Pandemic Lessons: 2021 Bratislava Free Market Roadshow


After many years, the last year’s organization of the traditional international conference Free Market Roadshow, which has been organized by Institute on Economic and Social Studies (INESS) in cooperation with Austrian Economics Center (AEC) was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, it was brought back – into the online space – and dedicated to the topic which has been perhaps the most pertinent for the last year and for many years to come: Pandemic Lessons.

On Friday, May 28, 2021, the online event was opened by director of AEC Dr. Barbara Kolm, who presented the main challenges European countries are facing and concerns about the possible approaches of individual countries and the whole European Union in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The director of INESS Dr. Richard Durana introduced INESS as the local organiser of FMRS. Thereafter, an analyst from INESS Martin Vlachynsky welcomed the audience, presented the theme of the conference, and introduced the keynote speaker of the event – Iain Murray.

Iain Murray as Vice President for Strategy at Competitive Enterprise Institute in USA in his address pointed out the danger of pandemic regulations – their unknown costs. He mentioned the irrelevance of some of the regulations, which has only emerged during the pandemic. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of deregulation of the business environment as well as free enterprise system and free trade.

In his speech he referred to one of Kipling’s poems – The Gods of the Copybook Headings, in which the author emphasized importance of adherence to eternal truths and how often we are distracted from them when it comes to regulation and free enterprise system.

Iain Murray’s contribution was followed by panel discussion of three speakers from Slovakia and Czech Republic. The first of them – Dr. Robert Chovanculiak, an INESS analyst, spoke about current pandemic situation, new solutions which the internet has brought since last year, and clever innovators on various platforms, who made it possible for a vast number of people to work, educate themselves, or order food, services, and goods from the comfort of their home. Thanks to them, we will extricate ourselves from the pandemic much better than if it had come, say, 20 years ago.

As he said: “Even in situations when the internet platforms did not perform ideally, we have to compare it to a situation without internet services. Internet helped us to survive the pandemics relatively unscathed.”

The second speaker, Dr. Petr Bartoň from Natland Investment Group focused on the topic of fiscal policy, governments’ interventions, and failures during the pandemic. Furthermore, he noted newly implemented “BCC system”. In the past, BCC meant “blind carbon copy” and was used when sending a copy of an email to someone without the knowledge of the other person.

Nowadays, it means “BeCause of Covid” and is being used as justification of policies and procedures, which had been considered wrong and inappropriate before the covid pandemic. As he added,

“Uncertainty is the job of every investor – investors are merchants of uncertainty. Investor invest into something, because he has better information, or maybe the investor believes he can have better result than anyone else. However, the uncertainty is still there. When we see politicians (not only in Czech context) during the Covid, whose actions resemble the random Brown movement, I am afraid it makes the work of an investor more complicated.”

The speech of the third and the last speaker, Dr. Dominik Stroukal from Prague CERVO Institute University was devoted to monetary policy of the world’s major central banks, inflation, and importance of alternative currencies.

“I am fascinated and surprised, that even during the worst economic and human times in the past 90 years, where we see the state totally failed, that doing things from the bottom was much better. But the results is, that when you ask people, they tell you we need state for the situations like the pandemics,” he said.

The individual contributions were followed by a short moderated discussion related to government’s steps against lockdown, decentralized solutions to the pandemic and its impact not only to economy, but also social life.

A recording of the conference can be viewed at this link.

Continue exploring:

Self-Employed Person Versus Employee in Slovakia

Slovak Finances: Politicians’ Appetite Grows with Crises

Paulina Ivanisova