By Nick Cunningham: As Russian President Vladimir Putin tries to maintain its grip over Eastern Europe with its vast web of natural gas pipelines, one small European country gained a bit of leverage over Russia. Lithuania announced on May 8 that it has successfully pressured Russian gas giant Gazprom into lowering its price for natural […]
Commentators often portray the Baltic countries as laboratories for testing the effects of austerity under fixed exchange rates. Although they share many common traits, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have each followed distinctive paths during the global economic crisis. Estonia maintained tighter fiscal discipline going into the crisis, helping it to win entry into the Euro. […]
Yesterday I argued that Latvia’s cost-cutting efforts are evident compared to a cross-section of European Union countries. Latvia’s efforts, while commendable, were very much a function of the emergency IMF loan in December 2008 and the ensuing recession in 2009. But I now see a very scary trend emerging across Europe, the fight for exports.
It is time for an update on the economic developments in the Baltic countries. Official GDP numbers for the third quarter of 2009 have recently been published and a clearer picture emerges. I have been asked by many foreigners how the Baltic countries look these days. The foreigners ask whether unemployed and poor people hang around in the streets and whether people are gearing up to protest against the economic crisis and the actions of their leaders. I live in Estonia and travel regularly in the two other Baltic countries, so it is my hope that I can contribute with some personal experiences from the ground. I do not want to downplay the seriousness of the economic downturn, but I will argue that the situation in the Baltics might be less bleak than the statistics suggest.
“In my view … it is impossible to understand this crisis without reference to the global imbalances in trade and capital flows that began in the latter half of the 1990s.” Bernanke (2009) Executive Summary Compared with the average quarterly value of GDP in 2007-08, the first two quarters of 2009 are down in nominal […]