40 Sleeps Till Christmas


Photo by tomertu /

I don’t want to worry you, but we passed a landmark on Monday of this week: 40 sleeps till Christmas, as my children would put it. Next week is Thanksgiving. If you are anything like me, that may have crept up on you unawares. We are buried deep in a succession of deadlines, both for our own publications and contract printing work. Every now and then, you come up for air after a morning’s hard graft at the wordsmith forge only to find night has fallen and the day passed.

Fortunately, we can help prepare the way for you. We have a preview of expectations for Black Friday (officially November 26, but it does seem to be something of a moveable feast from store to store). The issue after this will include our Christmas Shopping Special Report. So there you are: Christmas sorted. If only it were that easy.

In the meantime, the commercial world continues apace. The Q3 GDP data, while far from bad, proved something of a disappointment after the stunning figures from Q2. Equally disappointing has been inflation, which has stubbornly refused to go away. Indeed, at 6.6% year on year in October, it was only higher in Estonia (6.8%) and Lithuania (8.2%) in the EU, according to the statistical agency Eurostat.

That led the Monetary Council of the National Bank of Hungary, which met on Tuesday of this week, to admit: “A persistent rise in external inflationary pressures and increasing second-round inflation risks have necessitated more extensive and longer-lasting monetary policy tightening.” Both those as yet undetailed Q3 figures and the MNB’s 30 basis points hike to the base rate, taking it to 2.1%, are covered in our regular Macroscope feature on page three.

Our Special Report this week looks at one of the undoubted success stories of the Hungarian economy in recent years, the development of the shared services sector, or business services centers, as government agencies and the industry itself prefers to call them. We have interviews with leading players and industry surveys to present to you, and there seems little doubt the number one concern for the market is finding (and retaining) skilled staff.

Alongside the now-familiar calls for more standardization of processes and greater digitization, there is an ever-greater emphasis on staff training. As one center boss put it to me, employers must equip their colleagues with the skills to do jobs that did not exist a few years ago to make sure existing talents can be redeployed as the fourth industrial revolution gains pace. That, and ensuring the education sector is up to scratch and that children of all backgrounds are exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) studies, design thinking, and problem-solving aren’t just nice things to have: They are essential.

Robin Marshall


This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of November 19, 2021.

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