Banks―and the loans they provided in the run-up to the crisis―are at the heart of Europe’s problems today. Yet it would be wrong to conclude that the crisis was caused by too much financial integration. In fact, the real problem may have been that there was too little financial integration. Policies to promote deeper integration of Europe’s banks―including through cross-border merger and acquisitions―should be part of the solution. Further progress in strengthening the institutions of the European Union (EU) is also needed. What’s more, further European economic integration would unlock substantial efficiency gains, which would help to restore growth in the crisis-affected countries.
Countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia region that import, rather than export, oil were hit hard by the Great Recession of 2008/09. The good news is that, today, the outlook for those countries is broadly positive. But, as often seems to be the case in today’s world, this good news is tempered with a word of caution. According to our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia, there are a number of downside risks. And the key challenge for these four countries—Armenia, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan—will be to take actions now to address these risks.
The varied experience of emerging market economies during the global financial crisis underscores an important lesson: good policies beget good outcomes. Investing during good times to develop a sound policy framework that delivers stronger fundamentals and lower vulnerabilities yields large dividends during crises. In the current crisis, low-vulnerability countries had lower output declines, more space to undertake countercyclical policies, and quicker recoveries.