Bogdan C. Enache
Bogdan C. Enache
Political scientist, former business journalist, book reviewer; interested in politics, economics and the art of living
The Emerging Frontier of the Bucharest Stock Market

The Emerging Frontier of the Bucharest Stock Market

Since 2016, The Bucharest Stock Exchange (Bursa de Valori București - BVB) is actively seeking official recognition of emerging market status from the world’s leading providers of stock market services. In fall last year, for instance, BVB entered FTSE Russel’s “Watchlist”, the London Stock Exchange’s research and rating agency shortlist of potential emerging markets, while also being under the consideration of S&P, MSCI and Stoxx. More


The Euro’s Italian Job

The Euro’s Italian Job

Although part of the euro sovereign debt crisis that triggered a double-dip Eurozone recession in 2012 and turned control of public spending – or austerity – into a reverse-keynesian precept for calming the market’s animal spirits, Italy’s conundrum is quite different from that of Greece, Spain, Ireland or Portugal with which the country is often grouped together by financial analysts. More


The Romanian Government’s Underwhelming Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

The Romanian Government’s Underwhelming Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

The Romanian Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has nothing exceptional, no original idea, no single individualized policy, no special or particular focus. If Sweden, no matter how controversial, dared to pursue an individualized strategy of keeping the country open so as to achieve a higher degree of immunity as well as minimize economic loss and social distress, or if Germany implemented a swift search-and-clean infection-cluster policy followed-up by an effective intensive care capacity and real-time viral research, Romania has simply copy-pasted some broad European and World Health Organization lockdown guidelines to stop the contagion risk. There is no active – in some cases even experimental – strategy, no special health care crisis unit, no real-time research and goal-oriented policy – just a rather ridiculously named “Group of Strategic Communication”, made up mostly of police and intelligence officers, which releases some basic statistics concerning the number of people infected, those hospitalized, confined or dead to some press outlets and, with long lags, publishes them on the website of Ministry of Internal Affairs. More


Mihail Manoilescu – Beyond Taboos and Clichés

Mihail Manoilescu – Beyond Taboos and Clichés

Outside Brazil and Romania, Mihail Manoilescu is essentially a forgotten economist, and, even in the latter, when his name is mentioned he is generally taught as a trade or protectionist theorist, although he is a development, growth, trade and industrial planning theorist rolled into one. In the end, he was essentially an implicit macroeconomic theorist at a time when macroeconomics was just being established. What little was assimilated from him by post-war Anglo-Saxon economics happened indirectly and almost by chance, through out-of-the-Paul Samuelson-mainstream economists who – maybe because of his tainted ideological stands, or because of Romania’s fall into obscurity after the establishment of the communist regime – rarely mentioned his name, such as Paul Rosenstein-Rodan’s theory of development traps or Ráoul Prebisch’s theory of commodity dependency cycles, despite the fact that in the 1930s he commanded enormous intellectual and policy influence. Back then, he was as a sort of intellectual icon for the Geneva institutions’ group of less developed economies – the League of Nations’ nascent IMF/World Bank/WTO of the era – against the political economy orthodoxy of the day as well as a regular speaker at Davos-style conferences organised by the far right regimes of António de Oliveira Salazar, Benito Mussolini and also that of Adolf Hitler.  More


New Developmentalism, Old Ideas

New Developmentalism, Old Ideas

The so-called anti-austerity backlash in Romania, led by the now defunct unnatural alliance between the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of eight years ago, has kept the Romanian public on the edge and can even be credited with electoral success, but its actual anti-austerity policies are quite hard to pin down. Despite a lot of angry rhetoric, until 2015 the USL (Social-Liberal Union) government’s fiscal policy basically followed, with minor tweaks, the 2010 much maligned austerity measures put in place after an external financing agreement with international financial institutions. The 2015 tax cuts were basically a Trump-style “neoliberal” supply-side fiscal stimulus that the most leftish, non-PSD aligned, commenters criticized as the climax of post-communist Social-Democratic hypocrisy, surpassing in scale even the 2005 introduction of the flat income tax. It is only in the last year or two that the PSD government has actually strayed from more or less orthodox, even if sometimes ill-timed, fiscal policies, by adopting an ill-designed bank-assets tax, as well as a turnover tax for the energy and telecommunication companies, in order to finance a growing deficit ahead of a major electoral year. Nevertheless, there is actually a heterogeneous group of both Social-Democratic as well as National-Liberal economists that claims to propose a radically different, heterodox, set of economic policies and which has gained considerable influence over policymaking.  More


The Coronavirus Epidemic in Romania: A Government Failure All-Along (I)

The Coronavirus Epidemic in Romania: A Government Failure All-Along (I)

More than two years after the start of the coronavirus epidemic, the real magnitude of the disaster it has wrought in Romania is plain for everyone to see. Although it entered into lockdown as one of the least affected countries, at least according to official statistics, in March 2020, it currently occupies a hard to believe 9th place worldwide in terms of coronavirus deaths per one million inhabitants, one notch above Brazil whose epidemic disaster has received more attention in the world’s media[1]. Furthermore, commonplace stories about rampant vaccine skepticism, anti-scientific thinking and bigotry among the Romanian population obscure the fundamental cause of the catastrophe: a failed government run by even more failed politicians.  More


The Coronavirus Epidemic in Romania: A Government Failure All-Along (II)

The Coronavirus Epidemic in Romania: A Government Failure All-Along (II)

When vaccination began simultaneously in all 27 EU states, in late December 2020, Romania reported for a short while some of the highest figures in the bloc, but it quickly became the second least vaccinated member country. It is now customary to attribute this dismal performance to rampant anti-vaccine sentiment among the Romanian population, even though some survey evidence pointed to more pronounced vaccine skepticism and vaccine hesitancy in Western countries such as France in particular[1]. On closer inspection, however, the finger pointed at anti-vaccine ideas and groups by high government officials in Romania constituted – without denying in the least the deleterious effects of anti-vaccination propaganda and activism – more of an abdication from responsibility which obscures the serious blunders of the government itself in vaccination matters. This was particularly the situation with the much-publicized case of some anti-vaccine Christian Orthodox clergy. For 30 years, many Liberals in the country decried the absence of a government-independent Church, and one was to believe that it emerged all of sudden in the midst of the pandemic! In the end, it was not the spread of anti-vaccine ideas which determined the vaccination rate in a country, but the actions or non-actions of public authorities.  More


In Memory of Romania’s Last King: His Royal Majesty Michael I (1921-2017)

In Memory of Romania’s Last King: His Royal Majesty Michael I (1921-2017)

The life of King Michael I (Mihai I, for Romanians) embodies almost perfectly the tormented and tragic destiny of Romania, his country, in the 20th century. His quiet and reserved personality, almost a monument to stoicism, was testimony to a man who, in the face of great adversity, always tried to do everything right, but in the end to no avail.  More


The European Significance of the War in Ukraine

The European Significance of the War in Ukraine

The all-out war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022, after months of Sitzkrieg (a play on words between blitzkrieg – lightning war – and sitting around) on its North-Eastern borders, is obviously of primordial concern for European security and politics. However, its fundamental significance for the continent’s contemporary political project has not been clearly recognized to date.  More


The Iron Laws of Romanian Politics

The Iron Laws of Romanian Politics

The 26th of May European elections have produced a mixed picture across the European Union, where Eurosceptic, populist or non-mainstream parties have consolidated their gains in some of the largest Member States (such as France, Italy and, for what it is worth, the UK), while suffering losses in some medium sized and small states (such as Romania, the Netherlands and Austria), with no notable change occurring in most countries (such as Poland, Hungary, Sweden or Germany). Still, even a country now hailed as a bulwark against right wing populism, such as Spain, will feature a far-right party in the European Parliament for the first time. More


The Romanian Electoral Spleen

The Romanian Electoral Spleen

The European and presidential elections to be held this year in Romania will be heralded as a turning point, but despite their importance – particularly for the broader European context, where populist parties might tip the political balance – they fall into a familiar post-communist pattern: a battle between a corrupt, populist, but highly effective governmental force and a fragmented, noisy, but often equally tarnished, incompetent and amateurish opposition, not very capable to govern either. Although Romania is usually classified as a relatively new democracy in international political analyses, because of the totalitarian and authoritarian interlude, this pattern runs deep in the country’s history, sociology and institutional make-up, encompassing pre-communist as well as post-communist elements, despite the superficial novelties of one-time electoral contests.  More


Inflation: Old Wine in New Bottles

Inflation: Old Wine in New Bottles

Inflation is rapidly rising at present across most of the world. This happens in the aftermath of a first pandemic year during in which the fears of deflation that have characterised the decade following the 2008 financial crisis resurfaced in earnest. The new inflation wave is commonly blamed on the pandemic supply shock to global supply chains, as well as on the negative effect of Russia’s war in Ukraine, particularly with regard to grain prices. These aggregate supply rationales are real and correct as far as they go, but insufficient to explain the phenomenon. The pandemic affected both supply and demand, whence sustained efforts in large consumer-driven economies such as the United States to preserve the latter. Less financially constrained consumers accumulated large cash balances at the height of the pandemic which have been reinjected into the economy since the most draconian restrictions have been gradually lifted. And excessively cautious monetary policies, oriented towards recovering lost growth from years past, have reinforced the inflationary effect of post-pandemic spending.  More


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