Sunday, April 12, 2009

Slovakia still the frontrunner - irony and self-critic

As the data on the economic production and trends in the first few months in ECE is gradually revealed it is quite clear that the whole region is facing an economic downturn, regardless of earlier preformance and forecasts on possible growth. Last week the Slovak Statistical Office published its results on the industrial production in February, 28,2% year on year decline. It is very serious, especially as the industry makes up at about a third of Slovakia's GDP, but not suprisingly, given the effects of the crisis on the car making industry, of wich Slovakia's current ecenomics is based on.

The real surprise is the reaction of some of the Slovak newpapers, especially that of the SME's. The newspaper suddenly portrayed the situation very realistically, moreover we should find traces of self irony in the article. It is enough to emphasize the title, almost jokingly plyaing with the phrase "look at someone's back" in case soemone is hopelessly trailing the other. For months Slvakia was a frontrunner with its enomrous growth and Hungary was prophecized to be doomed, but the situation suudenly cahnged and at the moment it is not clear who is leading the pack in terms of velocity of the contraction. In this case Slovakia's "superiority" - that very popular idea - regarding the speed of decline is stressed and portrayed as faster than either the Czech Republic's or Hungary's speed of industrial contraction - turning around the whole concept.

Here I'm obliged to make some self-critic, the SME, that I was criticizing because the articles in the newapaper were sometimes reflecting the strong belief in Slovakia's superiority, moreover lecturing on the right economic policy, reacted very soon and changed its stance and did it with an obious sense of humor as well. Otherwise it is still the same perception of ECE, the eternal competition. But at least it is more digestible, and far easier to tolerate this way.

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