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Fears of potential Hungarian default

August 18th, 2022
Economic analysts across the political spectrum comment on opposition suggestions about a looming default.

In an interview with ATV, Lajos Bokros, who served as Minister of Finance between 1995 and 1996 under a Socialist-Liberal government, said that Hungary may default if it does not receive the suspended EU funds. Bokros, who introduced Hungary’s biggest financial restrictions in 1995, laid the blame for  galloping inflation, high public debt and deep poverty at the doorstep of the government.

Magyar Nemzet’s Csaba Szajlai finds Bokros’ suggestions absurd. The conservative economist acknowledges that the Ukraine war and the global energy crisis are huge challenges and recession is a real threat. But the deficit is under control and Hungary has no difficulty in taking market loans, Szajlai notes. In contrast to 2008, when the former government had to turn to the IMF to avert imminent insolvency, this is not a real threat this time round, Szajlai concludes.

On Mozgástér blog, Zoltán Kiszelly also sees Bokros’ prediction as groundless. The pro-government political scientist recalls that since 2010, left-leaning economists have regularly predicted that the Hungarian economy would collapse. Kiszelly adds that China’s CATL company has just announced plans to build a 3,000 billion Forint battery company in Hungary. Kiszelly is also confident that Hungary will eventually get the suspended EU funding.

Népszava’s Miklós Bonta, on the other hand, agrees with Bokros and considers default a real possibility. The left-wing commentator writes that since 2010, despite ‘stellar corruption’ and policy mistakes, the Orbán government has averted an economic crisis thanks to lavish EU funding. Bonta thinks that after S&P’s revision of Hungary’s outlook to negative, higher interest rates may lead to state insolvency in the long run.

On Mérce, Bence Bogatin dismisses Bokros’ suggestion that galloping inflation is the fault of the government. The alt-left columnist points out that Hungary is an open economy and therefore global inflation cannot be kept out of the country. Bogatin goes on to criticize the government for low wages and restrictions – adding that through such policies, the government has already introduced restrictions very similar to those recommended by Lajos Bokros.

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