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Commenting article: Heritage Foundation: Bulgaria Economy More Free but Not Quite There Yet

The Bulgarian economy is 64,6% free, according to the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, released by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.

The score places Bulgaria in the group of countries with moderately free economies.
Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 21:47:32

BTW BBC just announced that Island is taking steps towards joining the EU and the Euro.
Norway has renewed the debate, in the face of their financial catastrophe there too.

CJB, I'd say BG is ahead of the pack, don't you think?

Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 21:43:06

"..OK, some of them are Bulgarians living in the US, but some of them are decent, good people, Americans born and bred."

I love that!
Vessi, this is what you sound like when you apologize for people on account of them not being Bulgarian.
Nelly, after all those years away from BG, how come you sound so typically BG nova-ex-pat?

"... why she would go too all the trouble for 100 lev."
that's strange for BG.
Most affluent BG babes are too busy hanging out at the coffee shops to bother with 100 leva.
Don't know her - poor childhood, hoarding issues - take your pick.

As far as your question:
Sure, measures should and are taken. It will be a very slow process, and all I am saying is that the first step is to step back and understand the dynamic.
Here's somethings that most Bulgarians can't seem to grasp:

Corruption is a cultural dynamic and by no means monopolized by Bulgaria, even in the EU.
Politicians represent the popular culture - they will be as corrupt as the average person electing them.
Government has less power to affect change, than popularly believed in BG.
Living standards are more related to education and know-how of the average person, than to Government policies, short of them starting a war, or nationalizing industries, of course.

It will take a while, but I am not that hopeful, given that many ex-pats can't understand that, having been exposed as they are to other cultures.
Less hope for those still in BG.

JKS - 15 Jan 2009 // 18:02:55

I don't think I made one of my questions clear. I don't know why she would go too all the trouble for 100 lev. Which for her is really not that much. It is not the tax shelter that I was so much troubled about, but the maternity pay.

xNELLIEx - 15 Jan 2009 // 16:58:24


You are the naive Anglo indeed! It happens a lot in the US - people who have unrecorded income getting government subsidies. It happens a lot more than you know. I personally know people in the US perpetrating tax fraud and social security fraud. OK, some of them are Bulgarians living in the US, but some of them are decent, good people, Americans born and bred. Their attitude is, if they can get away with it, why not?

JKS - 15 Jan 2009 // 16:51:27

"No Vessi, it's not Bulgarian politics - you seem intelligent and yet you are repeating the standard Bulgarian cliche here.
It's us - the BULGARIAN PEOPLE, like yours, and I am sure mine relatives, not the politics.
Politicians are part of who we are, like it or not.
You can accept that or pretend you are from a different nationality - your choice."

Kolega you helped me understand something today.

My wife has a "mid-level" mutritsa(sp?) friend. They make good money. She was telling me that she puts all her income into a fake company her husband has set up to avoid taxes and because of this she can claim that she is poor and collect 100 lev a month for being a low income mom.

She doesn't see anything wrong with this.

I was mildly disturbed by this revelation (being the innocent "Anglo" that I am) and pondered it for awhile trying to sort out my feelings. My first instinct was to blame the "Commies" but she is young enough to not have been influenced by them directly. So I think it comes back to being something that is endemic in all of the culture from the top down or as Kolega likes to express it from the bottom up.


My question for you is:

Do you think measures should be introduced to fight corruption, should it just be accepted and ignored as part of your "culture", or actually embraced and somehow rewarded?

Or am I not even asking the right questions?

Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 09:32:40

I just said that the only danger comes from international banking exposure, which is exactly your point, stated differently - "... easy money the past 6 years will NOW suffer IF they have loans from Banks- and I know most many fall these next 2 years..."

As far as the US's role in the gas dispute - I think it's there, but indirect.
The US has long encouraged the ex-Republics in that area to make a stand against Moscow, even talking NATO (meaning eventual EU membership) to anyone interested.
The problem is that the Americans, quite amateurishly and repeatedly, miscalculate the even more monumentally amateur politicians they are dealing with there and end up looking for a way out from embarrassing situations, like the war in Georgia...

US has a major problem with any entity with too much control of energy - understandably.
That's Russia right now.

pk - 15 Jan 2009 // 05:38:29

The Heritage got it all wrong...

From a foreigner point of view( US), Ive never felt so much personal freedon & safety then here in BG..

Im free to break all the rules and get away with it (still).

I think Kolg has many good points- my country shouldnt be telling others how to behave when they themselves have screwed it all up.

But I repectfully disagree that the US/UK is the main cause of Bg problems.

Neither one is the reason for the gas problems-lack of legal system-Real estate crisis (due to no laws/corruption.overbulding). and a horrible government that does 0 to protect the average person.

Bg is lucky that they will NOT suffer nearly as bad in the international bank/credit crisis (that Kolg corretcly states is the fault of the US/UK) BECAUSE BG overall is a cash economy.

All those rich criminal types and lucky bus. owners who made the easy money the past 6 years will NOW suffer IF they have loans from Banks- and I know most many fall these next 2 years...

resipsaloquitur - 15 Jan 2009 // 01:04:46



The Federal RESERVE BANK gives insurance for every bank deposit of US citizen up to

100 000 $.

In real life it means,if your bank files for bankruptcy,your 401 K plan will be paid out by the Government as I said up to 100K.

Beside this you always have the funds,which you paid to the Social Security,when you were working.

Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 01:01:43

"No American banks are represented in BG."

God's little mercies....

Regardless resi, there are other ways to get hurt by Western mismanagement....

resipsaloquitur - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:58:21



POSTBANK(devision of the GERMAN POSTBANK,owned by DEUTSCHE POST...government company).

No American banks are represented in BG.

Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:50:57

Yes, but here are also many foreign branches operating in BG which may be problematic.
Look, no one will escape the current meltdown, and much less would the world learn - humans are sheep - we'll follow the greed and fear again and again.

Did we learn something from the John Law's famous Louisiana bubble in the 1700s that almost bankrupt the French government and probably led indirectly to the French Revolution?

Think not...

resipsaloquitur - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:42:31



The towns in Western countries issue MUNICIPAL BONDS or other securities,which usually are bought by conservative investors, as those

securities are backed by the LOCAL government and in many cases local

UTILITY companies.


roads,parks,hospitals,schools a.s.o.

The MUNICIPAL papers have a long life span of usually 30 yearsmwhat means the local government has sufficient time to

pay out the principal+interes rate.

The BG TOWNS should get economists,who studied CORPORATE FINANCE and



resipsaloquitur - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:32:57


the financial sector in Bulgaria is in the hands of OLD,CONSERVATIVE BANKS,which

do not expand in such RISKY investments as short NAKED selling,futures contracts,

SWAPS and other derivatives.

Usually they require COLLATERAL and at least 40% downpayment on mortgage loans,therefore

BG Finance industry was not affected as the US Banks.

resipsaloquitur - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:26:11



BBC shoewd an interview with their president and he was asked why ISLAND
borrowed money from Russia?

He answered:"When our beloved friends(he meant the other EU countries) turn

their back and do not help us,we have to look for other alternatives!"

As far as I know sland applied also for AID from the World Bank.

Kolegialen - 15 Jan 2009 // 00:25:01

"You don't make any sense and I doubt your economic competence so I will not engage in an argument with you."

Given that Greenspan - the top American economy guru, told the world that he was wrong and basically had no idea of what he was doing, I think it's fair to say that the idea of "economic competence" should be expanded to include - oh I don't know - at least my favorite bartender for sure.

"But are trying to tell us that Bulgaria's economy is better managed, more robust and resilient than that of the US or Scandinavia? Because this would be news to most Bulgarians."

Correct - it will be news to "most" Bulgarians, and not those who have managed to take advantage of the opportunities.
Admittedly at a low base, but we are still growing and not nearly mismanaged as others more respected economies. If anything the only serious danger for us right now is other government's mismanagement, such as the US and UK....

Bulgaria news (Sofia News Agency - is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." (Sofia News Agency - and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria