It is now time to turn our eyes to the left; not politically to the left but, assuming you are facing south, literally to the left, into Eastern Europe. Here is the latest update on that crisis-struck region.
Russia first: Stock markets keep falling, cheaper oil is hurting, a recent $200bn government package to boost liquidity has not helped much; and hear this: overnight interest rates are now 22 per cent.
Capital Economics says: “We expect GDP growth to slow to 3% next year, although the risks to our below-consensus forecast lie on the downside.”
Now cast your eyes towards Turkey. The IMF, it appears, has packed its bags, filled the car up with petrol and is about to come a-visiting, along with a $20bn loan. But inflation is now 12 per cent in Turkey, and Capital Economics reckons recession for the country is unavoidable.
As for Poland, its currency, the zloty, has tanked. But its trade deficit is more modest than in most of its neighbours. Capital Economics reckons growth will slide to 3 per cent – still quite respectable.
The Czech Republic is stronger still. Its foreign debt is modest, its real problem is how it will cope with falling exports to its big customer, the Eurozone. This is one of those few countries in the region that are able to cut interest rates in response to the crisis. Interest rates are just 2.75 per cent now, after a recent big cut, but it seems they have further to fall.
Slovakia is in a similar position to its neighbour. This has been a high growth economy – growth stood at an annualized rate of 7.6 per cent at the beginning of this year, and while it is clearly slowing, its growth rate is likely to remain high by most standards. Interest rates are currently 3.25 per cent
Hungary, by contrast, is sick. The IMF has already stepped in with a $25bn loan, interest rates are at 11 per cent, and Capital Economics reckons the economy will contract by 1.5 per cent next year.
As for Bulgaria and Romania, they both suffer from foreign debt, and seem certain to enjoy the company of the IMF soon.
The Baltic States are suffering from inflation – house prices are falling and, with that, consumer spending. Capital Economics said: “The recession will only deepen next year.”
Finally, we end our tale with the Ukraine. This is one of those economies that have already enjoyed an IMF loan, but, so far, not so good. Capital Economics said: “As part of the rescue package the IMF has demanded a fiscal tightening which will lead to an outright contraction in domestic demand. This has been exacerbated by a collapse in demand for steel, which remains the most important industry in Ukraine. As a result, industrial production contracted by 19.8 per cent y/y in October. Yet, despite it all, the country still grew by 5.8 per cent in October.”
© Investment & Business News 2013