The Man Who Says Poland Will Be Dead by 2020

Despite his penchant for dressing up as Michael Jackson or Hunter S. Thompson for class, Janek Sowa is absolutely not kidding when he says, as he does to anyone who’ll listen, that Poland will cease to exist. Odds-on favorite? By the year 2020.

“We have an economy that constantly produces good macroeconomic indicators,” the slight, bespectacled, 39-year-old professor and sociologist at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, says from his hotel room in Berlin, where he’s attending a conference. Sowa cites things like public debt, which, according to him, is “not very elevated”; gross domestic product growth, which has stayed at 5 to 6 percent per year since the mid-’90s, he says, and never dropped below 2 percent even after the 2008 financial crisis; and a steady wave of foreign investments. Nonetheless, Sowa says, the average Polish citizen saw “very limited benefits from this economic miracle.”