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Friday, January 4, 2013

The Latvian experience

We, anti-default or anti-MOA folk, ought to check how other countries are experiencing and coping.
Masa Serdarevic at FT Alphaville has an all-round excellent post : In Defense of Latvia
One can profitably read it drawing the appropriate parallels with Greece. Some highlights, with added emphasis...
 Latvia had enjoyed average GDP growth of over 10 per cent between 2005 and 2007, largely fueled by plentiful cheap credit  from foreign banks. It also had a ballooning current account deficit of more than 20 per cent. But in 2008 the party was over.
It decided on a strategy of a frontloading the pain
While the IMF has officially “welcomed” the move (early repayment of loan), there has also been criticism by the Fund about the harshness of Latvia’s austerity 
 It’s also interesting to note, but rarely mentioned, that the government has survived two elections since the austerity programme began. 
The markets have also rewarded Latvia, with yield on its 2018 sovereign debt down to a record-low of 1.7 per cent on December 17, from a high of 12 per cent back in March 2009 
Fans of Latvia’s approach have used it to beat up on Greece and the other southern peripherals for not rebounding like Latvia. We’d argue that this is also unfair. Latvia is in many cases a special case.
Blanchard argues, there may be some lessons to be learned from Latvia:
The argument for a social pact, and faster joint adjustment of wages and prices than implied by market mechanisms and the downward pressure from unemployment, remains, in my mind, a very strong one.

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