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Economist: Ailing Fast: Bad news from Latvia raises fears of contagion across eastern Europe

October 7, 2009


The Economist assesses the potential impact of a failed Latvian economy on Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania.

The patient emerges from intensive care, hurls the medicine at the doctors and bites his blood donor. That may be an unfair characterisation of the recent news from crisis-stricken Latvia, but it is pretty much how outsiders see it. The prime minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, is refusing to make the spending cuts mandated by international lenders and has floated a new law that would partially expropriate foreign banks' loan books.

It would be worrying enough if the European Union's weakest economy defaults, devalues or implodes. But what scares outsiders more is the effect of Latvia's latest wobble on other ex-communist economies, which until this week seemed to be surviving the financial crisis with less trouble than some had feared.

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