Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How newspaper headlines can deceive us...

The new York Review of Books has a nice article by Tony Parks on how headlines, which are usually the responsibility of the newspapers' editor not the writer, may mislead and confuse the readers. Good read and a warning to all writers and readers alike.

Three most interesting excerpts:

"Writer and reader continue to nurture the comforting illusion that they are at opposite ends of a direct line of communication, that the writer has spoken exactly and completely his mind on the matter in question, while the reader has followed and understood his reasoning from beginning to end. In reality, every message, whether in book, newspaper, or blog, is mediated in all kinds of ways, all of which tend to push the text toward two related editorial priorities: melodrama and the received idea."


"But nothing prejudices the way a reader comes to a piece more than its headline. Nothing is more likely to make him or her believe, even after reading the article through, that the author has said something he has not said and perhaps would never want people to imagine he has said"


"It wasn’t always thus. Up until about a century ago, a headline or title was usually a neutral attempt to inform the reader of the contents of an article or book. But as the twentieth century progressed, or regressed, it was more and more understood as an advertising opportunity and the writing itself as no more, no less, than “content”—a consumer good. Newspapers on the verge of financial meltdown grow desperate and clearly seek to gratify their particular readership’s supposed prejudices. I just heard a BBC interview with Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the leftwing Guardian, about an ongoing spat between his paper and the rightwingDaily Mail. Rusbridger spoke of a mutual respect between two papers that knew how to give their target readership what they wanted. He didn’t appear to realize how depressing and patronizing this was as a comment on both readers and journalists. As if the argument between the papers was in fact no more than an effective commercial ploy".

Friday, October 18, 2013

My article in the Polish edition of "Forbes"

"Polski nowy Złoty Wiek: z europejskich peryferii do centrum"

Andrzej Wajda wyreżyserował kolejny, świetny film. Jego „Wałęsa. Człowiek z Nadziei” jest zasłużenie polskim kandydatem do Oskara. Tło filmu pokazuje jednak, jak siermiężna była polska rzeczywistość w tamtych czasach. Jakże wiele się od tego czasu zmieniło

The full text available here

Financial Times reviews the "Poland's New Golden Age" paper

Financial Times has reviewed the paper on its BeyondBrics blog. This is a fairly nice review. An excerpt below:

"Most people looking at a global economy buffeted by five years of crises and turmoil would be loath to call this a “Golden Age”. But that is just what Poland is experiencing, according to a new World Bank paper. Marcin Piatkowski, a World Bank economist, makes the fairly convincing argument that central Europe’s largest economy is enjoying its greatest period of stability since the country appeared on the map of European history more than a thousand years ago."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Poland's new generation is the most competitive generation ever

As I argue in the World Bank paper, economic models, which spit out long-term growth projections, are deeply flawed as they are blind towards soft, but nonetheless critically important factors such as culture, values or the determination to get ahead and catch up with the West.

Specifically, growth models compare oranges to apples when they do not reflect the fundamental difference in Poland between the old, post-Soviet generation and the new, European generation in terms of work ethos, command of English, personal integrity, entrepreneurship, educational aspirations, social trust, openness, internet use or civic engagement.

The old, 50+ generation has throughout their lives acquired skills, which allowed them to survive under communism, but have proven difficult to thrive in capitalism. Kafkaesque incentives, lack of innovation, acceptance of mediocre quality, lack of focus on customer service and satisfaction, and a guarantee of employment promoted a skill set and mentality that are not the same as those needed today in modern European capitalism. The work ethos also suffered, following in the footsteps of earlier generations.

In turn, the young generation of Poles today is probably the most competitive Polish generation ever. Anecdotal and formal evidence (Social Diagnosis 2011, 2013, Boni 2011) suggests that the new generation is more materially motivated, more assertive, and more focused on success than the old generation. It is also much more traveled, cosmopolitan, urban, open-minded and European. It is also significantly better educated: only 13 percent of the generation aged 55-64 has tertiary education relative to 39 percent for those aged 25-34, one of the largest differences among the OECD countries (OECD 2013). The new generation is also widely perceived to be among the most productive and hard working in Europe, in reversal of old stereotypes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Interview on the "Poland's New Golden Age" paper by Obserwator Finansowy

The interview entitled "The best time for Poland after 500 years" (in Polish) has been published by the National Bank of Poland's "Obserwator Finansowy". The English version is here

Monday, October 7, 2013

My new World Bank's paper on "Poland's New Golden Age: Shifting from Europe's Periphery to Its Center" - comments welcome!

I have just published a new paper in the World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, WPS 6639 on "Poland's New Golden Age: Shifting from Europe's Periphery to Its Center". The paper's abstract is below.

To my knowledge, the paper is the first attempt to:
1. Draw worldwide attention to the remarkable economic performance of Poland since 1989, becoming Europe's No. 1 in terms of GDP growth. The country has also done very well relative to 40 countries at a similar level of development, including all Asian Tigers and other emerging markets, coming in in the top 5 between 1995 and 2012.
2. Argue that in mere 20 years Poland seems to have offset almost 500 years of economic decline relative to Western Europe, moving on its way from the continent's periphery to its center;
3. Assert that the rise of Poland (and the rest of Central Europe) will re-shape Europe's politics, affect the functioning of the EU and -- through the EU -- affect the global economy.

Comments to the paper are much welcome! 

They will help me to write a book based on the paper.


The objective of the paper is (i) to help fill the gap in knowledge on the long-term economic history of Poland; (ii) to provide a new perspective to the debate on the economic future of Poland, with a special focus on its historically unprecedented post-transition growth experience; and (iii) to analyze critically long-term growth projections for Poland. The paper argues that (i) Poland has just had probably the best 20 years in its economic history, growing the fastest among all European economies and one of the fastest worldwide; (ii) by 2013, it Poland achieved levels of income, quality of life, and well-being likely never experienced before, including relative to Western Europe, a natural benchmark; and (iii) Poland is well placed to continue converging with the Western European levels of income, permanently moving from the economic periphery of Europe, where it languished for centuries, to the European economic center. The twenty-first century thus promises to become Poland's new Golden Age. The paper calls for further research on the lessons from Poland's successful growth model for other countries in the region and beyond as well as on the long-term implications of the rise of Poland for the future of Europe