Mr. Yuan Xiao, Mr. Robert M Burgess, and Ms. Stefania Fabrizio
Large current account deficits in Estonia and Latvia, and the continued real appreciation of the exchange rate in Lithuania, have prompted concerns about the competitiveness of the Baltic economies, and called into question the sustainability of their current fixed exchange rate arrangements. Recent external performance, however, appears to be explained more by temporary or cyclical developments than by a deterioration in the underlying competitive position of the Baltic economies. This book assesses the competitive position of the Baltic countries and focuses, in particular, on the viability of the countries’ strategy of maintaining their fixed exchange rates on joining the European Union, participating in its exchange rate mechanism, and then adopting the euro at the earliest possible date.
We estimate equilibrium dollar wages for 15 transition economies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the former Soviet Union. Equilibrium dollar wages are Interpreted as full employment wages consistent with a country’s physical and human capital endowment, and estimated by regressing actual dollar wages on productivity and human capital proxies in a short (1990- 95) panel of 85 countries. The main results are: (1) equilibrium dollar wages have appreciated steadily in the Baltic countries and fast-reforming CEE transition economies, but have been fiat in most CIS countries: and (2) 1996 actual dollar wages remain below estimated equilibrium dollar wages for most but not ail transition countries covered.
The 2007 Article IV Consultation discusses the Republic of Lithuania's economic developments and policy challenges. Lithuania has done well in the past years to improve its investment climate and ranks high on most measures of doing business. Enhancing flexibility is important because a quick response to changing European demand is key to maintaining the competitive advantage of Lithuanian producers. The income catch-up potential remains large, and the Lithuanian economy has demonstrated resilience to shocks and the ability to climb the technology and quality ladder.
This Selected Issues paper reviews public expenditure in Lithuania with a view to identify areas for which deeper reforms may be warranted to improve spending efficiency and contain future spending pressures. The paper benchmarks spending levels and spending composition in Lithuania against those in other European countries. The 31 European countries covered in the benchmarking exercise include the EU-28 plus Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Reflecting the tendency for public spending to increase with income, Lithuania’s spending as a share of GDP is compared with the European Union average spending controlling for GDP per capita. The paper also tries to assess spending relative to outcomes to get a sense of spending efficiency.
This paper estimated the output gap in Lithuania using three different methodologies—an HP filter, a panel regression, and a production function. This study examines how the levels of the current account deficit and the real exchange rate in Lithuania compare with estimates of their equilibrium values. The regression-based estimates are sensitive to the regression specifications and samples that determine equilibrium values. The large current account deficit in Lithuania may well be the equilibrium outcome of rapid income catch-up driven by strong fundamentals, including EU accession.
Selected issues of Poland are studied in this paper. The global projection model used to prepare the baseline inflation forecast and risk assessment for Poland is also explained. Baseline forecast, risk assessment, and policy communication are discussed. The pension reform has been a cornerstone of fiscal policies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Problems with the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) rules, a brief discussion of reform reversals, and policy options for both individual countries and those at the EU level are also discussed. Fiscal implications of pre-funding future liabilities are also studied.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of Lithuania picked up steam in 2017, following two years of sluggish growth. Real GDP expanded by 3.9 percent largely because of the acceleration of investment, which benefited from credit growth and high capacity utilization. Private consumption remained the main engine of growth, though it was held back by decelerating real wages. The external current account swung to a modest surplus with exports benefiting from past investments in export capacity and improved external demand. Growth in 2018 is projected at 3.2 percent, mainly because of weaker exports after a very strong performance in 2017 and a slowdown of consumption driven by negative employment growth.
This paper analyzes competitiveness in the Baltics in the run-up to European Union accession. Several factors appear to have driven movements in equilibrium real exchange rates in the Baltics since the start of the transition process. In the earlier years of transition, price liberalization, increased demand for services and other nontradables, and shifts in domestic production and exports toward higher valued-added products contributed to real appreciation through higher measured inflation. The strength of the real appreciation during these years appears to also reflect the correction of an initial undervaluation of exchange rates.
This paper examines economic growth and various dimensions of regional disparities in Slovakia. We find that regional disparities in the levels of GDP per capita, labor productivity, and labor utilization have widened since 2000, coinciding with the time that Slovakia initiated negotiations on EU accession. Notwithstanding ?-divergence in the levels, there was conditional ?-convergence in the growth rates of GDP per capita and labor productivity. Improvements in total factor productivity were the main engine of growth of GDP in all regions. Sustaining growth and reducing disparities will require increasing the labor utilization ratio and improving the structural and policy determinants of productivity in the eastern regions. The main policy priorities are to improve transportation infrastructure, enhance cost competitiveness through greater regional differentiation in wages and further decentralization of collective bargaining, and increase accumulation of human capital.
This paper reviews the recent real exchange rate appreciation observed in the three Baltic countries. Until now, this phenomenon may be viewed primarily as a consequence of the undervalued real exchange rates of the new currencies. Looking ahead, a tendency for continued real appreciation is to be expected as part of the transition process toward higher income levels, due in part to differential productivity growth rates in the tradable and nontradable sectors. In the absence of an appreciation of the nominal exchange rate, this real appreciation will occur through inflation rates that are higher than in industrial countries. Provided that the current prudent economic policies are continued, such higher inflation will not threaten macroeconomic objectives and may indeed be viewed as an indication that the transition process is progressing as expected.