Jan Macháček


Výsledky hledání

Czech Business Weekly

Citizen Jahn, ČNB, and class with Klaus

19. 09. 2005
Martin Jahn hasn’t received much good press in his race for a parliamentary seat. For some, the ČSSD (Social Democrat) candidate is just serving as a puppet to attract Prague’s centrist or right wing voters to the party; his real impact for the party would be minimal.

Others say this “liberal economist” has failed to oppose ČSSD’s possible cooperation with the communists after the coming elections. The observers behind these statements are usually the very same people who used to say that, while he was deputy prime minister for economic affairs, Jahn only wanted to improve his CV without taking the risk of entering the political race.

I see it differently. Political analysts often speak about the extremely low quality of the political elites in this country, especially within the context of party politics. We need an elite leadership; only companies that can send their best people to the top posts succeed. The same goes for political parties. But our party officials tend to represent the average population, or perhaps not even that.

Jahn represents the elite. He is well-educated, speaks foreign languages, knows how to dress and behave decently, and has a successful professional career behind him. He doesn’t see the world through ideological glasses. He is exactly the kind of guy the Czech political scene has been missing. He will force ODS (the Civic Democrats) to find someone similar, someone on the same level. That’s good news for everybody. The only people unhappy about Jahn entering the political race are partisan observers who think that everything that’s good for ČSSD is bad for the country.



Very quietly, and almost without comment from the press, legislation is being drafted that would place all financial regulators under one umbrella – the central bank. The legislation would make the Czech National Bank (ČNB) responsible for the supervision of securities and exchange commissions, insurance regulators and loan cooperatives.

This is good news. Our central bank’s independence is guaranteed by the constitution; it is financially independent of the government, and can pay its experts better than the government pays its bureaucrats.

When the previous president was in office, the ODS and Vaclav Klaus opposed giving greater powers to the central bank. But now Klaus is in charge, there are no objections to a powerful central bank. The transition seems to be going unexpectedly smoothly; hopefully, we won’t have any unpleasant surprises when parliament gets hold of the legislation.


Professor president

President Vaclav Klaus has started teaching a course called “the principles of economic thinking” at Prague’s School of Economics (VŠE). Klaus has never admitted that he made any mistakes as prime minister in charge of the economic transition; it will be interesting to see whether his students challenge his record, and how well they do in the course. Will they bring up questions about voucher privatization, capital market regulation, or Klaus’ opposition to the deregulation of rents and bank privatization? Klaus’ infamous mistakes have become part of the world’s economics textbooks. But there’s only room for 30 students in the class; it’s possible that those with the courage to challenge him have already been weeded out and he’ll be left with a classroom of the faithful.

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