Estonia gets a green light to join the euro. Other Baltic states will benefit too
Surprises are Estonia's stock in trade. Its return to the world map in 1991 after a 51-year absence startled outsiders. So did what came next: a fast-growing economy, based on flat taxes, free trade and a currency board. In 2004 it confounded pessimists' expectations by joining the European Union and NATO. Now it is set to pull off another coup, gaining green lights from the European Commission and the European Central Bank in its bid to adopt the euro on January 1st 2011.
Many thought that highly unlikely. Only two years ago a property bubble in the country popped, rocking the banking system and sending GDP plunging by 14.1% in 2009. Doom-mongers said devaluation was inevitable. But they were wrong. Flexible wages and prices have helped the economy stabilise: unit labour costs fell by 7.5% in the final quarter of 2009. Exports were up by a sixth in the first quarter of 2010 and the central bank forecasts growth this year of 1% (although that depends on the pace of recovery in Sweden and other export markets).
May 13th 2010
From The Economist print edition
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Euro not bust