Digest

“Viktor doesn’t allow it”

Budapest this week…

This week in oligarchy

Bloomberg, Reuters and the Financial Times have all (at last) reported on the USD 1 billion corruption scandal at the foundations of the Hungarian central bank spending approx. 1% of the country’s GDP on art, real estate, and financing the chairman’s many cousins – and government bonds.

A 189-year-old confectionery, Ruszwurm, has also found itself in the way of the central bank’s real estate frenzy. The tiny (but renowned) business is located in the Castle district – where the government and the central bank envisions their royal ambitions unfold. It must go.

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Ruszwurm was founded in 1827 and survived two world wars and communism – but not the ambitions of a neo-feudalist Fidesz

In international celebrities making deals with local oligarchs

Jamie Oliver has finally blessed Budapest with one of his pasta places. It is located in the above mentioned Castle district which is now the heirloom of Orbán’s oligarchs. Not surprisingly, Oliver has teamed up with one of them. But worry not, it won’t be too pricey for impoverished locals. Hungarians get a discount on the pasta on weekdays if they register on the restaurant’s website. Because double standards…

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In retail

Hungary’s richest man and owner of OTP Bank Sándor Csányi has considered buying the entire Eastern European business of the ailing UK retailer Tesco, sources at his bank have confirmed. His plan was cancelled by PM Orbán, who didn’t want to antagonize the new Polish government by hurting their nationalist-protectionist sensibilities of late.

In servility

Another ambition stalled by a word from Orbán is that of President János Áder’s re-election next May. “Viktor doesn’t allow it” said an old Christian Democrat MP to his colleague in front of cameras referring to Áder’s re-election. (The president is supposed to be elected by parliament but never mind. The king won’t let it.) When reminded of the presence of cameras the old man confidently dismissed them because “they can’t record that much sound” from a few meters distance. This is what you get when you hand pick old but confident bigots for MP.

The reason for Orbán’s ire is that Áder didn’t let the central bank’s spending to be made confidential – but sent the law to the constitutional court instead (first glitch). The Court then unexpectedly said ‘no’ (second glitch) – not to the foundations’ spending but that it could be kept secret. And thus ensued the latest corruption scandal.

In bizarre ass-kissing

When quizzed about his boss, György Matolcsy, on a government-friendly TV channel, a central bank employee, Csaba Lentner said that Matolcsy’s spending is to serve the ideological purposes of the Orbán-government and to create an army of economists, who are past neoliberalism and more into central planning and strong state. When pressed, he went into a ridiculous rant of praise on every available media, calling his boss a saint, saying that he “is writing himself into history for centuries” and that statue should be put up for Matolcsy. “If not next week but sooner or later.

Matolcsy’s intellectual ammunition keeps Hungary’s GDP in motion

When confronted by the fact that the infamous foundations didn’t even have public procurement tenders to spend that USD 1 billion of public money. Lentner just said: “When you work you can make mistakes.”

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He also said that “I’ve been in the intellectual aura of György Matolcsy for twenty years.” The task for future historians is clearly to figure out what exactly intellectual aura stands for in this context. Lentner has also revealed that he finds efficient elements also in the socialist planned economy.

The Hungarian model from after 1968 is not far from me.

In science

Gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces are the four fundamental forces known to physics — but researchers have made many as-yet unsubstantiated claims of a fifth. A laboratory experiment in Hungary has spotted an anomaly in radioactive decay that could be the signature of such a fifth fundamental force. (Nature) Good news is that it is not the Force of Law – as political elites around the world  tend to assume.

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