Aftershocks in Polish politics

Last Sunday Poland chose new president, 43 years old Andrzej Duda, who was unknown to Poles six months ago. But with the support of the main opposition party he did win. The third in the race was a rock star Pawel Kukiz. Two weeks later, Kukiz shows up in ranking and the most trustworthy politician and his new party comes second in opinion polls, PiS with 36 percent, Kukiz with 25 percent, ahead of ruling PO with 20 percent.

During the first two years of PO ruling I believed they wanted to change the country for the better. I advised four ministers in PO government and coauthored many strategic documents. But it was all fake, PO leadership did not care. I soon understood that there will be no real reforms, that it is only about the power and nepotism. I wrote more than 200 articles in Polish newspapers and one book warning about PO government, including the worst finance minister in the history of Poland, you know who. Nobody listened, or very few. Then the tapes came out and people found out the real face of PO. And finally, the nation woke up and gave PO the thumbs down.

Of course PO will fight, they are scared that the truth about Smolensk will see the daylight, as five members of the ZEN wrote in the article in Rzeczpospolita in the first anniversary of the tragedy.

But it is the past. Hopefully villains will be prosecuted and punished. But the more important is the future. Every change begins with hope, that new elites will create new, powerful vision of Poland, that meets the aspirations of the nation. PiS has managed to create a strong group of experts, many of them young, well educated, who have been discussing the future of Poland in the past few years and designing new reform, under the brand Polska Wielki Projekt . So ideas are ready, team is prepared. As we all know the most important year is 2016, first year after elections. Later, starting from 2018 demographic tsunami will hit Poland hard, so reforms will have to be fast and well designed.

Lets hope the new elites after winning 2015 presidential and general elections  will use their window of opportunity wisely. Polish nation should no longer hear the PO narrative that our biggest chance are handouts from Brussels. Our biggest strength should be powerful vision and leadership, our talent, our entrepreneurship DNA developed in the past 500 years and our resolve to become the great nation that we once were.

The time has come. Now or never.

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Poland and Europe after presidential elections

Think about it. Country is growing at 3,5 percent, jobs are created, billions of euros are puring into new highways, sidewalks and various handouts, eurocratic propaganda is in full swing, mainstream media shout “we love EU” louder than German capos in German death camps, and yet Poles have chosen the eurosceptic president.

Think about it again. What does it say about the modern model of the European Union? Why nation after nation reject the power of banksters emanating from Brussels and Frankfurt? Why millennia-old policy of “bread and circuses” stopped working? Is frozen bread not tasty anymore? Is circus  – let’s fine the bankster equivalent of his monthly profit – boring?

Political spring is coming in Europe: Poland, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Greece, Hungary, …

 

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Higher education in the 21st century

Below is my speech prepared for the Astana Economic Forum.

Higher Education in the 21t Century: The Quest for Talent

Higher education model in the 19th century can be described in a simplified way as follows. Professor meets high students in  the classroom and shares his wisdom with them during the lecture.  They listen, take notes and memorize. As sponge absorbs water, their brains absorb knowledge. Then they are tested how much they memorized. The best student is the one that memorized most. In symbolic words in 19th century higher education model universities taught students what is the “hammer” and how it is built.

In the 20th century some universities understood that this 19th century model was wrong. Many graduates found that this theoretical knowledge they memorized was of little use in the real life. So universities started to change, they investigated what competences were necessary on the labor market and they designed curricula in such a way, that students could acquire these competences during the education process. Competences included knowledge, skills and attitudes. Graduates of these universities were competent and they could find good jobs, make good money and have good life. In other words, universities not only taught how the hammer is build, but also that it can be used to hammer nails, and how to use the hammer efficiently. Employers were happy, they no longer had to spent time and money teaching new young workers how to use the hammer, they already knew it. And graduates of best universities could even use hammers more efficiently then the employers themselves.

Towards the end of the 20th century and in the 21t century we all understood that it is not enough. Countries develop and prosper when young generation is curios, creative, innovative and as a result creates new business models, new innovative products and services that be sold on the global market.  So best universities once more redesigned their curricula. Now the goal is not to form a proper set of competences but to help students to find their talent.  Every young person has a talent, but very few people are able to discover it and have successful professional career based on this discovered talent. Someone can have a talent to become a great salesman, but he would not know it if he never tried to sell anything. Someone may have a talent to become a great and famous speaker, but he will not know it he never tried to speak in public. So the modern 21st century university curricula are designed in such a way, that students do have the opportunity to find their talents and develop them. In symbolic terms we no longer teach students how to use the hammer, but how to invent new tools, much more efficient that the hammer. And if some student strengths are not related to the usage of the hammer we no longer teach them how to use it, but try to develop their natural strengths. This is how the quest for talent in the 21st century has started.

We have around 600,000 students in Kazakhstan. In the next couple of years they will begin their professional life. If we offer them 19th century style education, we will have 600,000 young people who learned theory and will have problems finding jobs. If we offer them 20th century style education, they will find jobs and perform them well, but little innovation will follow and country development will not meet the aspiration of the Kazakh nation. But if we offer them 21st century style education hundreds of young Kazakhs will transform exiting companies and create many new ones, and the Kazakh economy will thrive. Imagine that only 10 percent of students find their talent and strengths, it will be 60,000. And imagine that only 10 percent of those will use their talent and strengths to create new companies that will succeed in the global market place. It would still mean that 6000 new companies will be created, they will sell their products and services in many countries, they will be listed on stock exchanges across the globe and they will create hundreds of thousands of well paid jobs in Kazakhstan. Would it not be good for the country, for the future of the Kazakhstan?

This is the path we have chosen at the New Economic University, known in Kazakhstan as Narhoz. In order to help students to find their talent and strengths we no longer require them to write their diploma thesis in a form of a long paper. We invite them to form teams and work on real projects that we source from university business partners. We encourage students to come up with new business ideas and if they are good we offer to students access to vast network of entrepreneurs cooperating with our business incubator, so that new, innovative companies can be created. To give student access to best ideas on the global scale we now incorporate MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by world best universities to our curriculum, so that student can listen to world best professors and be inspired by them. The meeting between students and our professors is no longer a lecture, when student memorize the course. Professors are now coaches and mentors of students and help them develop new ideas, help them find their strengths and talent.

What is necessary to make this quest for talent process more efficient? Best universities in Kazakhstan need more freedom to design their curricula. Kazakhstan needs new and more diversified programs that will be offered to students. Kazakhstan needs more business practitioners to participate in the education process. Kazakhstan needs that official bachelor and master degree requirements recognize that multiple choice testing was good in 19th century education model, but is not suitable for 21st century higher education model. Imagine that you have a horse, a dolphin and a monkey and you give them the same standardized test, to climb a tree. One should not be surprised that monkey passes this test with ease, but horse and a dolphin will fail this test.  But if you ask the dolphin to swim fast, and a horse to run fast, they will perform with excellence.

I have worked in many countries across the globe. And I can say that Kazakh students that I met at our university are among the best talented in the world. They are smart, creative, full of energy. If we create a proper environment so that their talents are discovered and developed they will thrive and prosper, and with them the whole nation will prosper as well.

This should be our mission.

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Can cows fly – or have central bankers forgotten their economics 101

In the special issue of Emerging Markets magazine on the occasion of EBRD annual meetings there is an article of mine about 21st century central banking. Link is here.

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First UK, then Poland

After major surprise in UK, where conservatives staged a massive victory despite opinion polls pointing to a more balanced outcome now Poland delivers similar surprise. Conservative-patriotic  candidate for president that consistently came second in opinion polls won first round ahead of ruling president, representing liberal and eurocratic faction.

When Hungary turns its back on the 21 century European order, it is a small event, as Hungary is a small country. But when the same happens in large countries, such as UK and Poland, it signals a major political change in Europe.

There are more developments that draw attention. New, anti-regime parties are born from scratch and score big. Spain and Italy were examples where professor or comedians can take leading positions in opinion polls or win elections. But these were countries in deep crisis. But when the same happens in Poland, where rock star, Pawel Kukiz, with help of young volunteers, scores 20 percent in presidential elections, it is a much more powerful signal. Even in countriers that have strong economy, people reject the 21st century European order, imposed by banksters and eurocrats.

New European order is coming.

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Conservatives on the rise in Europe

Conservative party staged a massive victory in UK general elections, winning majority in the parliament. But second biggest winner is Scottish nationalistic party, that won 56 seats, 50 more than before. There are two major implications of this vote: there will be a referendum of UK membership in the European Union and most likely second referendum on Scotland departure from the United Kingdom.

Conservatives win has far reaching implication for the eurozone monetary policy and for the ECB. If eurozone crisis deepens, triggered by Greek default and eurozone departure, it may increase the odds of UK leaving the Union. So there will be massive political pressure on Mario Draghi to do more than whatever it takes to keep growth momentum in the eurozone.

Interestingly, opinion polls gave a a different picture, predicting more balanced outcome. Let’s see whether this bias is confirmed also in Polish presidential elections on Sunday. The wave of conservatism is sweeping across Europe, people say no to immigration, no to eurocrats in Brussels, no to the vision of common Europe whose ruling elites rejects national and family values.

New Europe emerges in 21st century. It will be different than the one we know.

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Competences of student graduating from economics department

We are implementing the competences framework at the New Economic University, where I am a new rector.

In my life I hired and fired tens of economists in various banks, government institutions, consulting firms and at the university. So I approached the task of defining competences (knowledge, skills, attitudes) of university graduating economist (bachelor) in the following way: what competences the economist should have so that I will decide to hire him/her as my team member. The results are below:

Knowledge

1. Can read and understand scientific papers in Kazakh/English or Russian/English (depending on chosen language of study) including scientific papers that apply formal (mathematical) economic models. Can apply formal economic models in real life problems, including problems in global, regional, national, government, firm and household dimensions. Understands the shortcomings of economic models and is able to select right model to solve given real life problem

2. Is able to use economic models and professional programs to analyze economic data on international, macro and micro scale. Can verify the quality of economic data, knows how to find reliable sources of quantitative economic data, works well with qualitative economic information, is able to use economic models to find regularities in economic data, is able to make professionals forecasts and understands the sources of forecast errors and implications of such errors.

3.  Is able to read economic and financial press and can explain the phenomena presented in such press using economic models.

 Skills

1. Can write scientific papers that use economic models, can write essays in the field of economics that explain complex economic problems in simple, non-technical text that can be understood by readers that do not have formal economic training.

2. Can defend the results of his/her economic analysis before fellow economics (during seminars or conferences), can present results of his/her economic analysis to different types of audiences (e.g. business professionals, fellow economists, people from other fields) such that results of his research can be understood and appreciated.

3. Uses modern technologies to conduct professional economic analysis, such as professional analytical programs, Excel, and open source tools. Is able to quickly learn how to use new economic and analytical tools, understands and interprets the results of use of such tools.

Attitudes

1. Regularly reads professional economic literature to continuously upgrade his/her economic knowledge/skills. Understands the importance of regular upgrade of his/her economic knowledge/skills.

2. Naturally analyzes various situations, problems and issues using economic theory and economic analytical skills.

3. Understands the role of economist in various organizations, institutions and situations and never compromises the professional integrity of economist when conducting economic analysis.

I value these competences irrespectively of the field of specialization (macro, micro, labor economics, international economics, knowledge economics etc.).

Comments welcome. Do you agree? Will you define desired economist competences in a different way?

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What I see from a distance of 4000 km

I have been watching developments in Poland from a distance of 4192 kilometers in the past few months. From such distance you can see it differently. Here are some impressions:

- huge domination of negative news and opinions (destructive criticism) as opposed to more balanced news and opinion (constructive criticism)  in other countries.

- shallow debate. Key development issues are ignored, instead both politicians and media focus on short-term popularity gain. It is not the case in other countries, compare for example elections coverage in UK and in Poland.

- themes that divide Poles are all over the place, themes that unite Poles are scarce. Think of the fifth anniversary of the Smolensk tragedy and press coverage. Poles should be together in this sad moment, but media and politicians used this date to tear the nation apart.

Why is it happening? After 25 years of transformation, economic growth and social development, Poland should have a much higher level of development of civic society, social capital, ability to focus on strategic priorities.Or maybe it does not matter. Maybe Poles living in their small comfort zones, furnished with large plasma TVs and celebrity shows do not care, and their small worlds are parallel to what is happening in the public arena.

Meanwhile, I continue the idea of Go Global brand, established by our research team in 2010 (report on innovativeness of Poland, called Go Global), which later mushroomed and now is present at NCBiR Go Global program and Think Tank Poland Go Global. I am working with several Polish companies that have large international presence to establish win-win cooperation with New Economic University, the goal is to help Polish companies expand in Central Asia, while NEU students at the same time have possibility to work on interesting international projects.

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Królowie innowacji w usługach finansowych

W maju ukaże się moja nowa książka pt. Królowie innowacji w usługach finansowych, wydana przez Onepress.

Obiegowa i traktowana niemal jak dogmat opinia o światowych finansach każe nam wierzyć, że Stany Zjednoczone i inne rozwinięte kraje mają w tej dziedzinie monopol na innowacje. Jak zatem wyjaśnić taką oto sytuację, o której w zamieszczonym w tej książce wywiadzie wspomina Wojciech Sobieraj, współtwórca i prezes Alior Banku? Relacjonuje nam typowy obrazek z konferencji poświęconej innowacjom w usługach finansowych: gdy przemawia gość z Polski czy Turcji, sala jest pełna, tymczasem wystąpienia Brytyjczyków czy przedstawicieli innych „wiodących” światowych gospodarek traktowane są jak przerywnik. Dobry moment na wykonanie zaległych telefonów, czy odpisanie na maile…

Polska na ogół wypada źle w ogólnych rankingach innowacyjności w gospodarce. Z jednym wyjątkiem. Twórczy okazuje się rodzimy sektor finansowy. Napisałem tę książkę właśnie po to, by pokazać, jak wiele ciekawych, korzystnych dla klienta rozwiązań pojawia się w sektorze usług finansowych w krajach rozwijających się, szczególnie w Polsce. Ponadto staram się rozwikłać zagadkę: jak do tego doszło i co było kluczowe dla spektakularnych sukcesów polskich przedsiębiorstw z tego sektora?

W książce znajdziecie wywiady z twórcami, właścicielami lub prezesami pięciu firm świadczących usługi finansowe. Nad fenomenem tej szczególnej polskiej innowacyjności zastanawiam się więc wspólnie z Wojciechem Sobierajem (Alior Bank), Mateuszem Morawieckim (BZ WBK), Marcinem Pióro (Cinkciarz.pl), Sławomirem Lachowskim (mBank) oraz Jakubem Zabłockim (XTB). Natomiast rozmowa z Markiem Rosińskim — partnerem zarządzającym kancelarii Baker & McKenzie — pokazuje, co trzeba w Polsce zmienić, aby eksplozja innowacyjności nastąpiła w całej gospodarce.

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Dlaczego piszę?

Jutro w tygodniku DoRzeczy ukaże się pierwszy felieton z cyklu Rybim okiem, pt. “Dlaczego piszę”. Poniżej fragment:

Przeciętni zjadacze chleba z mrożonego ciasta, biernie uczestniczący w codziennych medialnych igrzyskach, wpatrzeni wieczorami w wielocalowy prostokąt, koniecznie większy niż ma sąsiad,  epatowani płytkimi faktami z życia jeszcze płytszych celebrytów znanych z tego że są znani, jakże rzadko zadają sobie pytanie „dlaczego”? Pytanie „dlaczego” jest bardzo ważne w ekonomii. Żeby zrozumieć świat, i globalny i ten mały, który nas otacza na co dzień, musimy umieć odpowiedzieć sobie na pytanie dlaczego ludzie robią to co robią …

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