It could be the fastest-growing region of the fastest-growing economy in Europe
There's nothing like the disapproving stare of a financially-savvy child (I can only imagine it's the first eTrade baby slightly grown up) to make you ask yourself: why didn't I invest in eastern Poland?
It's hard to disagree with Matthew Yglesias that the above ad, which has been running in The Economist, among other fine publications, is "the greatest economic development poster of all time." But just how good an investment is eastern Poland?
Let's put it this way. I don't always invest in Europe, but when I do, I prefer Poland -- and eastern Poland in particular. As you can see in the chart below, Poland weathered the financial crisis better than any other major European economy, thanks in large part to its massive currency depreciation in late 2008. (Not-so-coincidentally, none of the four big economies that have grown the fastest since 2007 use the euro).
As long as you're putting your money in Europe's post-crisis growth miracle, you might as well put it where there's the potential for the most growth: the eastern half of the country. The unfortunate legacy of Russian, rather than Prussian, rule after the country's partition in the late-1700s has put a lasting dent in eastern Poland's development; and, not to be too indelicate, but the murder of the region's Jewish middle-class, first under the czars, and later under the Nazis, did too. It's more than a bit morally icky, but as you can see in the chart below from Eurostat, eastern Poland still lags the rest of the country to this day.
Now, poorer regions don't always grow faster than richer ones -- indeed, eastern Poland didn't during the past decade -- but they should tend to catch-up over the longer-term. In other words, eastern Poland very well could be the fastest-growing region of the fastest-growing economy in Europe.
You can certainly do worse, but -- sorry investments-judging-kid! -- I think I prefer an index fund.
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Matthew O'Brien is a former senior associate editor at The Atlantic.