Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
My life in Prague

Invest Finance articles

Euro toursJust another funny chapter in my life. It seemed my first business ventures of starting a modeling agency together with a waterbed emporium came to a slow, fizzling fail. Having completely burned dry my four credit cards that I had accumulated in the west while planting trees in Canada, and all my savings and even my abundant unemployment insurance, I was forced to look for… BLAH, a job!!

I worked for a while at an English language newspaper, trying to get them ads. Why do I always get railroaded into these sales jobs, when I rather do not like it? Is it my trusting, blue eyes?

But one day, while cold calling on the phone, I ended up with a long conversation with one of the co-owners of a local investment company. He seemed interested in my case, was asking a lot of questions, and eventually offered to take me out to dinner with his daughter.

We became what I believed were friends, even traveled around the country a bit, staying in hotels, although once I noticed him at the end of the hotel hall giving a big punch into the gut of his daughter, during some argument. I didn’t know what to do and just slipped into my room.

Eventually he introduced me to his partners and they agreed to hire me. But they wanted me to put in 12 hours a day of work. I told them I wanted to try to keep my waterbed business alive and only wanted to commit to 8 hours. They reluctantly conceded.

My task was to walk every day across the bridge to the city’s library to read the local business newspapers and scribble down abbreviated notes, synopsizing the current events. I’d leave their office every day, smoke a doobie while I crossed the bridge to the city library and had a pleasant day, my Czech slowly improving in the process.

Turns out that they ended up assigning me a bogus job because what they were really after was my dad, after this recruiter learned that he ran the country’s US AID program with a budget of 20 million dollars to help develop the country away from the recently deceased Communism to a free enterprise economy. They later bugged me to set up a meeting with my dad, who much later revealed to me that they threatened his life, since he didn’t want to give them any money.

Once that was determined, they came to the conclusion there was no longer any need for me and fired me, my recruiter “friend” arguing that I lacked incentive, since I only wanted to work 8 hours a day.

I was devastated, my business ventures all failing and now I even got fired. As I was cleaning and packing up my desk, one of the employees suggested I try translating. I thought that might work so I went to all the translating agencies around town, asking them about their requirements. They all stated I need an office downtown, a business licence, computer and fax. Well, that’s great, I spent all my savings on my failed waterbed emporium, now I couldn’t even hold a job, and didn’t have enough money to give this a try. I went home to cry.

A few days later the finance director of the company called me up to inform me that I could come in to pick up my last paycheck. I dragged myself there to face the music. He invited me to his office and, as he was preparing to hand me my last check, he informed me that he wanted to keep in touch with me, citing that he would also like to take personal English lessons from me (which my girlfriend later filled), and to express his interest in keeping good relations with me, he mentioned that they have an office downtown that they are not using at the moment, that I am welcome to use it for the time being, and that it comes equipped with a fax and computer.

You can check out more stories of my life in Prague.

Eventually I got bored of Prague and decided to embark on my world travels, as the arrival of the internet allowed me to take my translation work online. I also started a translation company, which was quite successful at times. But eventually decided to settle down in the Philippines, where I now offer custom private boat tours in the beautiful area of Palawan.

Some summaries of articles in short code, Czech and English languages, regarding the financial situation in the Czech Republic in the early 90s, shortly after the fall of Communism

<EK 38>
– Prague Stock exchange opened Dubna 6, ’93
– trades listed..
– so far: kotavanÿch papiru – 189.7M Kç
ne “” >66.5M
p⌐imé obchody >96.8; obligace – 244.4M;
akcie – 6.9M; podílové listy 4.9M
<EK 36>
– imp.xpt. data: see photocopy 2a & 2b.
– from July 15, ’93; to receive ‘Czech Made’:
– must be made here (or >or= 60%)
– nebo do¿lo zmênê charakteru zboæí procesem provedenÿm v ÇR
– must have company name first listed in ÇR
– must fill hygenic, safety, fire norms etc. within state regulations..
– rules vary by product classes etc.
– licence good for one yr. – can be removed if quality drops etc. (periodically regulated)
– may get fined up to 50,000 Kç, breach of regulations etc.
<EK 35>
– law for privatization (st. pod.) added toaltered 5 times so far, each with major effect (Aug., ’93)
– none though deals with the remaining unpriv.
– 113M Kç in grants for remaining st. pod.
– firm types still yet to be priv.:
1) social services; admin.; recreational arranging
2) property, realestate
3) flatsappartments
4) firms to be restituted
5) firms unusable in mkt.
6) firms with unrealized transfer contracts
– some may remain (st. pod), ie- gov’t services. Others trashed altogether
<EK 34>
– bankrupcy situations may create domino effect, endangering citizens’ savings; may nedd gov’t support
– new tax laws written regarding depreciation
<EK 34>
– firma Transfinance – invoice firm
– buy claimsoutstanding debt (pohledávka) of Czech exporters
– largest of its kind in ÇR
– která kupuje pohledávky çeskÿch vÿvozcu from abroad on its account, afterwhich insuring not only debt covering the pohledávek, but above all the operation’s financing
– important for many firms (some have bankrupted as a subsequent)
– wants to expand its function to domestic trh (due to volatile nature in foreign dealings..)
– last yr., vÿnosu >15M Kç: 6-10% Scandanavia, 5% Beneluxu, 11-12% Fr. Br. & Ireland, <10% SRN.
– preparing spolpr. with various banks. Interested in SR.
<EK 31>
– >first wave: 5.5M shareholders ÇR, own 198M akcií v nominální hodotê
<EK 31>
– Poland: ’90 HDP dn 11.6%, ind. prdn dn 24.2%;
’91 dn 11.9%; other data..
– took out, supplied pp.4c.
– want to allow enterprising in field of energy (under gov’t regulation)
<EK 27>
– p⌐edstavitelé ÇKD Praha a.s. & AEGT Westinghouse, Bahnsytm(?) on 22.6.93: spol. firmu na vÿrobu kolejovÿch vozidel. SRN firm to get 55%
– 1.7.94: want to liberalize licencing for business activity (here..)
– gov’t wants to up budget spending (due to increases in revenue) by 10B Kç (for second half ’93)
– V b⌐eznu ’93 ÇNB first emisi cennÿch papíru na F capital trzích: increased its reserves
– summary of HUNGARY – bunch of data..
Podíl ÇSFR & Polsko na Maâ: ’90 ’91 ’92
xpt. 5.7 4.3 4.8
imp. 6.7 6.0 5.9
’88 ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92
ÇS xpt. 1309 1413 1637 3195 5391 M Kç
imp. 825 813 1368 5427 15481
saldo bilance 484 600 271 -2232 -10090
’92 ÇR: exp. – 4056 (75.2%, of SR); imp. – 13782 (89%)
– last few yrs., main xpt ÇS: chmel; tires; chem. products; p⌐íze; prádlo; sklo etc.; ceramic products; válcovanÿ materiál; trubky; tractors; textile; polygrafické & obrábêcí stroje; komponenty & náhradní díly; loæiska; osvêtlovací za⌐ízení; nábytek; konfekçní vÿroby; obuv; mêricí p⌐ístroje; hraçky; sportovní pot⌐eby; biæuterie; hudební nástroje; ⌐ada ruznÿch hotovÿch prumyslovÿch vÿrobku.
main imp. ÇS: bavlna; hovêzí kuæe; textilní, obrábêcí, potraviná⌐ské & speciální stroje; telecom. za⌐ízaní; elektr. vÿrobky; léka⌐ské, kontrolní & mê⌐icí p⌐ístroje; rÿæe; kuku⌐ice; obolí; káva; cem. produkty; sklo; knihy; çasopisy aj.
– impxpt. látek (po¿kozujících ozonovou vrstvu) návrh: to require licence..
– návrh, giong through gov’t quickly, for tightening of regulations regarding bezpeçnostních sluæbách (to be transferred into responsibility of Ministry of Interior)
<EK 17, 22-28 Dubna>
– ’92 ÇS: 83.5M tourists – 28.8% up from yr. before (by 18.7M)
– 67.8M to ÇR (81.2%), a 33.2% up from yr. before
(15.7M to SR, 18.8%; 12.8% up “” )
– 94.8% (ÇS) stopped to buy
– 0.1% came by boat (Dunaji & Lobi), 1.1% by plane (up 24.6%), 4% by train (dn 7.8%)
– greatest increase únor & prosinec (mimosezónni)
– stagnation for strongest mo. srpen indicates limitations in accomodation
– to ÇR 186,000
– 45.5% asked (on way out) said slept over at least one night
– (42.2% from SRN)
– ÇNB calculated tourists ’92 left 1.1B K$
– showing a yrly. up 132.3% (infl. taken into consideration): which = a 9.5% of xpt. ÇS ’92 (same as with Austria, another popular tourist place..)
– each person spent approx. 16.6$ (’92), low..
– photocopied: refer to -4j-m-
<EK 14, 1 to 7 Dubna>
(p⌐íloha); hotels – refer to photocopy pp.6b
– U.S. gov’t travelling expenses (diety) for hotels: Prague @ 230$day, second only to Tokio @ 295$day.
– lump sum ubytování: Prague 174$day; Paris 125; London 124; Brussels 145$day
– in comparison to Vienna, Prague has greater quantity of hotels; quality will require further I (to catch up..)
– comparison (chart) ÇR to Finland
-ie- HDPperson Finland ’89 15,030; ÇS 8370
xpt “” ’90 5,341; 766
imp “” 5,412; 847
– article on Seat
– VW got 51% ’86 – now 3rd with VW (znaçkou)
– vÿroba (Seat & VW in Spain): ’91 – 552,210; ’92 – 578,432.
– prodej (Seat only) ’91 ’92
domestic 100,551 104,882
xpt 254,818 252,313
– article on Poland (econ. stats..)
– saldo bilance ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92 (M Kç)
(with ÇS) -47 -6,976 8,868 2,740
– chart ÇS imp. & xpt. Polsko by commodity
– real estate vÿvoj for Budapest, Praha, Warsaw, Moscow (article on..)
– office rent: Budapest 50-55 DMm2mo.
30-35 (st⌐ední kvalita)
Praha approx. 60 DMm2mo.
Warsaw “” 50 “”
Moscow 750-1000$m2yr (duben, ’93)
<EK 17>
– before leaving communism:
ÇS – 4,800 large state entrpr.
Maâ – 2,200; Pol – >9,000 (95% ind.)
– koncem ’90 ÇS çínil dluh F only 4% Maâ & 1% Polsk.
– helped in large stat. pod. privatization (?)
– in ÇS & Maâ no massive opposition (therefore priv. easier)
– Maâ – mainly interested in attaining F contacts for direct I (in state entr.)
– ÇS – breaking up state entr. via coupons..
– Pol – zapojilo va velké mí⌐e vedení & zamêstnance ze státnênÿch podniku (along with other stategies..)

– to end ’91 Maâ got >12 I (total of tree) (head start..)
– Polsko – 1st 12 ’92 – 80% priv. went to liquidation (to hands of wrkrs. etc.)
– ÇR – p⌐es nemalÿ podíl FI (VW into ¢koda @ 6B DM largest in region (?)) byl hlavní prulom do priv. by big state entr.
– once inv. fondy got in: 8.5M investors (ie- coupons) were involved
– all states resistantreluctant handing st. pod. to F (via red tape, restit. problems..)
– also more difficultcomplex than originally anticipated (slowing down whole process..)
– of three, Maâ made greatest gains, because: a) most open to FI (incentives etc.), b) decentralization of whole process (roz¿i⌐uje pravomoc mngmnt: more interesting for FI)
– unfortunately, big podíl FI in priv. put entrpr. into tough financial position(?): now interested in coupon method
– too early to decide for ÇR (first wave just over..)
– Polsko, priv. process slowing down (>45% HDP now from priv. sector) – seeking newalternative methods to speed up (process..)
– VW stated wages (its wrkrs) S.Africa 3x higher than ÇR
– see prdk. comparisons, photocopied pg.6a
<EK 29>
– çervna – budget surplus up from 4.8B to 5.6B Kç
– end May – saldo F obchod >6.7B Kç (3.5B to SR)
– state dluhopis 162B Kç
– penêæní zásoba ÇR (1st 5 mo. ’93) up 2.6% by 15.4B Kç
– projekt dosaæitelnÿch úspor elektrické energie ÇR: Ontario Hydro (Canada) & a.s. ÇEZ – first phase to be podporovaného by Cdn. gov’t; should be completed by end Aug.
– general info: see photocopy -6c-d-
– budget info: “” -6e-f-
– starting beginning ’94 – rent controls to go up by as much as 40% in some areas (?)
– byl podmínên vy⌐e¿ením systému sociální compensation jeho dopadu na vÿdaje nízkop⌐íjmovÿch domácností – state budget to set aside 12B Kç(?)
– will help in incentive for upgrading; promote I]
– differentiation in p. will begin to parallel quality & location.. (up 20% max., by location alone)
– homes built > 30.çervnu ’93 – no rent controls..

<EK 29, pp.30> 15-21 çervenec
– jednotlivÿch (Kç) CP (cennÿch papíru)

date trh kotovan trh nekotovan CP Celkem
stát. dluh obligac. akcie+PL____________
6.4 1,239,920 597,670 81,760 2,019,350
20.4 5,680,440 845,960 194,250 6,720,650
27.4 3,617,653 1,150,620 89,010 4,857,283
4.5 7,840,200 223,230 0 8,063,430
11.5 10,967,060 1,560,050 505,200 13,032,310
18.5 4,131,430 2,047,260 420,440 6,599,130
– CSAEF – Çeskÿ & SR Americkÿ Podn. fond (bol zriadenÿ vládou USA v marci 1991 na podporu rozvoja tÿch malÿch strednÿch súkromnÿch):
Typy transakcií – ÇR:
zaçínajúce podniky (10) $3,050,000 @ 29%
joint venture ( 3) 2,006,000 19
Roz¿íeném podn. ( 6) 1,600,000 15
Privatiujúce ( 2) 3,862,000 37%
– (celkem projekt 21 @ 10,518,000$)
SR: ( 28 13,286,000$)
zaç.. (15) $6,430,000 48%
joint venture ( 5) 3,332,000 25
Roz.. ( 9) 3,524,000 27%
– CSAEF helps finance too..
– rust HDP (v %) rust unempl.
,92 ’93 ’94 ’92 ’93 ’94
Eur. OECD +1.0 -0.3 +1.8 9.9 11.4 11.9
all 24 OECD +1.5 +1.2 +2.7 7.9 8.5 8.6
SRN +2.0 -1.9 +1.4 7.7 10.1 11.3
– “ÇR banks are opening doors into Khazastan”
<EK 16, pp.38>
– article on expected agric. developments for ’93
– ‘mírnÿ optimismus’
– ’92 objem dn. 12%
– charts, etc.
– PHARE (National program for helping in reforming process..): photocopied, p.-9a-
– some goals of project:
– creating strategies for particular sectors
– restruct. & priv. of firms
– increasing competitiveness of firms v podmínkách træní ekonom…
– sektorová skladba projektu zahrnuje: 28.2% textil ind., 20.2% chem., 16.7% strojírenství, rest <10%.
– citizen poll – hodnocení hospodá⌐ské situace a æivotní úrovnê Dec. ’92:
dobrá 9.2% ani dobrá,
spí¿e dobrá 17.2 ani ¿patná 42.2%
spí¿e ¿patná 23.0
¿patná 7.6 nevím 0.8
<EK 3, pp.15>
– general overview Macro ’92 (to be photocopied..)
– nklady (uhelného hornictví): ’93 2.8B Kç; ’94 2.48B Kç; ’95 1.9B; ’96 1.5B.
– koksovatelného uhlí approx. 7% cheaper than imp.(exclud. those dumped from Polsko, SNS)
– çerného energ. uhlí 30% cheaper
– brown coal 30-50% cheaper
– gov’t to support setting aside reserves of 1% (roçní poptávky), to dn. dependency on imp., & smoothen cyclical swings – to be photocopied (p.9c)
– to be photocopied (p.9d) – info on small & medium-sized firms
<EK 3, p.52, 14-20 ledna ’93>
– Bankrupt situation Poland-
– 1st 9 mo. ’92 – 2x æádostí for bankrupcy than in all ’91
– have bankrupcy laws into effect already 2 yrs.
– guess podniky to owe 100’sB PLZ
<EK 11, p.15, 11-17 B⌐ezna>
– vÿvoz ÇSFR, ’92:
ES 162,824.9M Kç 49.42%
ESVO 35,273.6 10.70
bÿvalé RVHP 70,863.5 21.51
ostatní Evr. stát. 10,508.3 3.18
Asia 31,513.3 9.56
Afrika 6,897.9 2.09
Amerika 10,733.4 3.25
Australia 742.4 0.22
Oceánie 60.2 0.01
– podíl skupin rizikovosti na celkovém vÿvozu ÇSFR ’92: see photocopy (9e.)
– progress of E>Germany:
– ’91 dosahovaly hodinové mzdy 60% (?)
’92 up 20% (“”)
– E.Berlin – mzdy v úklidovÿch sluæeb – vyrovnaly
stavebnictví – dosáhlo 75%
textil &
odêvním prumysl. – 50-55%
(this last the greatest drop in vÿroba & empl.)
– hruby mêsíçní vÿdêlek – v ind. ’90 – @ 35%
’91 47%
– photocopied (9g) ie- prdk. gains
– estimates call for reaching W.Germ. in 10-15 yrs.
– after joining, hrubÿ prumêrnÿ p⌐ijem (tax) up from 15 to 33.2% (infl. pressures)
– cenovÿ index to end ’91 up by 20%
– ’91 – East çinnil prumêrnÿ p⌐íjem domácnosti 55% (of West)
v dêlnickÿch ” 66%
– t⌐íçlenné dêlnické & wrkrs dispoibilní p⌐íjmy up 66% from ’89 to end ’91
– at same time vÿdaje up 250% (nájem, heat..)
up 10% (food)
– therefore ’91 dn. reálnÿch p⌐ijmu for >3M domácnosti
– some regions (ie- têæby uhlí jiænê od Lipska) enempl. as high as 50-70%
<EK 9, p.p⌐íloha>: taken out – “Bytová Politika”, some interesting stats (see 9h)
<EK 48, Nov 25>
Euro tours– priv. % of HDP now at 44%
– HDP should up by 0.5-1% over ’93; infl. approx. 19% (’93)
– unempl. up SRN: W. 2.75M, E. 1.27M – overall @ 11.5%
– puvodní spolk. zemê, expect 0% up HDP
bÿvalou NDR 7.5% up
– int’l bank for obnovou & rozvoj to give Maâ 100M$ loan for rozvoj energetiky: 15 yrs., 7% úroku

Back to My Life in Prague pages

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the Philippines, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all. These pages in this section cover my various solo travels through Europe before meeting my wife.

Espinosa Kosmans

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the Philippines, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all. These pages in this section cover my various solo travels through Europe before meeting my wife.

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