The first 16 years of the post-1989 period in Slovakia can be described as an era of privatization. A majority of the state-owned economy was transformed into a market-oriented model, where state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain the only key player in several sectors.
INESS has been one of the few opponents of the regulation. We included the abolition of the cash payment restrictions in our long-term competitiveness program Top20. Also, thanks to our advocacy, the (currently) biggest opposition party included a partial easing of the regulations (rising the EUR 5,000 limit to EUR 15,000) in its 2016 election program.
Chinese steel is a typical strawman for U.S. politicians. Employment in the U.S. steel industry fell dramatically indeed. There were around 780,000 employees in the sector in the late 1960s and the industry was producing 115 million tons of steel. Today, there are less than 100,000 employees.
Most economists and politicians agree that investment subsidies break market principles. However, many consider subsidies a necessary tool in the global competition for investors and as an economic growth booster. INESS analyzed the investment subsidies granted in Slovakia during the years 2002–2016.
Treaties about free trade are not about free trade, but about managed trade. They are the result of thinking in the frames of the 300-years old mercantilist philosophy, which considers export to be the source of wealth and import to be the price paid for that wealth.
INESS members took to the streets with a physical version of the annual bureaucracy load of a new company (652 pages of forms) and polled pedestrians about their view on red tape, giving red apples to the pessimists and green ones to the more positive oriented folks.
While higher taxes cause immediate pain, numerous fees can be hidden in prices of products with anybody hardly noticing. A systematic concealing of environmental or social policies into the electricity prices is one of the causes of high prices. INESS has attempted to quantify the effect by introduction of the imaginary “Electric Tax”.
Funny thing is that even professors of economics in the United States themselves were often not able to see the worse performance and lagging of centrally planned economies. Too much of intellectual work sometimes makes people forget to look out of the window.
Slovakia is experiencing situation common to many European economies. The price of electric energy on the market is falling, so is the overall consumption of electricity. And yet, the final price for consumers, especially in the industrial sector, remains high.
Riding on the wave of historical fear, Slovak government quickly came up with a new protective law. In general, it forbids any agricultural landowner to sell land (2000 square meters and more) freely to just anyone. The willing seller has to actively search for an interested local farmer and offer him the land for “usual” price first.