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Czech Watch - 5 September 2001

5.9.2001 10:33

The Czech current account showed a deficit of CZK 21.5bn (USD 548.2m) in 2001Q2, while the financial account was in a surplus of CZK 31.3bn (USD 797.2m). CNB international reserves (excluding valuation changes) rose by CZK 12.9bn (USD 329.4m). According to the CNB’s estimate, the current account deficit based last four quarters´ results was 5.2% of GDP. The current account deficit deteriorated by CZK 7.4bn compared with 2000Q2, largely due to a worsening balance of incomes and unrequited transfers. The trade balance ended in a deficit of CZK 25.5bn (after CZK -24.2bn in 2000Q2), when exports grew by 14.4 % year-on-year and imports by 13.7 %. FDI account recorded a capital inflow of CZK 53bn. Approximately 27% of the inflow were due to revenues from privatization. The foreign investors came to the Czech Republic chiefly from EU countries and their favorite target branches were transport and telecommunications, trade, sale of real estate and estate agency services, electricity, gas and water supply, and financial intermediation and insurance. Manufacturing accounted for 13.5% of the total volume of FDI in 2001Q2. “Other investment” saw an outflow of funds abroad of CZK 31.9bn, primarily due to commercial banks (around CZK 25bn), which increased their short-term deposits with foreign banks and reduced their activities in the area of medium-term and long-term credits provided to non-residents, owing to repayments of earlier provided loans.

The U.S. human rights watchdog Freedom House (FH) says in its latest annual report on the developments in post-communist countries that democracy in the Czech Republic has turned worse. According to FH, it seems that NATO membership and the vision of EU-membership is the only force that pushes the Czech Republic to stick to democratic norms. FH namely criticized the joint CSSD and ODS effort to push through a bill that would have in fact blocked small parties´ access to the parliament, as well as attempts of the two parties to restrict powers of the president and the independence of the CNB. FH also registered problems with law enforceability, free access to information, and corruption.

The Czech pension funds raised their profits 29 % year-on-year, to CZK 815m in 2001H1. The funds showed both growing assets (now CZK 44.9bn) and a rising number of clients (now 2.46m). 8 of the 17 pension funds have around 80 % of all clients.

The Ministry of Finance announced that an arbitration court in London which dealt with the dispute between Ronald Lauder and the Czech Republic rejected all of Lauder's claims to a compensation for damages. "The arbitration court found the Czech Council for Radio and TV Broadcasting RRTV did nothing that would be against the Czech-US agreement on investment protection at a time after the licence was granted to CET 21," quoted CTK the Ministry.

The Czech crown firmed against euro on Tuesday, boosted by a weaker euro/dollar and positive first half balance of payments data. The CZK/EUR was at 34.10/13 in late day trading after closing at 34.18/21 on Monday. The crown/dollar was down at 38.45/47 from 37.68/70 late on Monday.

Bond prices mostly dipped yesterday. The state 6.95/16 fell 30bps to 101.70/00, yielding 6.76/72 %. The state 6.75/05 bond lost 10bps to 101.80/10, yielding 6.14/04 %. Balance of payments data had little impact on the bond market. Among corporate bonds, the CEZ 8.75/04 suffered the highest loss: 22bps.

Late on September 4 bond yield Late on September 3
State 6.75/05101.80/106.14/04101.90/20
State 6.95/16101.70/006.76/72102.00/30

(Martin Kupka)

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