Currency Boards in the Baltic Countries: What Have We Learned?
Straightforward exchange rate arrangements known as currency boards have gained popularity during the past dec-ade. Among transition economies, Estonia first introduced a currency board in 1992, followed by Lithuania in 1994 and Bulgaria in 1997. Currency boards have been useful in achieving macroeconomic stabilization, and they may have helped the Baltics become the first countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) to achieve economic growth after the slump in production of the early 1990s. Moreover, Baltic inflation performance has been substantially better than in other FSU countries. Both in Estonia and Lithuania, the present exchange rate system has been ac-companied by strong real appreciation of the currency. Both in Estonia and Lithuania the present exchange rate system has been accompanied by strong real appreciation of the currency, although it is widely accepted that the currencies were very much undervalued at the beginning of their pegs. However, if rapid real appreciation is ac-companied with increases in the labor productivity, the present pegs can be maintained. Banking crises in Estonia and Lithuania have not been particularly severe, so apparently rigid currency pegs have not been accompanied by excessive financial sector instability. The tight fiscal policies pursued in both countries, especially Estonia, have been instrumental to the success of these currency board arrangements.
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