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OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2008

Poland has been catching up with the rest of the OECD more quickly in the past two years, but the short-term outlook is clouded by strong excess demand pressures and rising inflation.  This 2008 edition of OECD's periodic survey of the Polish economy examines key challenges Poland faces including monetary and fiscal policies, reforming the tax system, bridging the housing gap, and rapidly improving transport infrastructure.

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Bridging the housing gap

Despite a high level of homeownership, the housing market in Poland is suffering from an important shortage. The difference between the number of households and available dwellings, the number of dwellings per thousand inhabitants, and the availability of basic amenities (especially in rural areas) all indicate that significant improvements are needed to catch up to the most affluent OECD and EU countries. The formal rental segment of the market is also underdeveloped, contributing to low labour mobility and persistent disparities in regional unemployment. Given the social, economic and political dimensions of the problem, various housing policies implemented since the beginning of the transition process have aimed to fill the housing gap, though they have been either narrow in scope or have led to unclear results. However, the housing market has been buoyant in recent years, spurred by rising levels of GDP per capita, lower interest rates and the emergence of a competitive mortgage market. Yet a brisk price appreciation has also occurred at the same time, while households’ exposure to interest- and exchange-rate risks has significantly increased and banks’ funding capabilities have shrunk. Although the market has not been directly affected by the recent global financial turmoil, recent information shows that a turn-around is underway, with prices declining in several major cities as sentiment has plunged. This raises concerns about the capacity of the market to achieve a smooth adjustment in the face of a possible downturn.

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