The Fall and Rise and Fall Again of the Baltic States
Archived Articles 25 Jun 2009  EWR
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A recessionary tale from Europe's new basket cases.

Edward Lucas, June 22, 2009

Portraying the Baltic states in their current mess requires more than words and numbers. Only an old-fashioned chart, with a sea monster, a whirlpool, or perhaps a skull and crossbones, would begin to do justice to the plight of what were until recently the shining success stories of the ex-communist world. Eating a meal in a deserted restaurant in one of the fine old capital cities of Tallinn, Riga, or Vilnius gives a sense of the collapse.

So does the silence of the half-finished construction sites, the rock-bottom rates in the glitzy hotels that shot up during the boom years, and the fall of a Latvian government under the weight of the current troubles. The Baltic states today are prime candidates to be the new basket cases of Europe, with their double-digit economic declines, beleaguered governments, and shriveling state spending.

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