On January 7, 2021, our colleague, a prominent Czech economist, co-founder and former long-term Director of the Institute of Economic Studies, prof. Ing. Michal Mejstřík, CSc., passed away.
Professor Michal Mejstřík was an extraordinary and multi-layered personality of the Czech economy whose lectures, opinions, mindset and example influenced several generations of Czech economists. He was one of the few economists who managed to devote his time to both his students and the practical problems of the Czech economy to the fullest. He was able to switch between the problems of academic economics, economic policy and business practice with bravura, thus inspiring and connecting experts from a number of different fields. In his rich professional life he successfully connected the seemingly disparate roles of a teacher, consultant, manager, mentor, as well as attentive listener, thoughtful researcher and inspiring colleague.
Professor Michal Mejstřík studied econometrics at the Prague University of Economics and Business and then worked at the Institute of Economics of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, prof. Mejstřík got the T.G. Masaryk scholarship and spend one year at the London School of Economics and Political Studies (LSE). Upon his return, he joined the discussion on the transformation of the Czech economy, to which he contributed with his knowledge of banking and business economics. From the beginning, he emphasized the importance of competitiveness and innovation for the development of a small open economy, being convinced that a functional and stable law system and institutions were the alpha and omega of economic prosperity.
In 1993 he co-founded our Institute of Economic Studies, where he had been in the position of Director until 2010. Later on, he still actively participated in the running of the Institute, especially in the roles of the Program Director of master's programs and the main leader of the Diploma Thesis Seminar. Thanks to his detailed and sincere interest in diploma theses, hundreds of our alumni had the opportunity to discuss economics with him; prof. Mejstřík was the one who personally knew the most IES graduates by far, and he was happy to keep in touch with them frequently. In addition to his many other roles, he added the valuable role of the main ambassador of our Institute.
Professor Mejstřík was also a significant academic, teacher and researcher. He had published over 150 professional publications, most often focused on banking, privatization and restructuring, which have been widely cited, especially abroad. He was the co-author of several award-winning textbooks on banking, widely used at Czech universities. In 1997 he received the title of Professor of Economics at Charles University in Prague.
In addition to his analytical and academic work, he had acted as an expert and advisor in dozens of transactions and company restructurings, some of which, especially in the energy sector, were among the most important in the region. Among other things, he led a successful team for approving the state aid for ČSA and the establishment of Czech Aeroholding by the European Commission. He was also an external consultant for several international organizations (World Bank, European Commission or USAID) for Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. He also helped to introduce the practice of processing regulatory impact assessments (RIA) into Czech legislation, while in 2011–2015 he chaired the RIA expert commission at the Legislative Council of the Government. In the years 2011–2014, prof. Mejstřík was also the chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Czech Republic.
His name came to the attention of the general public in 2009, when he became a member of the National Economic Council of the Government (NERV), responsible for the competitiveness area and foreign trade. Under his leadership, a strategy for the international competitiveness of the Czech Republic was created, which was awarded, among other things, by the OECD. The main feature of the strategy was the emphasis on improving domestic institutions, infrastructure, and supporting innovations based on education.
During the spring wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, professor Mejstřík was also a member of the economic advisory team of the Central Crisis Staff and from the very beginning he also was a member of the KoroNERV-20 expert group, established to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the Czech economy.
His sudden death greatly affected us, his colleagues and students. Prof. Mejstřík was just about to receive the commemorative medal of FSV UK for merits for the development of the faculty, which had been prepared for him for the upcoming ceremonial meeting of the Scientific Council of FSV UK. It will be extremely difficult for all of us to imagine the Institute of Economic Studies without the personality of Professor Mejstřík, especially without his activity, creative ideas and witty remarks.
May he rest in peace.
doc. PhDr. Martin Gregor, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Economic Studies
Should you wish to express condolences to prof. Mejstřík’s family or share a memory publicly, please do so through the online condolence book.
Autor - Barbora Holková