Croatia must think small

My new piece for the FT:

Croatia is struggling. Set to become the the second former Yugoslav Republic to join the European Union in just five weeks’ time (after Slovenia, which joined in 2004), Croatia has been in recession since 2009, despite being blessed with more than 4,300 km of often stunning coastline and a hinterland rich with fertile soil.

Guest post: Croatia must free its SMEs

Beyond the Eurocrisis: Is More Democratic Governance the Solution for Europe?

My new piece for HuffPost:

Between East and West, there is already a middle way of sort. The European Union is halfway both in terms of governance and geography, combining multi-party democracy of the European nation-states, joint and partly governed by a pan-European bureaucracy that, it can be argued, has some meritocratic features. Yet, this system suffers from fractionalized authority that, rather than enabling effective governance by a meritocratic bureaucracy mandated by leadership of popular legitimacy, results in tension over authority between the pan-European bureaucracy and the popularly elected representatives of separate European nations. This, in turn, results in a reluctant and populist-driven national governments’ resistance to strengthening European institutions, while these institutions are reduced from a strategic planner to a crisis-manager of last resort.

Read more here.

When governments have their own version of things: Slovenia crisis continued

After Moody’s downgraded Slovenia immediately before the new government’s first international bond issue a few weeks ago, causing government revolt and subsequent threats of a law suit against the rating agency, Fitch followed suit.

As Budapest-based colleague from FT, Kester Eddy, writes for FT beyondbrics:

The latest turn of the screw has come from credit agency Fitch, which cut Slovenia’s sovereign rating to BBB+ from A-, with negative outlook.

[...]

Analysts said the move, which still maintains Slovenia’s investment-grade status (unlike Moody’s downgrade at the end of April), is fair, but would have limited impact.

Link to the article here (FT beyondbrics).

How the crisis in Slovenia will get resolved remains to be seen, though light at the end of the tunnel grows dimmer by the week.

Slovenia: family silver for sale

My quotes in new Financial Times piece on Slovenia:

Cleaning up the bank sector, and quickly, is crucial to kick-starting the economy, says Luka Orešković, head of research at Provectus Capital, a Zagreb-based corporate advisory.

“Slovenia is an industrial country with strong exporting companies that were driving growth. These companies have to start borrowing again, and that needs a sound banking sector, so the state bank bad debt holdings have to be resolved,” he told beyondbrics.

But the timetable, given the task, appears very tight.

[...]

“This is not the first transfer to state banks: the previous [examples] only resulted in a growing percentage of bad debt rather than a reversal of trends. It is of course ideal to privatise them, but amid the uncertainty, this might prove hard,” Orešković says.

Read more here.

Privatization Alternatives From the Baltics, Part 1

An analysis for MT I co-authored with Rimantas Zylius, Lithuanian Minister of Economy ’12 on Lithuanian State Owned Enterprise reform and privatization alternatives analysis. Rimantas managed to turn around Lithuanian SOE’s in just 2 years from loss-generating entities to dividend paying enterprises that in 2012 contributed 150mEUR, equal to 1% of VAT collection per annum, to the state budget.

Take a look: Privatization Alternatives From the Baltics, Part 1

HuffPost: Unlucky Number 13 – Is Slovenia Next in Line for a Bailout?

My new op-ed for the Huffington Post on the underlying issues of the Slovenian economy. As with much of Europe, it’s a primarily political (leadership) crisis.

Take a look: HuffPost Business – Unlucky Number 13, Slovenia

Co-authored with Daniel Wagner, a colleague from Connecticut.

FT’s This is Africa: Mining for a way forward in South Africa

My op-ed for FT’s This is Africa:

As global energy dynamics shift, South Africa must chart the future course of its coal and platinum mining industries

At the December 2012 African National Conference party convention, President Jacob Zuma initiated a comprehensive revision of the government’s mining strategy. As the political leadership starts to rethink how best to leverage South Africa’s resources for the country’s future growth, global energy and technological developments might significantly influence their conclusions.

Link to article

Co-authored with JP Landman, a friend from South Africa and political analyst for Nedbank.

Lider Press Best Financial Journalist 2012 Award

I just won Lider Magazine’s award for best young financial analyst – journalist “Hrvoje Mateljic” for the year of 2012 on behalf of my work for The Moscow Times and the Financial Times. Many thanks to the jury of Lider Magazine that selected my work as well as the editors at MT and FT for publishing my ramblings.

Lider Best Financial Journalist Award “Hrvoje Mateljic” 2012

Moscow Calling: Rostelecom Privatization on the Horizon

New article for the Moscow Times:

Another Russian monopoly could undergo privatization this year. After announcements of plans to sell parts of, among others, the diamond company Alrosa and the country’s second-largest bank VTB, the latter could play a crucial role in the privatization of a stake in Rostelecom, a land line national operator that might soon expand into mobile, boosting its valuation and, consequently, privatization prospects.

Read more

Financial Times: Has populist folly finally come to an end in Slovenia?

My new oped for the Financial Times:

Last week, political change captured headlines globally. Pope Francis took over leadership of 1.2bn Catholics globally, matched by Xi Jinping, with his official ascendance to the presidency over 1.3bn in the People’s Republic of China. In between Beijing and the Vatican (if rather closer to the latter), and somewhat less noticed, the 2m people of Slovenia were also facing a change in government, with the center-right premier Janez Jansa set to be replaced by Alenka Bratušek, the center-left head of Positive Slovenia.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Čufer? The finance minister in-waiting certainly has an opportunity to prove himself the man – but only if he resists the populist temptation and immediately steers Slovenia towards comprehensive economic reforms. Hopefully, Uroš Čufer is that man. Wednesday will tell.

http://on.ft.com/XUbepT