Final Word from Friday, May 17, 2002

Hardly a week goes by without a major bankruptcy in Germany (Philip Holzmann, Fairchild Dornier, Herlitz, Kirch, etc.). At the same time, German unions are getting more aggressive. The IG Metall engineering union won a 4% pay hike this week, which German employers say could lead to more economic difficulties and layoffs. The CR, and especially exporters, could eventually be hurt by Germany's problems, but analysts Tomáš Kozubek of Atlantik and Jan Slabý of Wood & Co. don't expect an immediate impact here. Foreign investors, who account for an increasing level of Czech economic activity and growth, are in an unusually strong position. Richard Falbr admitted last month, shortly before stepping down as the CR's top union boss, that Czech unions ČMKOS realize that if they go on strike, foreign investors can simply pull up and move elsewhere.


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