Economic Convergence in South-Eastern Europe: Will the Financial Sector deliver?
The pace of financial development in south-eastern Europe has accelerated. In a setting of low inflation and robust growth, domestic credit and cross-border flows are expanding rapidly. This can strengthen sustainable real convergence by supporting productivity gains – thus underpinning higher incomes, enhanced competitiveness and a smooth servicing of external liabilities. But such an outcome is not guaranteed. It depends on a favourable investment climate. Otherwise, an expansion of private consumption and residential investment may not be matched by growth in the traded goods sector and in other productive activities. EU Accession – with its potential for trade and investment integration, and an acquis-based strengthening of institutions – improves the chances of good outcomes. But deep structural reforms, as well as sound fiscal and prudential policies, are essential to foster sustainable growth and to avoid financial stress.
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