International Conference: "Against the Odds: Lessons from the Recovery in the Baltics"
In late 2008, Latvia approached the International Monetary Fund and the European Union for financial support to help overcome the effects of the global financial crisis, the unwinding of an unsustainable credit boom, and acute banking pressures. Only a few years later, despite a deep downturn, Latvia has achieved key objectives of its now-completed EU-IMF program. Latvia’s Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania, were hit nearly as hard by the global crisis; they too responded with strong adjustment measures. In 2011, the three Baltic countries were the fastest growing economies in the EU.
The day-long conference brought together prominent policymakers, academics, and civil society representatives to discuss the policies that helped Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia overcome the crisis, restore economic growth, and make progress toward – and in Estonia’s case achieve – the goal of euro adoption. The conference also provided an opportunity to discuss the remaining challenges for the region, and to draw potential lessons for other European countries.
The conference addressed topics including what political, economic, or social factors made the adjustment in the Baltic countries feasible; how to prevent a reemergence of vulnerabilities in these countries; the role of the Fund and the EC in supporting the adjustment effort in Latvia and the Baltics; whether the adjustment in Latvia and the Baltics can be seen as a model for countries in the euro zone; and what lessons the euro area crisis holds for countries like Latvia and Lithuania that want to adopt the euro.
The conference was opened by the President of the Republic of Latvia Andris Bērziņš and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Minister of Finance Andris Vilks, and Bank of Latvia Governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs also participated. Other speakers included policymakers from Estonia, Lithuania, and Sweden, representatives of European and international institutions, the International Trade Union Confederation, and academia.
IMF video: How Latvia Recovered From the Crisis