement. In other words I am just asking for a bit more rational discussion, that is all.

Mr. Paul
Guest

Luidzsi 34 :
I certainly do not believe Matolcsy, so the question is what does Simor say to that?
Then and only then can we argue about what may have happened, who was right or wrong.

Yes Simor now has an opportunity to confirm or deny that discussion ever took place. It will be very interesting to see what he does next.

spectator
Guest

As I remember, long time ago the US set up the Taliban with weapons what later was used against the US. (Yes, I know the why’s, but it beside the point)

As I see it, in Hungary Orbán collecting the money from the EU to be strong enough to turn against them. (Without the subsidies the whole Orbanistan would gone belly up years ago, as we know.)

Why do I see some parallels here? Must be those Asian genes and those red dots to blame, doubtlessly…

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