Latvia’s economy has attracted international attention out of all proportion to its size. Many observers know that Latvia returned to strong economic growth after a severe downturn in 2008 and 2009 and a tough austerity program. In late 2012, Latvia even repaid the IMF in full, several years early. But the international consensus ends there. Critics of Latvia’s economic strategy point to continuing high rates of unemployment and poverty; advocates point to the benefits of frontloading spending cuts and tax increases to lay the foundations for recovery.
Compared to where we were at the same time last year, acute risks have decreased. The United States has avoided the fiscal cliff, and the euro explosion in Europe did not occur. And uncertainty is lower. But we should be under no illusion. There remain considerable challenges ahead. And the recovery continues to be slow, indeed much too slow. Overall, these developments lead us to forecast 3.5 percent world growth for 2013.
It has become apparent in recent years is that advanced economy government bond markets can also experience investor outflows, and associated runs. Our new research shows that advanced economies’ exposure to refinancing risk and changes in government borrowing costs depend mainly on who is holding the bonds— the demand side for government debt. Tracking who owns what, when and for how long can shed some light on potential risks in advanced economies’ government debt markets.
Beyond our current economic and financial problems, there are long-term issues that we all know about, but that get too little attention in an era when policymakers are so fully engaged in slogging away at more immediate problems. Unfortunately, long-term issues unaddressed today will become crises tomorrow.