Read the text, PRACTICE THE PRONUNCIATION of the words and try to summerize what you have read about.


» In this step practising pronunciation is more important than understanding the text very well. So don't spend much time on finding out the meaning of any single word at the moment, but always make sure of its right pronunciation.

» To listen to the pronunciation of a word, double click on any word or mark more than one word with the cursor, then click on "Definition", and in the opening window choose the appropriate word and click on the icon.

» Listen and repeat the words and read the text aloud as a whole some times.

Fund to Hungary: drop dead (maybe)
Extracts for learning English, you can find the original article here: 
The Economist 18th July 2010

MONDAY may be a good time to pick up Hungarian assets on the cheap. The IMF and the EU walked away from negotiations with the Hungarian government on Saturday after the latter refused to give in to the international organisations' demands for more clarity on the country's plans for tax and spending. It seems safe to assume the Hungarian forint will start the week with a sharp lurch downwards.


All parties said talks would resume, but the uncertainty is the last thing Hungary, or any other emerging market needs to see right now.

The EU and the IMF wanted to see a commitment to spending cuts, reforms to ill-run state enterprises like the railways, and a clearer picture of how the government would be raising revenues.

One bone of contention was the government's planned windfall tax on banks and other financial institutions - from which it is hoping to raise some Ft200bn (EU700m) a year over the next two years. Assuming it works - and Italy's Unicredit or Austria's Erste have plenty of other places to put their money - the international lenders wondered whether a windfall tax was a good basis for sound fiscal policy.

The IMF called for 'durable, non-distortive measures,'

'Difficult decisions will be needed not only on the revenue side - where the high financial sector levy, which is likely to adversely affect lending and growth, is planned to be temporary - but also on the spending side.'


As Nomura said in a note, the failure to issue a polite communique is:

'...a very rare event, countries usually go out of their way to satisfy these missions. The IMF has said indeed that they didn't even get to discuss the extension as they didn't reach agreement on the current SBA.'

This was not a government dead set on pleasing its guests. Local media reported during the negotiations that the IMF was not pleased that Viktor Orban, the prime minister (pictured), chose to be in South Africa watching the World Cup final when the delegations arrived. Nor can it have helped that Sandor Csanyi, head of OTP, Hungary's largest bank, was there at the same time. It was also unfortunate that an amendment to the windfall tax law was introduced while the IMF was in town, one which would exclude seven insurance companies set up since 2007 from the tax, including one on whose board sits a key economics adviser to Mr Orban, along with several politicians from his Fidesz party.

One explanation for this intransigence is that Fidesz is under pressure. The party won a landslide election victory just three months ago with promises to 'save the healthcare system', spur economic growth and, above all, cut taxes. Last year's fiscal consolidation came at great social cost, and the outgoing government paid a heavy political price for it. The banking tax is an attempt to square the circle.

Local elections are due in October, and yapping at Fidesz's heels is Jobbik, a far-right nationalist party even less obeisant to the etiquette of international finance than Fidesz.

This was their response to the debacle:

'We can guess at the choreography that will follow from Monday: politicians, analysts and journalists serving the global financial powers will lay into the government for not giving into foreign pressure. Jobbik will not be part of this... The discussions with the IMF and the EU are a key front in the fight for economic independence,' they wrote, evoking the spirit of the 'fight for independence' that followed the 1848 revolution against the Hapsburgs in Vienna.

From inside the country, the government feels pressure to take a bolder, even reckless, approach. Mr Orban himself talked about 'debt rescheduling' in remarks to businessmen two years ago. Austerity has its limits. So does lenders' patience.

STEP 2 »