Latvia stands out as the East European country hardest hit by the global financial crisis; it lost approximately 25 percent of its GDP between 2008 and 2010. It was also the most overheated economy before the crisis. But in the second half of 2010, Latvia returned to economic growth. How did this happen so quickly? Current Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who shepherded Latvia through the crisis, and renowned author Anders Åslund discuss why the Latvian economy became so overheated; why an IMF and European Union stabilization program was needed; what the Latvian government did to resolve the financial crisis and why it made these choices; and what the outcome has been. This book offers a rare insider's look at how a national government responded to a global financial crisis, made tough choices, and led the country back to economic growth.
This is a fascinating story of a huge credit boom, the resulting bust and deep recession, and of an amazingly radical and brave fiscal consolidation coupled with structural reforms. The authors rightly stress that economic and political lessons of Latvian stabilization and reforms go well beyond Latvia. These lessons are especially relevant for the members of the eurozone, as Latvia successfully resisted nominal devaluation of its currency and the eurozone countries do not have this option.
Leszek Balcerowicz, Former President of the National Bank of Poland
Against all odds, the Baltic countries regained their national independence twenty years ago. They did so heroically and peacefully, and they acted in the same way during the financial crisis. With little doubt, future generations of Latvians will look to Valdis Dombrovskis as the hero that salvaged their nation from this serious threat, returning his country to economic growth in only two years. In this fascinating book, Dombrovskis and Anders Åslund tell us the incredible tale of Latvia's road to recovery.
Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
The open and booming Baltic countries could do little to impede the flood of capital preceding the global financial crisis and they were hit hard, most of all Latvia. This timely and engaging book tells the story of how Latvia entered the crisis and how its government took the country out of this most severe crisis. Its essence is that good policy is possible, and that sensible voters reward such policies.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia
This is a fascinating and compelling story that should sound a cautionary note . . . Highly recommended.
About the Authors
1. Latvia's Post-Soviet Transition
2. The Boom, 2004–07
4. To Devalue or Not to Devalue
5. Implementation of the Stabilization Program, 2009
Leading Latvian Officials
Chronology of Events