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Managing capital flows in Estonia and Latvia

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    The three Baltic countries have been able to combine, Estonia since 1992 and Latvia and Lithuania since 1994, (1) a fixed exchange rate,(2) liberalisation of the capital account before having a well-functioning and fully supervised financial system, and (3) very large current account deficits. At the same time they have gone through deep structural and institutional change, which has been even faster than in several other transition economies. How have they been able to manage such a combination of characteristics that would usually be regarded inconsistent? The answer is not in clever management or control of financial markets combined with sound fundamentals. Rather, the Baltic countries have lacked several such markets that might be sources of instability. There are hardly any inter-bank markets. Public debt is absent or relatively very small. After the boomlet of 1997, the Baltic stock exchanges have generally hibernated. Banking crises have been recurrent. Not only are these economies extremely small, their degree of monetisation is very low. There are very few assets and markets for speculative capital flows. Partially, this reflects sound fundamentals, but mostly it is an unintended consequence of policy decisions. One cannot expect the experience to be easily repeated in other countries.

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    Paper provided by Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition in its series BOFIT Discussion Papers with number 17/2001.

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    Length: 68 pages
    Date of creation: 23 Dec 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:bofitp:2001_017
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Bank of Finland, BOFIT, P.O. Box 160, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
    Phone: + 358 10 831 2268
    Fax: + 358 10 831 2294
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