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Financial Doom And Gloom In Eastern Europe


Friday's press is full of gloom about the knock-on effects of the financial crisis on Central and Eastern Europe.

From the "FT":

"Across central and eastern Europe, the global crisis is biting hard, albeit very unevenly. In Russia, the authorities have set aside nearly $200bn (£116bn, €149bn) for a financial market rescue, Ukraine is in talks with the International Monetary Fund over emergency loans of up to $14bn, Hungary was on Thursday bailed out with a €5bn ($6.7bn, £3.9bn) loan facility from the European Central Bank."

As the "FT" says, the region is especially important for the West as a low-cost production base and a large export market.

Another less-than-sanguine article in "The Guardian" identifies those most at risk:

"Many boom nations of eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America are among those abruptly stalling, leaving governments wrongfooted by an investment exodus. Economists have been drawing up a critical list of vulnerable countries - identifying those struggling with giant current account deficits, undercapitalised banks, overheated stockmarkets and exposures to short-term overseas borrowing.

"The three Baltic states along with Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Romania - and of course Iceland - are at the top of the list," said Nick Chamie, of RBC Capital Markets. He singled out Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as least able to mimic the recent western bank bail-outs that have helped more mature economies reduce some of the most damaging effects of the crunch."

We wrote earlier this week about the Main Street worries and runs on banks in Ukraine. It looks like the IMF is prepared to lend Kyiv $14 billion to stabilize the financial system, which, as far as I can tell, would make them the first to be bailed out this time around. Although, Hungary might not be too far behind.

-- Luke Allnutt

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