“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.” The words of Voltaire, which seem to be a rather pessimistic way of looking at optimism. Indeed, dare one say it, an almost Polish approach to optimism, where folk sometimes seem at their happiest dwelling on misfortune.  But I jest, because a recent survey suggests that Poles are more optimistic than pessimistic – at least for now.

According to a survey conducted by CBOS between November 29 and December 9 on a representative group of 942 adult respondents, 47 per cent of Poles are optimistic that the country is moving in the right direction, while 36 per cent are pessimistic about the future. Compared to a similar survey a month ago, the proportion of optimists had shrunk by 6 percentage points, and the number of pessimists risen by 7 points. The number of Poles who think the economy is doing well decreased by four percentage points over the same period.

Back to normal then. Yet there are reasons for optimism, particularly on the economic front. For example, average wages in Poland rose 7.7 per cent in November compared with November 2017, the Central Statistical Office (GUS) announced on Tuesday, with the average Polish monthly wage in November being PLN 4,966.61 (EUR 1,158, USD 1,317). And, based on employers with more than nine employees, employment in Polish businesses increased by three per cent over the year. Overall, unemployment was 5.8 per cent in November, having been at a new 28-year low of 5.7 percent in September.

Industrial production grew by 4.7 per cent in November compared with same month last year, GUS announced on Wednesday, although some 3.6 per cent lower than in October. Output in the construction and assembly sector rose by 17.1 per cent in November on a year on year basis, and 0.3 per cent on a month on month basis. A total of 163,800 new homes were completed in the first 11 months of this year, 2.5 per cent more than in the same period in 2017.

From which it will come as no surprise that the Polish economy is expected to grow by over five per cent this year. According to said Piotr Arak, director of the Polish Economic Institute. “This year was better in terms of the economy than many people and institutions expected,” with both private consumption and public investment having driven growth.

As announced by GU S at the end of last month, the Polish economy grew by   5.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year, prompting Enterprise and Technology MinisterJadwiga Emilewicz to say at the time that macroeconomic data indicates Poland has the fastest-growing economy in the European Union. She added that Poland had stable growth fundamentals, with domestic consumption remaining high and investment figures encouraging.

The public finances are also in good shape. The Polish finance minister said on Tuesday that both the budget deficit and debt are shrinking on the back of efforts to ensure spending discipline and growing tax revenue. “We are maintaining discipline in government expenditure and high growth in tax revenue, thanks to which we are consistently reducing the budget deficit and debt,” Teresa Czerwińska said, as quoted by Poland’s PAP news agency. She said that after the first 11 months of the year, Poland’s budget showed a surplus which was higher than a month earlier. Czerwińska told the PAP news agency that Poland was on track to end 2018 with a general government deficit of around 0.5 per cent of GDP. “Step by step we are building sustainable public finances,” she said.

All of which are reasons for genuine optimism, especially if one looks at what’s happening elsewhere, particularly the UK, where the latest fall-out from the Brexit uncertainty is the projection that the UK’s GDP will fall from fifth to seventh in the world. There may be clouds on the horizon, economic and geo-political, but perhaps, in this season of goodwill, we might end on an optimistic note and look positively to the future.

Thank you for reading in 2018; please continue to do so in 2019. I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

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