Commentary

Media, Banking, Energy, and Retail

PM Orbán notoriously avoids media outlets that have not been bought by one of his oligarchs (yet) but he’s surprisingly candid and says the most awful things when he’s among friends: Like his regular oration at his party’s annual Transylvanian picnic – which gave us the infamous “illiberal nation” quote – and now in Poland where he received the man of the year award at the Krynica Economic Forum.

So he shared his views on the economy: 

„There are four sectors where national capital must grow above international one. These are the media, the banks, energy, and retail. We are done with the first three, but the fourth had proven to be difficult. Unfortunately retail chains are cleverer than us. (But) a few more years and we’ll complete this one too.”

PM Viktor Orbán, September 2016

He was referring to the fact that his strongmen are buying up every media outlet in Hungary, that they have special taxed and fined foreign banks until some of them have given up, that they have re-nationalized energy companies and pushed out every last private shareholder, and that they have come up with a range of farcical micro regulations (and special taxes, naturally) to disadvantage foreign-owned retail chains.

Some retail chains have, however, have turned to European courts and scored a victory in 2015. But an autocrat cannot afford such a blemish on his rule. As Orbán’s right hand man put it: You may have fought off this one but our intention is clear. And we will come for you ultimately.

I dare you to open a grocery store in Hungary…

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5 thoughts on “Media, Banking, Energy, and Retail

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