Posts tagged 'Latvia'

Caption this — lat there be euros edition

Olli Rehn (left) and Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian prime minster, (right) regrettably seem to have got lost in a Powerpoint presentation. Read more

‘Who, me the next Cyprus?’, Latvia edition

Compare (Reuters, March 25):

“It was made clear to our Latvian friends that if they want to join the euro, they should not provide a haven for Russian money exiting Cyprus,” a euro zone central banker said.

Contrast (Mr Kristaps Zakulis — financial regulator, Riga, April 24): Read more

In defence of Latvia

It’s fair to say that Latvia’s post-crisis economic trajectory divides opinion. Some see its ultra-austerity approach as a triumph, others as deeply regressive. But it’s hard to argue with the notion that the country has taken a lot of pain and that things are gradually improving. Read more

We’ll settle this internal devaluation question quicker than we thought

Unable to benefit from currency depreciation, the peripherals have been urged to seek other ways to improve their balance sheets by means such as ‘internal devaluation’ — regaining competitiveness by lowering costs, particularly wages.

One of the criticisms of “internal devaluation” is that it’s a slower method of improving competitiveness than an old fashioned currency devaluation. There are also questions about whether it even works. Read more

Interventions and bank queues in Eastern Europe

Reuters is reporting that Poland’s central bank stepped into the spot market for the fourth time in less than three months on Wednesday to help support the zloty versus the euro, which was once again nearing levels last seen in 2009.

But the Bank’s intervention seems to be ever less detectable in terms of price trends: Read more

Greek lessons from John Major, Latvia and Ireland

So, bondholders (if they “agree”) will give Greece more of a fighting chance to tackle its debt burden. But Greece will also have to pull its own weight.

Without its own currency, what is the best course of action? John Major, former UK prime minister, proposes (in Thursday’s FT) a strategy akin to Latvia’s ‘internal devaluation’: (emphasis ours) Read more

EU seeks to speed funds to peripherals

Greece and other stricken countries will have faster and easier access to tens of billions of euros in European Union funds under a plan to help stimulate their economies, the FT says. The plan, to be unveiled on Monday, would not involve extra assistance but would ease co-financing rules for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, Latvia and Romania so that they would not have to put up as much of their own cash in order to collect EU funds. According to internal calculations, the six countries could see their co-financing costs reduced by about €3bn ($4.3bn) over the next two years. But officials hope the plan will have a much bigger impact by unlocking tens of billions of euros in EU funds, which many of those governments are entitled to but have struggled to claim.

Sovereigns of fortune (a debtor’s prison break)

In 2008-2009, a sovereign crack commando unit was sent to debtor’s prison by a bond vigilante court for a crime they didn’t commit.

(Well, actually, private-sector balance sheet losses, exchange rate collapse, all sorts of dubious government decisions, that kind of thing — still hard to say who committed what, bit of a mess really.) Read more

When Latvian interbank rates trade through Euribor

Here’s an interesting datapoint unearthed up by BNP Paribas’ emerging markets deak on Monday.

The Latvian interbank rate — Rigibor — is trading through Euribor for the first time in four years… Read more

Norway doesn’t need no stinkin’ stress tests

The European Union’s banking stress tests cover 91 banks in 20 countries. Seven of those financials are Nordic — but none of them are Norwegian, reports FT Alphaville. Norway is of course, not a member of the EU, but it keeps close ties, and seems to have had the option to participate in the tests — if it wanted. Only, it really didn’t. The head of the Norwegian FSA, a Mr Bjørn Skogstad Aamo is quoted in Thursday’s Dagens Naeringsliv saying there was “no national need” for its banks to participate in the stress test. Read more

Deutsche Bank, Latvian bridges and EVFs

Risk — the magazine that first reported the story of Goldman’s Trojan currency swaps — has done some digging into how the Latvian capital of Riga managed to “lay their hands on spending money without reporting it as debt”:

When the Latvian government told Riga it couldn’t borrow the equivalent of $1 billion to build a bridge over the river Daugava in 2005, Deutsche Bank stepped in. Its solution – enhanced vendor financing (EVF) – would provide the money in a series of payments, allow the city a five-year grace period before repayments start this year and not need to be reported as debt, the bank claimed. The downside was the expense: 46% of the total 567 million lati bill for the bridge was interest. Read more

Where’s the Greek CΣΣ contagion?

FT Alphaville mentioned on Monday that the CDS market did not appear to be implying much of a contagion-effect for Central and Eastern Europe in connection with troubles in the Hellenic Republic.

And having on Thursday noted the widening spread between Greek government bonds and German bunds, a basic measure of the risk premium investors want in exchange for holding Hellenic debt, we feel the need to repeat the question. Read more

Moody’s sees sovereign states a-suffering

Ratings agency Moody’s takes up the sovereign subject again on Tuesday, with its 2010 outlook on sovereign risk. And the mood, as the below chart should demonstrate, is rather miserable.

Anothery misery index - Moody's Read more

Greece default or no?

Does the market believe Greece when it says there’s “absolutely” no risk the country will default on its debt?

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, seems to be (sort of) yes. At least in the case of the CDS market. Read more

Latvian house prices fall 59.7% in Q3 (y/y)

The Global Property Guide’s quarterly house price report was published on Wednesday offering some sobering statistics on global real-estate prices in the third quarter.

To wit, the fact that “price falls in several countries have been much larger than house price rises anywhere and include unprecedentedly severe falls in Latvia (-59.7% year to date), the UAE (-48.1%), Bulgaria (-28.7%), Iceland (-21.2%), Russia (-19.5%) and Slovakia (-15.3%) (all figures inflation-adjusted).” Read more

Latvia intervention watch

FT Alphaville is (as ever) on Latvian currency intervention and devaluation watch, this Monday morning.

Last week, the Latvian government agreed to cut its budget deficit — to help stave off a full-blown currency devaluation, while satisfying demands from the IMF and EU. Both these organisations are due to return to Latvia in early November for a second review of its loan programme to the Baltic country. They’ll be expecting the local government to have seriously tightened up on fiscal policy, with a sharp eye on budget cuts. Read more

CDS report: The week in perspective

Markit’s Gavan Nolan wrote this CDS report
A sense of foreboding enveloped the credit markets last week. A plethora of economic indicators – leading and lagging – gave investors cause to question the V-shaped recovery being priced into credit spreads. The Markit PMI reports, particularly the UK Manufacturing PMI, suggested that the nascent recovery was already losing momentum. In the US, the ISM Manufacturing Survey – a similar report to the PMI – also disappointed. Investors feared the worst ahead of September’s US non-farm payrolls report. But the 263,000 jobs lost and 9.8% unemployment rate surpassed even the worst expectations. “Jobless recovery” became the latest entrant to the economic lexicon.

Sections of the commentariat became more vocal in declaring that the “V” was illusory; “W” was the letter future students would see in their GDP charts. But they moved on to the back foot quicker than they could have imagined after another set of leading indicators pointed towards an exit from recession. The Markit UK PMI for the services sector painted a different picture than its manufacturing counterpart, showing the strongest rise in activity since September 2007. The performance of the US ISM services index was not quite as impressive, but the 50.9 reading was again better than expected and the first month of expansion in nearly a year. Unsurprisingly, spreads tightened on the news. Read more

On the matter of renewing confidence in the Latvian economy

One thing the financial crisis has taught the Western world is that when it comes to defending your reputation, the CEE states are masters of their game.

Who can forget their unity over evil currency speculators? Read more

A CEE stress snapshot

A quick overview of the situation facing CEE on Wednesday:

Latvia
- The government’s latest debt auction fell flat on Wednesday, with investors picking up only 2.04m of  the 24m lats worth of debt on offer.
- Five-year credit default swaps for Latvia CDS widened to 513.8 bps from 479.8 bps the day before.
- The country still has to pass fiscal reforms necessary to meet IMF conditions for aid.
- Fitch has warned the country risks a further ratings downgrade.
- Government: one administration already lost, latest coalition reportedly cracking up. Read more

Latvia preparing for devaluation?

On Tuesday, we reported that Latvia’s government was taking legislative steps to change the sums lenders could collect on outstanding mortgages to better reflect the current market value of the properties.

We argued this was probably a move to sidestep the need for devaluation of the local currency — the lat. Read more

Defcon Latvia, Swedish krona edition

Another day, another Latvia development.

Although, as Danske Bank note, it’s getting harder to determine what’s really going on the ground. From their report on Tuesday: Read more

Defcon Latvia, again

Economic troubles have been bubbling away in Latvia for months, but the country’s government has so far stood strong in the face of rising pressure to devalue the currency to help mitigate some of the negative economic effects.

At the weekend, though, the clearest signals yet emerged that the country might be about to buckle: the government announced it was making budget cuts of 225m lats rather than the 275m lats expected, a clear contravention of its agreed terms with the IMF, which stipulated a cut of 500m lats. Read more

Another Latvia wobble

Latvia’s parliament failed to pass a critical property tax hike plan on Thursday which was closely connected to conditions agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund for its €7.5bn bailout.

Analysts are now worried the vote’s failure could reflect a major crack in the government coalition, threatening Latvia’s defence of its euro peg. As can be seen in the Finance Ministry’s letter of intent, there’s still an extensive list of measures and conditions Latvia has to meet to qualify for financing. Read more

Moody’s stands by Latvia, for now

Moody’s said on Thursday it was ready to stand by its investment-grade rating of Latvia, but only while international financial bodies continued to provide extraordinary financial support to the country.

In its annual sovereign credit report of the country, the rating agency said it was concerned Latvia’s economy might struggle to rebound in the current environment. In short, if not for international financial support, Latvia’s rating could be several notches lower. Read more

Latvia’s not for turning

The governor of the Bank of Latvia, Ilmars Rimsevics, took a heroic stand on CNBC Wednesday morning, rubbishing all talk of potential devaluation and accusing anyone of having suggested as much of being hugely misguided on the subject of Latvia, probably not even knowing the capital of the country is Riga.

Some choice quotes: Read more

Swedbank sweats

Things may be getting better around the world, but as can be seen in Swedish lender Swedbank’s results, loan impairments originating from the Baltic region are still growing meteorically:

Swedbank impairments - Swedbank Read more

S&P cuts Baltic states’ ratings

S&P on Monday cut Latvia’s credit rating for the fourth time in a year as the country revealed its economy shrank by a fifth in the second quarter. The downgrade highlights the plight of the Baltic region amid the EU’s deepest recession. S&P cut Latvia’s sovereign rating one notch to junk status from BB+ to BB, and downgraded neighbouring Estonia to “A-”. Latvia is the only one of the three Baltic states to have so far turned to the IMF for help but Lithuania has admitted it may have to follow suit after suffering a 22.4% in second quarter GDP. More detail on FT Alphaville.

More pain for Latvia: shrinking GDP and a sovereign downgrade

It’s only Monday, but Latvia is already having a poor week.

First up: a whopping decline in GDP. The country’s gross domestic product shrank by 19.6 per cent in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago, according to an estimate by the Latvian statistics office. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had been expecting a decline of 22 per cent, but a near 20 per cent fall is nothing to sneeze at. Read more

A quick turn of events in Latvia

There was joy on Sunday night in Latvia as reports suggested the government had — after a week-long stalemate — finally agreed upon terms for the country’s second instalment of IMF financing.

But that wasn’t to last long.  As Reuters reported on Monday: Read more

Latvian banks face reserve shortfall

Here’s an interesting story from Reuters on Latvian banks (our emphasis):

 LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) – Banks in Latvia have fallen short of the central bank’s reserve requirements since late June, with the daily shortfall hitting as much as 234 million lats ($473.2 million), central bank data shows. Read more