For a decade or more, we at the IMF have grappled with the idea that very large capital flows into successful emerging market countries were almost inevitable and would prove extremely difficult to manage. Since these topics were first broached at a theoretical level, we have witnessed developments in a number of emerging economies in Europe that reinforce the concerns and underscore the implications for policy. Two lessons may be learned from the experience. First, the choice between fixed and flexible exchange rates is important, but perhaps not for reasons that are usually put forward. Second, monetary policy—and policy to stabilize the economy more generally—needs substantial reinforcement.
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IMF European Department Director Marek Belka, a former Polish premier, draws lessons from the global economic crisis for reformers in eastern Europe.
The Program of Seminars takes place outside the formal framework of the Annual Meetings. But to many people, they were the main reason for making the trip to Istanbul.
The program's October 4 offering included a first-hand perspective of how three emerging market countries—Turkey, Slovakia, and Ukraine—have weathered the crisis. We also got a glimpse of the methodology the IMF is using to become better at sounding the alarm if it sees new vulnerabilities building up in the world economy.
More Europe, not less
By Ajai Chopra
When the global financial crisis spread to emerging Europe in the last quarter of 2008, memories of the Asian crisis of the late 1990s sprang back to life. Would emerging Europe face the same chaotic currency depreciations, mass defaults of banks and companies, double-digit output losses and social unrest that beset several Asian countries back then?
Nine months into the crisis, it is clear that emerging Europe as a whole is not following Asia’s script. But it is also clear that the crisis is evolving differently across countries.
The Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are suffering output declines that already exceed those of the Asian crisis (see chart below).
By Bas Bakker
As the crisis in Europe deepens, it is worth asking how it all went wrong in the first place. In the past decade there have been stark differences in per capita GDP growth in Europe. Growth rates have ranged from close to zero in Italy and Portugal to more than 4 percent in the best performers. Why do some countries in Europe grow much faster than others? And how can those falling behind catch up before it is too late?
In part, these differences reflect “convergence”. It is much easier for poor countries to grow faster than it is for rich countries because they can import technology they do not already have. It is much more difficult to grow fast if you are already rich and at the technology frontier—now you can only get richer by innovation.
Following the global economic crisis, Europe's emerging economies will need to find new sources of growth to increase their share of world markets. Marek Belka, head of the IMF's European Department, says growth will need to come from manufacturing and services, rather than, in the past, construction, real estate, and banking. But he argues that Emerging Europe has transformed itself many times before and is quite capable of doing it again.