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Czech Watch - 17 October 2000

17.10.2000 7:20
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The Czech cabinet approved a law that would establish a "Social Insurance", i.e. state off-budget institution that would collect social insurance and pay sickness benefits and pensions. The Insurance is hyped as a start of a pension reform, however, no change in the financing is prepared besides the fact that the state budget should "pay" for non-earners who nevertheless accumulate pension rights (women on maternity leave or men in military service). Possibly, the state budget should also pay for the flat part of pensions (currently roughly 20% of pensions). Thus, the pension system itself will be fine, but the state budget will pick up the bill. And, of course, it is the reform…
The ministry of defense got a go-ahead with a tender to buy super-sonic jets, 24 or 36 of them (it is not clear how they will manage not to crash all the time over the small Czech Republic). The ministry expects the price to be as high as CZK 100 bil. It is more than 5% of GDP and no such money is accounted for in the medium-term fiscal outlook. Probably the surplus from pensions will pay for the jets…
The Czech koruna remains solid, though. As the euro fell below the 0.85 USD/EUR, the koruna quietly gained to 35.30 CZK/EUR. The greenback is back and strong and attacks the 41.50 CZK/USD level.
It was one of busiest day on Czech bond market on Monday. In the very morning prices jumped up by more than a trading spread on longer term bonds, with one market maker buying heavily. However, during the day prices were dropping again, with people surprisingly having some long positions, which they sold luckily on last week's highs. Surprisingly again, close prices do not much differ from Friday closes, so morning purchases did not help the bonds anyway.
Current benchmark prices: MoF 6.75/05 99.25-55 (unchanged), MoF 6.30/07 95.00-30 (-15 bps), MoF 6.40/10 93.50-80 (+5 bps).

(Ondrej Schneider and Dalimil Vyskovsky)


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