|Inflation||(CPI year-on-year, Sep '12, GUS)|
|Unemployment||(claimant rate Sep'12, GUS)|
|GDP growth, latest||(y-o-y Q2 2012, GUS)|
|GDP growth 2011||(GUS)|
|Capital investment growth||(2011, GUS)|
|Retail sales||(y-o-y to Sep '12, GUS)|
|Exports||(H1 2012, GUS - up 1.1% on H1 2011)|
|Imports||(H1 2012, GUS - down 1.9% on H1 2011)|
|Average wages (private sector, monthly gross)||(GUS, Sep '12 - up 1.6% y-o-y)|
3,640.84 PLN (= €875 / £700)
|Statutory Minimum Wage (monthly gross)||(in force since 1 Jan '12, up 7.6% from 2010 )|
1,500.00 PLN (= €360 / £290)
|NBP reference base rate||(last change Nov '12, 25 basis point cut)|
|Industrial output||(year-on-year, Sep '12, GUS)|
As the global economy tipped over the precipice in October 2008, Poland’s economy was in sound enough condition, its forward momentum strong enough to avoid recession. And indeed, in 2009, Poland was the only EU member state to continue showing economic growth. GDP growth for the whole of 2009 was 1.6% higher than in 2008; the economy grew by 3.9% in 2010 and by a further 4.3% in 2011.
Analysts have been expecting growth to slow down throughout this year, yet the announcement that in Q2 2012 GDP grew by a mere 2.4% was a shock. Will Poland escape recession for a second time?
A huge question mark hangs over how much money will be transferred to Poland from Brussels in the form of structural and cohesion funds for the 2014-2020 EU budget perspective. Western European governments, particularly those who've dug deep to bail out the PIIGS, are loath to keep pumping money into an economy that will be the EU's best performer in 2012. Yet Poland expects as much if not more than the €67.3 billion it received in 2007-2013, and is relatively optimistic about that prospect.
Manufacturing output has stumbled after a long run of double-digit growth, mainly driven by exports. Being Germany’s manufacturing outsourcing backyard, Poland’s industrial production is very dependent on Germany's export-led economy. Polish production will feel the pinch, despite a strong domestic market. Consumer spending and capital investment, both private and public, have continued to grow, and show that Poland has a balanced economy. Only 44% of Poland's GDP consists of exports, unlike most of its CEE neighbours, where exports are up to 80-90% of GDP.
Trade figures for the first half of 2012 show that Poland's exports continued to grow, albeit at a slow pace (1.1%), while imports fell back by 1.9%, narrowing Poland's trade deficit.
Inflation is down from May 2011’s alarming high of 5.0% – but is still above the target range of the National Bank of Poland, having hit a low of 2.0% in July 2010. The National Bank of Poland had taken steps to tighten money supply by three consecutive monthly rises in base rates, each of 25 basis points, in April, May and June 2011 followed by another rise in May 2012. In early November 2012, the Monetary Policy Council made a 25 basis-point cut, in response to faltering industrial production and weakening inflationary pressure.
With its low wages, high education levels and nearness to rich Western European markets, Poland has good prospects to keeping its head above water should another recession hit the global economy.
Poland’s largest age cohort will be 28 years old in 2011 (all 690,000 of them!); this is Poland's demographic high-water mark. By contrast, the number of seven year olds is a mere 350,000, the low-water mark. Over the next 15 years, the number of young people entering the labour market will fall by an average of 17,000 a year.
The shock to national accounts of large numbers of post-war baby-boomers hitting pensionable age in the early part of the next decade (65 year-olds born after 1945) will be mitigated by the extremely low number of Poles in pre-pensionable age in the labour market. Only 28% of Poland’s over-55s are economically active (compared to 58% in the UK). The Tusk government is set to raise the retirement age to 67 for men and women, though the legislation will have a tough time through the parliament.
Poland fell faster than in any major economy at any time in peacetime. By October 2008, it was officially 8.8%, though the BAEL measure used by Eurostat had Poland’s unemployment at 6.7% – this excludes those fictitiously registered as unemployed by working in the grey economy. October 2008 marked the lowest point in unemployment in recent years. Compared to Western Europe and the USA, Poland's unemployment is lowest in the cities and highest in rural areas, with more than half of the long-term unemployed living in villages.
Two month later, the first signs of rising joblessness were rapidly becoming apparent. And by February '11 it had jumped from 8.8% to 13.2%, to drift down seasonally by the summer.
What’s curious is that while the number of unemployed rose – so did the number of people at work! From October 2008 to February 2011, registered unemployment rose by nearly 700,000, while the number of people at work rose by over 100,000 in the private sector and some 90,000 in the public sector! One explanation for this curious phenomenon is that a large number of migrant Poles, having lost their jobs during the crisis, have returned home to sign on for unemployment benefit in Poland.
The zloty, which had been rising rapidly in value against the pound, the euro and dollar in the four years since EU Accession, suffered a major depreciation in the aftermath of the October 2008 financial crisis. Between August '08 and February '09, the zloty depreciated by nearly 40% against the euro, making Poland far more competitive for inward investment and for export.
Since then, the zloty bounced back, though not to the unsustainable level of 3.20 zł = € experienced in August 2008. Throughout 2010 and into 2011 the zloty held steady at around the 4.00=€ and 4.50=£ marks. The euro crisis, however, have knocked the steam out of the zloty's stability. The wobbles on the markets caused by the threat of sovereign defaults in the eurozone and Hungary hit the zloty, knocking it back to 4.50=€ and 5.45=£. Since the New Year, however, the zloty has rebounded somewhat stabilising at 4.20=€ and 5.20=£. This slight depreciation is good news for Polish exporters.
Poland is obliged by the terms of its EU Accession Treaty to replace the zloty with the euro. The only questions are when, and at what rate. Its budget deficit remains way above the Maastricht criteria, as such the earliest realistic date for Poland joining the eurozone is 2017-18.
Trade between the two countries has grown consistently over the past 17 years; UK exports to Poland faltered slightly in 2009 before bouncing back strongly in 2010. Indeed, 2011 went on to become the best for bilateral trade ever; the value of trade between the UK and Poland in 2011 (£11.4 billion) was nearly double that for 2007. Poland has a larger trade surplus with the UK than with any other trading partner; Britain is Poland’s second-largest export market (after Germany) and its eighth-largest import source.
, the government's central statistical office, has a small section in English that offers some indicators.Central Bank of PolandEurostat