Poland bids farewell to investors

Not long ago, Poland was still the darling of emerging markets. Not so much anymore, says Andrew Van Sickle.


Poland: populist cheer heralds economic gloom

Not long ago, Poland was still "the darling of emerging markets", says Shahzad Hasan of Allianz Global Investors. But he has "not been impressed" by recent developments, he told the FT. He's not alone. Since the election of the Law and Justice party last October, one ETF tracking the stockmarket has lost a third of its assets. The currency has plummeted and the local WIG 20 index of blue-chip companies has lost over a fifth in the past year.

The new government "has developed a reputation for being populist, nationalist, and perhaps authoritarian", says The Wall Street Journal's Adam O'Neal. Democratic institutions are being "squeezed": party functionaries now oversee the media and have the power to sack journalists. The European Commission has issued an unprecedented opinion saying the government is endangering the rule of law, adds Aliya Ram in the FT.

On the economic front, populist promises, including lowering the retirement age, money for families with more than one child, and raising the tax-free threshold on income tax, are the order of the day. All this is to be paid for by taxing bank assets, insurers and large retailers. Not coincidentally, these tend to have foreign owners, which has darkened the outlook for further foreign investment.

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Poland had been a model of pro-market reforms and rapid development since the fall of Communism. It is Europe's sixth-biggest economy, worth around $530bn, whose growth has easily outstripped the rest of the continent's over the last ten years. But now it seems to be following the trail blazed by the self-proclaimed "illiberal democracy" of Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orban, says the FT's Henry Foy.

Confidence took another knock this month when the deputy prime minister confirmed the government's new nationalist economic policy in an interview entitled "Farewell to Neoliberalism". It may be a long time before investors come back.

Peruvian stocks top global table

Foreign investment in gold and copper mining has allowed Peru to open two new mines this year. Over a decade of political stability and sensible fiscal and monetary policies has fuelled international confidence and underpinned this positive backdrop. Peru, concludes Joaquin Cottani of Standard & Poor's Global, is "an economic success story".

Dollar reaches a plateau

"A Fed on hold takes away support for the dollar," says Fiera Capital Corp's Jonathan Lewis. The weak May jobs report has pushed back thecentral bank's next interest-rate move. Instead of moving this summer, it may now even wait until November's presidential election is over.

The gap between US and European or Japanese rates remains high, but this has surely been factored in by now. Moreover, the greenback's strong run over the past few years it gained 40% between 2008 and late 2015 has tempered growth. That in turn has helped make markets more nervous about rate rises, so the Fed is now all the more cautious, as Ashmore Investment Management's Jan Dehn told the FT. The upshot, reckons Dehn, is that the greenback has "reached a plateau".

Andrew Van Sickle

Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.

After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.

His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.

Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.