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Central and East European countries: prone to currency crisis?

Sind die Zentral- und Osteuropäischen Länder zur gegenwärtigen Krise verurteilt?
[working paper]

Pöschl, Josef

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Corporate Editor Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH
Abstract "Central and East European Countries (CEECs) have liberalised foreign trade almost completely and capital flows quite extensively. All have balance of trade deficits. Experts are worried because in some the current account deficit is high and still rising. Current account deficits could be an indicator of domestic companies' low competitiveness. However, also the contrary could be the case: The country's more dynamic industries may try to increase their position vis-a-vis foreign competitors through massive import of advanced technology, in this way enlarging the trade deficit. Not surprisingly, there are no clear indicators to warn of imminent crisis. Nor is there a generally accepted strategy for reducing proneness to crisis. During the financial crisis in East Asia, analysts identified current account deficits and the banking systems' fragility as the main financial problems. These can also be observed in CEECs. It is not just these current account deficits which continue to plague CEECs, but also relatively high inflation, weak financial systems and structural deficiencies. In fact, the preconditions for far-reaching financial market liberalisation were hardly met in the CEECs. Reversing this step now would be difficult, however, so governments and central banks are targeting ex post improvement of the preconditions. It was not possible within just a few years to create ownership structures in the CEECs enabling companies to modernise rapidly. The decisive exception was privatisation relying an FDI. For this reason, the Hungarian economy now seems quite sound. Capital flows have become an important factor in CEECs, both at company level and macroeconomically. Massive inflow can even more than offset the current account deficit, so increasing currency reserves and lessening vulnerability to currency crisis. It also means availability of additional funds, better capital allocation and capital transfers. On the other hand, if the net inflow continues for a longer period, then it also tends to expand the monetary basis and may feed inflation. It might be primarily attracted by expectation of quick gains thanks to high interest rates. This can push up the exchange rate and may ultimately elevate the real exchange rate to a level causing an unsustainable deficit in the current account. As experience from the Czech Republic illustrates, high interest rates may fail to protect the economy against a currency crisis. Another example is Russia, where in Summer 1998 a dramatic increase in interest rates did not prevent a currency crisis." (author's abstract)

Zentral- und Osteuropäische Länder haben den Außenhandel nahezu vollständig liberalisiert und der Kapitalfluß hat zugenommen. Alle Länder haben Handelsdefizite. Die Experten befürchten in einigen Fällen daß die wirtschafltiche Indikatoren auf eine geringe Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der Unternehmen schließen lassen. Auch das Gegenteil könnte der Fall sein: Die dynamischeren Industrien könnten versuchen, ihre Position gegenüber den ausländischen Wettbewerbern durch Import von fortschrittlicher Technologie zu stärken. Es gibt deshalb keine klaren Indikatoren, die vor einer imminenten Krise warnen können. Weitere Probleme sind hohe Inflation, schwache Finanzsysteme und strukturelle Defizite. Die Vorbedingungen für eine weitreichende Liberalisierung der Finanzmärkte sind in den meisten Ländern kaum erfüllt. Es wird im Besonderen auf die Situation der Tschechischen Republik eingegangen. (LO)
Keywords economic change; political change; Eastern Europe; transformation; monetary policy; currency policy; capital movement; inflation; export policy; economic policy; Czech Republic; financial market; Europe; commerce; world trade; liberalization; capital; Russia; USSR successor state
Classification Political Economy; Economic Policy
Method empirical; quantitative empirical
Document language English
Publication Year 1998
City Berlin
Page/Pages 20 p.
Series Veröffentlichung / Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Forschungsschwerpunkt Technik - Arbeit - Umwelt, Forschungsgruppe Transformation und Globalisierung
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne