Final Word from Thursday, December 21, 2006

Czechs are lining up to plunk down thousands of crowns for Christmas gifts. Many are spending more at one time than the checkout lady makes per month. Bob Dylan's oft-quoted line that the "buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down" could be rephrased in the CR as the "buyin' power of the retail worker's gone down." Manufacturing and office staff are seeing a surge in income, but the checkout lady is stuck at Kč 7,000-8,000. Some of this is due to fierce retail competition, some to dubious business practices. For years, Czechs have been hearing that they need to move toward a service economy. In practice, this means that tens of thousands of retail workers are living near the subsistence level. Foreign investment was supposed to bring prosperity, not poverty. Foreign-owned retailers are managing to keep the peace so far, but at some point, a hard rain's a-gonna fall.[Czech Republic buying purchasing parity Modern Times]


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