The opening up of Eastern Europe to the rest of the world in the early 1990s brought about tremendous benefits. The inflow of capital and innovation has led to better institutions, better economic management, and higher efficiency. On the flip side, it has also led to sizable and persistent outflow of people.
For a man who declared on his arrival at the IMF “I do not blog,” Olivier Blanchard, our soon-to-be former Chief Economist, is one hell of a blogger.
Prolific and popular. A demi-god: half economist, half artist. Blanchard writes the way he thinks: sharp, frank, and intellectual, while pushing against the edges of his métier with the creativity and honesty of a singular economist.
Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe: Safeguarding the Recovery as the Global Liquidity Tide Recedes
(Version in Türk)
Growth is gathering momentum in most of Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe (CESEE) in the wake of the recovery in the euro area. Excluding the largest economies—Russia and Turkey—the IMF’s latest Regional Economic Issues report projects the region to grow 2.3 percent in 2014, almost twice last year’s pace. This is certainly good news.
There are a trillion reasons to care about who owns emerging market debt. That’s how much money global investors have poured into in these government bonds in recent years —$1 trillion. Who owns it, for how long and why it changes over time can shed light on the risks; a sudden reversal of money flowing out of a country can hurt. Shifts in the investor base also can have implications for a government’s borrowing costs.
What investors do next is a big question for emerging markets, and our new analysis takes some of the guesswork out of who owns your debt. The more you know your investors, the better you understand the potential risks and how to deal with them.
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.
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe has been through a lot. In two short decades, the region moved from a communist planned system to a market economy, and living standards have converged towards those in the West. It has also weathered major crises: first the break-up of the old Soviet system in the early 1990s, then the Russian financial crisis in 1998, and finally the recent global economic crisis. How did these countries do it? From the Baltic to the Balkans, the region’s resilience and flexibility are the result of hard work and adaptability. But more than anything, it is the strong institutions built over the last two decades that have enhanced the region’s ability to deal with the momentous challenges of the past, the present—and those to come.
The Baltic country of Latvia has gone through the most extreme boom-bust cycle in emerging Europe, and was among the first countries to ask for financial assistance from the international community. Today, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Real GDP grew by 5½ percent in 2011, and is now projected to expand by 3½ percent in 2012, a number that possibly will come out even higher. Latvia has also successfully returned to international capital markets.
The three Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—were among the first victims of the global financial crisis. Although adjustment is still far from complete, a recovery is now underway. It is still too early to judge the success of the Baltic strategy, but it's fair to say that the most dire predictions have not come true.
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.