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The Czech-Slovak decoupling?

The Czech-Slovak decoupling?

25.9.2012 9:09

The poor performance of the Czech economy at this point is hardly attributable to the euro-crisis. Czech exports are faring extremely well, whereas Czech households are experiencing the greatest decline in consumption in modern history. Such a rapid cut in household consumption did not even occur after the fall of Lehman Brothers, when the global economy survived its ‘clinical death’.

At first glance, the Slovak economy is faring much better; however, regional comparisons are not always quite fair. While the Slovak economy is growing much more rapidly, this is due to its even better export performance and the greater weight of foreign trade in its overall GDP, rather than only due to domestic demand. The rate of Slovak exports is almost double, while household consumption, just like in the Czech Republic, is also falling (albeit much less).

Also, Slovakia’s unemployment rose higher during the crisis and remains higher (around 13%) than that of the Czech Republic. The difference between Czech unemployment and Slovak unemployment is close to eight-year highs, and there is evidently little left out of Slovakia’s export-driven growth for Slovak consumers. Retail sales in the Czech Republic are falling even more rapidly than in Slovakia, because of a more rapid consolidation of Czech public budgets; however, Slovakia will also need to tackle its budget consolidation in the end.

Thus, from this point of view, there are no major differences between the Czech and Slovak economies. The question to ask is not whether or not Czechs or Slovaks would deserve to grow faster. It is now much more about the quality of reforms and their mid-term benefits that financial markets are calling for.


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