Economic situation in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe lagged behind Western Europe in entering the recession, as it has done in recovering from it too. Most Eastern European countries entered the recession only in the second half of 2008 or during 2009 and started to recover during 2010. Falls in GDP, on an annual level, were recorded only during 2009. The first countries to fall into recession were the Baltic economies, Estonia and Latvia, which recorded a GDP fall in 2008. Those two countries, along with Lithuania, were the worst hit with recorded GDP fall of between 14% and 18% in 2009.
2010 brought about GDP growth for most countries, with the exception of Latvia, Romania, Croatia and Montenegro, according to the IMF estimates. All countries are expected to return to growth in 2011.
Eastern Europe is heavily dependent on Western European countries, whose recovery during the first half of 2010 helped the recovery of the region. Higher exports increased industrial production which had been falling for a number of quarters.
Internally, most countries are facing fiscal consolidation due to budget imbalances; growth is dependent on private demand, which is not strong enough yet to lead the economy.
As the domestic demand is low and exports are rising, Eastern European countries have reduced external imbalances which have been constantly rising during the growth period before the crisis.
Another weak point is investment, whose recovery has been slow. Construction has in most countries been falling during 2010.
Inflation pressures remain moderate in the region.
To sum up, Eastern Europe is gradually exiting the recession due to rebounding of the Western European economies. However, the stubbornly-high unemployment is making the rebound less visible to people living in the region.