List of issues

Contents of issue 7-8/2011

Janusz Sawicki - Debt Reduction in the Eurozone, abstract, article

Jacek Szlachta, Janusz Zaleski - Socioeconomic Development Programs for Macroregions, abstract, article

Tadeusz Misiak, Tomasz Tokarski, Robert W. Włodarczyk - Convergence or Divergence of Polish Job Markets, abstract, article

Violetta Korporowicz - Health as a Socioeconomic Category, abstract, article

Jakub Górka - ATM Network Development in Poland and ATM Interchange and Surcharge Fees, abstract, article

Anna Horodecka - Economic Policy Objectives in Various Methodological Approaches in Economics, abstract, article


Tomasz Kuszewski - Twenty Years On, abstract, article


Book Review: Jan L. Bednarczyk (ed.), Finansowe determinanty wzrostu w gospodarce globalnej (The Financial Determinants of Growth in the Global Economy),, Warsaw 2010, 301 pp. - reviewed by Marek Lubiński

Book Review: Anna Bąkiewicz, Strukturalne aspekty rozwoju gospodarczego. Doświadczenia azjatyckie (The Structural Aspects of Economic Growth: Asian Experience), Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, Warsaw 2010, 280 pp. - reviewed by Piotr Ważniewski

Book Review: Marian Strużycki (ed.), Przedsiębiorstwo. Region. Rozwój (Enterprise, Region, Development), Difin, Warsaw 2011, 264 pp. - reviewed by Jacek Brdulak


The Challenges of Using Free and Open-Source Software in Polish Businesses - Katarzyna Bachnik

Janusz Sawicki - Debt Reduction in the Eurozone

When the Greek crisis exploded in the spring of 2010 the eurozone countries collected funds to refinance Greece’s debt in order to stave off a banking crisis. Later Ireland and Portugal asked for similar eurozone assistance. Because refinancing (bailout) was not sufficient to enable these peripheral countries to solve their debt problems, they agreed to implement austerity programs so that they could use eurozone countries’ public funds. But these austerity measures, even if politically affordable, will not suffice.
It is exceedingly possible that the peripheral countries will not outgrow their problems and will be unable to return to capital markets at their pre-crisis levels. Their debt-to-GDP as well as debt services-to-income ratios are likely to grow and additional debt reorganization programs including debt reduction (haircut) will be required. At the heart of the issue is the potential impact of a reduction of the peripheral economies’ debt on the monetary financial institutions of all European Union countries. As a result of the restructuring and partial debt reduction, banks may need to receive public support.
To address these problems a new solution in the form of the European Stability Mechanism (EMS) has been proposed. It is expected to change the way in which the eurozone functions. However, the EMS idea is based on the same philosophy as the existing bailout instruments. It does not address the equal treatment and moral hazard issues, while the conditionality programs proposed so far have not softened the adverse impact of the growing debt burden on the economic performance of the debt-laden countries.
The entire European Union financial system is at risk and remains vulnerable as long as the refinancing mechanisms are not supported by debt restructuring and reduction. Debt managers do not seem to know how to draw on past experience and so ad hoc measures prevail. To effectively manage that kind of debt reorganization, the European Union should create the necessary procedures to efficiently address the economic future of all heavily indebted economies. The EU should also be prepared politically to accept the costs of debt reduction or of a fundamental reorganization of the eurozone.

Keywords: sovereign debt crisis, bailout, debt reduction, eurozone, peripheral countries
Article: PDF

Jacek Szlachta, Janusz Zaleski - Socioeconomic Development Programs for Macroregions

The article focuses on a new approach to socioeconomic development in Poland and the European Union. Special macroregional programs have been adopted for the 2007-2013 period in the EU in connection with the bloc’s territorial cohesion policy. A total of 13 macroregions have been identified, including two covering Poland—the Baltic Sea region and Central and Eastern Europe.
The methodology used in the article is based on an analysis of both Polish and EU documents, the authors say. On this basis, Szlachta and Zaleski identified the problems that need to be resolved to take full advantage of the potential of socioeconomic programs in Poland and the EU as a whole. After 2013, the macroregions are expected to play a greater role in the European cohesion policy. Since the local government reform in Poland on Jan. 1, 1999 and the country’s entry to the European Union on May 1, 2004, socioeconomic development has been pursued in Poland not only at the national but also at the provincial level. This model, however, has not made it possible to effectively deal with supra-provincial and interregional problems, according to the authors. A pioneering project for the 2007-2013 period is a Strategy for the Socioeconomic Development of Eastern Poland Through 2020, which covers the five poorest provinces in the country, Lubelskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Świętokrzyskie, and Warmińsko-Mazurskie. The strategy became the basis for a special European Union operational program for eastern Poland for the 2007-2013 period. In the article, Szlachta and Zaleski discuss experiences and conclusions resulting from this projectin the context of the conditions shaping regional policy in Poland and across the European Union.
These conditions have changed substantially in recent years, according to the authors. In 2010, local governments in five Polish provinces, Dolnośląskie, Lubuskie, Opolskie, Wielkopolskie, and Zachodniopomorskie, decided to start working on a strategy for western Poland. At the same time, the Polish Ministry of Regional Development, in cooperation with local governments in the eastern provinces, launched work to update the strategy for eastern Poland. In the final section of the article, the authors discuss the ways in such programs could be used to stimulate Poland’s socioeconomic development.

Keywords: socioeconomic development, regional policy, macroregions, territorial cohesion, European Union
Article: PDF

Tadeusz Misiak, Tomasz Tokarski, Robert W. Włodarczyk - Convergence or Divergence of Polish Job Markets

The authors employ statistical analysis to determine if Poland’s regional and local job markets are subject to convergence or divergence in macroeconomic terms. The article analyzes selected labor market variables such as productivity at the regional level, real wages and the unemployment rate. The analyses are based on data from the website for the 2002-2009 period and for the 2002-2007 period in the case of labor productivity.
The authors examine the main theoretical aspects of the processes of real convergence and divergence. They present statistical analyses of unconditional s - and b-convergence at the regional and local levels using panel data. The article ends with a summary and a set of conclusions.
The research carried out by the authors reveals that none of the analyzed labor market variables, at either the local or regional levels, was subject to s-convergence throughout the analyzed period, but in specific sub-periods both convergence and divergence processes were observed. The convergence equations estimated by the authors show that only the unemployment rate was subject to b-convergence in both regional and local terms. In the analysis at the regional level, a divergence of real wages was observed in 15 provinces, with Mazovia province being the only exception nationwide. In turn, the research did not confirm that there is a divergence of wages at the county level, the authors note. In the analyzed period, labor productivity at the regional level was not subject to either b-convergence or divergence.

Keywords: labor market, labor productivity, unemployment, wages, convergence, divergence
Article: PDF

Violetta Korporowicz - Health as a Socioeconomic Category

The article looks at the issue of public health understood as an important factor of production. The author also analyzes the impact of the population’s health on economic growth.
Korporowicz discusses a variety of approaches to public health, with a particular emphasis on a socioeconomic approach. She highlights the economic aspect of health as a component of human capital that creates the basis for examining living conditions and socioeconomic development.
Health also needs to be evaluated for the purposes of economic calculations in the area of health protection policies, the author says. Such evaluations are used to determine the costs of health insurance, for example in the case of car accidents.
The author counters a popular belief that the level of human capital is exclusively associated with education and public spending on education. According to Korporowicz, the health status of the population influences the level of human capital, while healthcare needs to be treated as a major socioeconomic category. Health is a resource that is subject to wear and can be enhanced and partly replenished by adequate investment. It plays an increasingly important role in the structure of production. Without it, uninhibited economic growth is impossible, the author argues.
Korporowicz sets out to prove that health and healthcare can be analyzed in terms of the theory of public goods. Health is an asset that can be used in a specific way, the author says, but its benefits cannot be directly accessed through the market; nor is health subject to competition because the more health there is among individuals, the more society benefits as a whole. This is what sets public goods apart from private goods, which means that the idea of analyzing health on the basis of the public goods theory is justified, the author argues.
It needs to be assumed that economic growth is impossible without a healthy and efficiently functioning innovative and creative society, Korporowicz adds. In modern economies, economic efficiency strongly depends on the intellectual potential and health of the population, the author concludes.

Keywords: public health, human capital, public goods
Article: PDF

Jakub Górka - ATM Network Development in Poland and ATM Interchange and Surcharge Fees

The article sets out to assess the development of Poland’s network of automated teller machines (ATMs) after a series of reductions in ATM interchange fees in the Visa and MasterCard systems in 2010. The author aims to determine how these reductions have influenced the development of the country’s cash dispenser network and analyzes whether or not ATM owners should be allowed to impose special surcharges on cash withdrawals under law. Moreover, based on empirical research conducted in 2010 and 2009, the author estimates the savings for consumers and banks resulting from the use of ATMs. Thanks to cash dispensers, consumers save time, while banks and the economy as a whole save money, Górka notes.
The research makes use of foreign market experience, especially that gained in the United States, and of theoretical models developed in various research reports. The specific features of the Polish market are also taken into account. The author outlines the advantages and disadvantages of ATM surcharges, pointing out that, under the current economic conditions in Poland, following the interchange fee reductions, passing laws regulating the permissibility of surcharges would be beneficial to the development of the country’s ATM network, especially in rural areas and small towns. The development of the ATM network benefits both consumers and banks, the author says.
Poland is a country in which cash payments continue to dominate and consumers need to have access to banknotes and coins, while cash dispensers are a relatively cheap channel of distributing cash, Górka says.
Based on macroeconomic data for 2009, the author estimates that Polish consumers saved 22.4 million hours that year by withdrawing cash in ATMs instead of at bank branches, which means that the average consumer and bank product user saved 1 hour. The total cost savings of the Polish economy from the use of ATMs stood at 1.63 billion zlotys (about 400 million euros). The estimated cost savings for banks were 1.34 billion zlotys (around 340 million euros), according to Górka.
An analysis of the Polish market data shows that the reductions in the interchange fees collected from ATM cash withdrawal transactions have directly led to a sharp decline in the profitability of the ATM business for banks and independent ATM deployers, who have recently been the main driving force behind the development of the ATM network in Poland.
In the case of Poland, the possibility of charging special ATM transaction convenience fees does not necessarily mean that such fees will be charged to consumers, while they would help stimulate the market, according to the author. At the moment, interchange fees are low, Górka says, which discourages both banks and independent ATM deployers from investing in the development of the ATM network despite consumer expectations.

Keywords: automated teller machines, ATM, cash, payment card, interchange fee, surcharge fee
Article: PDF

Anna Horodecka - Economic Policy Objectives in Various Methodological Approaches in Economics

The article aims to define and classify economic policy objectives according to the methodological approach on which they are based. This is a significant issue that fills a gap in existing research, according to the author. Attempts to define economic policy objectives are often made at random; researchers in countries such as Germany usually limit themselves to listing such objectives, Horodecka says, while research reports in English-speaking countries tend to focus on the practical aspects of economic policy.
The author discusses different methodological approaches to economic policy making. The adopted method of analysis makes it possible to determine the most important features of economic policy depending on the approach adopted.
The author classifies and defines economic policy objectives depending on the methodological approach adopted. She identifies the following approaches in the context of economic policy objectives: a normative approach, focusing on economic prosperity; a positive approach, based on growth and stability as the functions of the economic system; and a descriptive approach, focusing on objectives actually pursued by economic policymakers in specific countries.
The analysis resulted not only in defining and classifying economic policy objectives, but also in determining the advantages and disadvantages of individual approaches. This critical review of the existing methods points to the superiority of the descriptive approach, Horodecka concludes.

Keywords: economic policy objectives, definition, economic methodology
Article: PDF

Tomasz Kuszewski - Twenty Years On

This article aims to identify the main characteristics of two leading Polish economic journals, Ekonomista and Gospodarka Narodowa. The journals are examined in terms of content based on a comprehensive review of articles published from 1990 to 2009.
The statistical analysis involved research methods and results discussed in articles appearing in the journals, with the topics divided according to a classification proposed in the Journal of Economic Literature. Moreover, the analysis focused on the topics covered by the authors depending on the geographical area and the authors’ affiliation. The comparisons were made for the entire period of 1990-2009 and for a series of two-year sub-periods.
The analysis identified the key topics covered by the authors and traced the evolution of the research methods. Both periodicals have changed over the past 20 years, the author concludes, with a rapid increase in the proportion of articles in which researchers use statistical and econometric tools to more effectively prove their hypotheses.

Keywords: Ekonomista, Gospodarka Narodowa, Journal of Economic Literature, subject matter, comparative analysis
Article: PDF

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