Baltics Head Into Stagflation
In recent month, the state of the Baltic economies has deteriorated quite significantly. First of all, consumer price inflation have gotten worse and worse, with Estonia seeing an inflation rate of 11.4%, Lithuania an inflation rate of 11.7% and Latvia an inflation rate of 17.5%.
And while Claus Vistesen is not yet willing to call the Baltic downturn a recession, I am (at least with regard to Estonia and Latvia). While there are no official confirmation of that yet in the form of quarterly changes in GDP (or for that matter, NBER-style coincident indicator index), there are yearly changes available. And we saw in Latvia
how year over year growth nose dived, from 8.0% to just 3.6%.
A decline in 4.4%: points between two quarters almost certainly imply negative quarterly growth. In Lithuania on the other hand, quarterly growth could be on the plus side, if only slightly, as the decline in year over year growth was just from 8.0% to 6.4%. For Estonia, no preliminary GDP figures are available, but sharp declines in retail sales and industrial production on even year over year terms clearly indicate that Estonia is in a recession.
Given the fixed exchange rate policy, this economic downturn will likely result in a significant downturn in inflation. And given the strong microeconomic fundamentals, the Baltic economies should eventually recover and again see rapid economic growth. But hadn't they copied the ECB's inflationary policies this boom-bust cycle wouldn't have happened and would have passed faster than it now will.
UPDATE:As Claus Vistesen points out and as I also see in the latest Eurostat release on EU GDP, Lithuania did in fact see a falling quarterly GDP in Q1 2008.