The Turmoil@20 presentation and lunch for selected media was the last of a number of public events in Poland in an intensive 2009. Planning the event for the 17th December we did not realize we would have to face a serious challenge of – 10 degrees Celsius and almost 2 inches of first snow this winter. That probably kept a lot of the invited guests at home but, as quality is more important than quantity, those who made it surprised us with raising a very lively discussion.
Juan Zalduendo, Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for the ECA Region and one of the authors of Turmoil@20 presented the main findings of the book that were focused on the following main messages and themes:
- Significant differences across ECA countries
- Banking choices during transition shaped financial integration before the crisis (and also the recovery)
- Fiscal policy should have played a greater role during the PRE-CRISIS period, though high global liquidity also stretched the policy toolkit
- High growth will be difficult and fiscal accounts will suffer—governments should spend smartly
- Positive legacy of central planning—human capital and infrastructure—was exhausted before the crisis
- Draw correct lesson from crisis: integration works!
During the presentation Juan answered three main questions: why ECA region was hit more than other emerging market economies, what are the early conclusions after the crisis and what structural reforms are needed at the moment?
Interview given by Juan for DowJones »
The full answer Juan closed in 3 main points:
- coordinated policy action has helped to avoid a systemic regional crisis
- it is important to recognize that the pre-crisis external imbalances were not accompanied by counter-cyclical fiscal policies
- an enabling business environment is crucial going forward
"There is no doubt that the crisis represents a serious challenge for Poland and other countries in the ECA region. However, we must not forget what has already been achieved since the historic days of 1989," Juan concluded after the first, official part of the presentation. "In the past two decades, Poland and the region have undergone fundamental change and built successful and competitive market economies. Living standards have improved and millions of poor have been lifted out of poverty—even if the crisis also means that some of these gains will unfortunately be lost. But there should be also no doubt that, thanks to their well known resourcefulness, countries in the ECA region will once again successfully navigate a post-crisis world." The second part of the event was less official with a traditional Christmas lunch, and turned into a very lively discussion around the Turmoil@20 main findings. As the whole Team of our PREM colleagues turned up, the media had unique chance to talk to all of them over Christmas herring salad and Christmas cakes.