Eastern European Markets

November, the 18th 2009

Nordea: Uneven recovery in the Baltic countries

The expected turnaround in the Baltic Rim economies is likely to gradually improve the business opportunities for Nordic companies operating in the region. But with the deep recession in especially the Baltic countries in mind, the recovery will be uneven.

The global economic outlook has improved sharply during the past months as many economies around the world have emerged from the recession. Despite a rebound in export demand, the outlook for the Baltic countries remains weak.

- We expect all the economies to gain some momentum in 2010 and return to positive growth in 2011, says Helge J. Pedersen, Global Chief Economist in Nordea.

In Estonia the economy is slowly finding foothold in some sectors, but weak domestic demand still remains an obstacle for a rebound. A revival of the Nordic economies would, however, provide strong possibilities of a revitalisation in export demand.

Despite increasing export demand by Russia and the EU, the Latvian economy continued its steep decline throughout Q3, with the flash estimate indicating a GDP contraction of 18.4% y/y. Recently, devaluation speculations have re-emerged.

The Lithuanian economy contracted sharply during the first three quarters of this year, leaving the country in the middle of a steep recession, with contraction expected to continue into 2010. The budget deficit is expected to approach 10% this year and remain around 9% in 2010.

The Polish economy is expected to gradually recover and reach a normal state growth-wise in 2011. - Consumer spending has been a key reason why the economy has steered clear of recession, but it shows signs of weakness. We expect an increase to remain at a very moderate pace well into 2010, says Senior Analyst Anders Svendsen, Nordea's expert on Poland.

Russia was hit hard by the financial crisis as well as the fall in commodity prices, with GDP falling 10.9% in Q2. Strong oil prices and an improved export outlook point to a stabilisation of the economy. However, a sharp decline in investment during first half of 2009, combined with shrinking private consumption, indicates a slow and fragile recovery.

For further information:
Helge J. Pedersen, Global Chief Economist, +45 33 33 31 26
Anders Svendsen, Senior Analyst, Poland, +45 33 33 39 51
Annika Lindblad, Analyst, the Baltics and Russia, +358 9 165 59940

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