International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) have recorded significant macroeconomic achievements since independence. These countries have grown more rapidly-—on average by 7 percent over 1996–2011—-than those in many other regions of the world and poverty has declined. Inflation has come down sharply from high rates in the 1990s and interest rates have fallen. Financial sectors have deepened somewhat, as evidenced by higher deposits and lending. Fiscal policies were broadly successful in building buffers prior to the global crisis and those buffers were used effectively by many CCA countries to support growth and protect the most vulnerable as the crisis washed across the region. CCA oil and gas exporters have achieved significant improvements in living standards with the use of their energy wealth.
Ara Stepanyan, Agustin Roitman, Gohar Minasyan, Ms. Dragana Ostojic, and Mr. Natan P. Epstein
In the face of sharply lower oil prices and geopolitical tensions and sanctions, economic activity in Russia decelerated in late 2014, resulting in negative spillovers on Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and, to a lesser extent, on Baltic countries. The spillovers to eastern Europe have been limited. The degree of impact is commensurate with the level of these countries’ trade, remittances, and foreign direct investment (FDI) links with Russia. So far, policy action by the affected countries has focused on mitigating the immediate consequences of spillovers.
Armenia’s growth has picked up in 2011, led by manufacturing, mining, and services, while agriculture has rebounded from the collapse. Credit continues to grow rapidly, particularly in foreign currency and based on strong inflows to banks. Inflation has come down sharply, reflecting policy rate hikes, spending restraint, the agriculture recovery, and favorable global price developments. Challenges include safeguarding financial system stability, strengthening tax revenues to ensure sustainability and support pro-growth and pro-poor spending, improving the business environment to enhance growth and reduce poverty and unemployment, and reducing external imbalances.