Friday, April 29, 2011

My quotes in The Economist

The Economist has just published three articles on Poland's politics and economic situation.

I am quoted in the economic section in: “Germany helped save Mitteleuropa” and "Mr Piatkowski speaks of a “New Golden Age”, with Poland converging on west European levels of well-being soon after 2020".

The full text of this insightful article is available online.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

CSR - Corporate Social (Ir)responsibility?

I have recenttly come across a number of publications/conference/seminars enthusing over the idea of CSR.

Now, I am in favor of any corporate actions that improve social welfare. But I have doubts at the same time whether by focusing on CSR we are not actually losing track of something else.

Specifically, can companies be considered "socially responsible" when they "optimize" taxes, thus reducing tax revenue, undermining productive public spending (roads etc) and--ceteris paribus--increasing tax rates for consumers, who need to pay more because of lower CIT revenue? Just read this shocking NYT's story on General Electric, which despite having earned almost $15 billion dollars in profits in 2010 have not only paid nothing to the US Treasury, but even claimed a $3.2 billion refund! Given the nominal 35% CIT rate in the US, GE should have paid some $5 billion of taxes on its worldwide income. This compares with $160 million that GE spends on CSR per year, that is 3% of the amount that it should have paid in taxes. How socially responsible is this?

And what about companies that may be spending on a lot on CSR but focus their business on selling overpriced products that consumers do not need, often on the basis of misleading information? Let's take Danone, a French food company and one of the global CSR leaders. It produces Actimel and Activia, dairy products with added bacteria, which cost a multiple of a price of regular milk and yoghurt and--against the claims of the company--have no proven impact on health whatsoever? The company recently lost a case in the US and had to pay $21 million in damages (read this and that). How socially responsible is this?

I leave it to you to decide.

The New World Bank EU10 Economic Report

The World Bank has just published its useful and comprehensive "EU10 Regular Economic Report", April 2011, which covers the recent economic developments in the EU-10 area. Worth reading, not only because I have contributed to it, including on the EU 2020 focus note:-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The new growth model - the Warsaw Consensus!

The DC-based Center for European Policy Analysis has just published my paper on the "Post-Crisis Prospects and a New Growth Model for the EU-10", where I analyze the growth prospects of the EU-10 countries (New Europe), argue that the global crisis has undermined the credibility of the current growth model, and offer a set of policy recommendations for a new growth agenda for the region - the Warsaw Consensus.

This is an important paper for me, particularly as I introduce the concept of the Warsaw Consensus as the strategic growth model for Central Europe.

All comments are warmly welcome!