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  • Russia’s Economic And Financial Meltdown Continues Apace

    Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves have been now been declining very rapidly since mid August, and as the money goes so does the faith that the large stock of reserves the country built up during the boom times would be sufficient to see them through any downturn in energy prices. As the money leaves, so it seems does the decade of economic growth and stability which they symbolised. Indeed so rapid has been the decline that Russia’s international reserves, which are the third-biggest after those of China and Japan, have now fallen $161 billion, or 27% percent, since 8 August last, and decreased by $17.9 billion to $437 billion in the week to 5 December. Investors have now pulled $211 billion out of the country since August, according to estimates by BNP Paribas.

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  • Why We All Need To Keep A Watchful Eye On What Is Happening In Greece

    In view of Greece’s EMU membership, the availability of external financing is not a concern, but the correction of cumulating indebtedness could weigh appreciably on growth going forward. While the risk of transmitting vulnerabilities to the euro area is very small reflecting Greece’s small relative size, large persistent current account deficits would increase the vulnerabilities to a reversal in market sentiment, leading to a corrective retrenchment of private sector balance-sheets in the face of rising indebtedness, and a possible appreciable rise in the cost of funding over time. These developments would have significant negative implications for growth.

    Greece: 2007 Article IV Consultation – IMF Staff Report

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  • So Just When Does Spain’s Twin Deficit Problem Become Unsustainable?

    This, it seems, is the question of the day. According to the IMF Spain’s economy faces a contraction of at least one percent next year. And the IMF stress that the risks to this forecast “remain on the downside” since the country’s real-estate market is “in full correction,”. Also, horror of horrors (and we will return to this). The government’s budget deficit will exceed five percent of gross domestic product next year, the Fund forecast.

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  • The NBH Cuts Interest Rates As Hungary Enters Its Second Recession In Two Years

    Well, before I go any further, yes you read the header right, with the contraction of 0.1% in Q3 over Q2 (seasonally and working day adjusted data) reported by the national statistics office (KSH) today (Tuesday) the Hungarian economy has now entered its second recession since the start of 2007, since data revisions accompanying today’s GDP detailed results from KSH show that they now estimat the economy contracted in both Q1 and Q2 of 2007 (by 0.2% in each case), thus satisfying the normal technical criterion for declaring a recession. Somehow I doubt the Hungarian press are filled today with headlines about this juicly little detail.

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  • Romania’s Economy Heads Off Quietly And With No Fanfares Into It’s Deepest Crisis in a Decade

    Controversy surrounding the Romanian economy is nothing new, nor, as Manuel points out in his post on the recent election, are Romanian politics strangers to tumult. Nonetheless the intensity of controversy has grown considerably of late, with a wide variety of assessments being offered concerning the likely impact of the intensifying international credit crisis on the short to medium term outlook for the Romanian economy.National Bank of Romania (NBR) governor, Mugur Isarescu, has been consistently arguing that the country should be able to avoid an excessively “hard landing”as the bank attempts to cool its evidently overheated economy and engages of fire-extinguising activities in the banking sector trying to control the impact of set of adverse external circumstances that are largely beyond its control. But most of these comments (or at least the more convincing ones) preceded the meltdown in the international financial markets which followed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the fallout from which has surely had a strong negative impact on Romania’s economy and greatly complicated the task of conducting macroeconomic policy which faces the new government to be be formed following last weekends elections.

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  • As Spanish Unemployment Rises Sharply Again, Just When Did Spain Enter Recession?

    The number of people presenting jobless claims in Spain soared to nearly 3 million in November, following a 6 percent rise in registrations over October, providing us with yet further evidence, if we needed it, of the gravity of the situation which is now unfolding before our eyes.

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  • With Italy In Recession Consumer Confidence Declines Further In November

    Italian consumer confidence fell back to its lowest in three months in November. The Isae Institute’s consumer confidence index dropped to 100.4 from 102.2 in October.

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  • Are Baltic Devaluations Now In The Works?

    Now this is a very interesting question, isn’t it? The only honest answer I can give is that I don’t know, and indeed I haven’t the faintest idea. The government of Latvia (the Baltic state which is currently most rife with “rumours” about imminent devaluations) works in its own wondrous ways, and neither we (nor Latvia’s citizens) have any idea at all how they plan to lift their country out of the deepest depression they have experienced in many a long year.

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  • As The Federal Reserve Readies-Up Quantitative Easing, The Bank of Spain Sees Little Prospect Of Deflation

    While we are likely to see a “substantial” drop in euro-region inflation, Bank of Spain forecasts for the 15-nation euro area do not show price drops. That is they “show an enormous moderation in price gains, but they do show price gains,” according to the latest statements by Miquel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, ECB Council member and Governor of the Bank of Spain. Bank of Spain eurozone forecasts “don’t show deflation” he told reporters in Madrid yesterday (Wednesday).

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  • The Spanish Crisis In A Nutshell

    This will be a relatively short post, since I think the facts here speak for themselves. Basically the roots of the Spanish “problem” are undoubtedly many and complex, but there is one underlying ingredient in the present dynamic which more or less governs everything else: the dependence on external financing due to the ongoing current account deficit, and the difficulties the banks have had raising this external financing since the outbreak of the “financial turmoil” (aka as the US sub prime crisis) in August 2007. Following the difficulties which arose in the global wholesale money markets in the wake of the “August troubles” two countries – Spain and Kazakhstan – found themselves in a virtually unique (and unenviable) situation: the doors of the global money markets were slammed tight shut in their faces. Since September 2007 both of these countries have, each in its own particular way, struggled to handle the aftermath of what effectively amounted to “financial armageddon”.

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Dan Steinbock

Dr Dan Steinbock is a recognized expert of the multipolar world. He focuses on international business, international relations, investment and risk among the major advanced economies (G7) and large emerging economies (BRICS and beyond). In addition to his advisory activities (www.differencegroup.net), he is affiliated with major US universities as well as international think-tanks, such as India China and America Institute (USA), Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and EU Center (Singapore).

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