Transition in Crisis?

Thanks to the global economic crisis, Europe’s emerging markets have this year experienced their worst output collapse since the great “transitional recession” that followed the end of communism. Nevertheless, financial and trade integration is unlikely to be reversed - though many countries may move more slowly on completing the remaining reform agenda.

LONDON – Europe’s emerging markets have this year experienced their worst output collapse since the great “transitional recession” that followed the end of communism. Five countries are expected to suffer double-digit declines in GDP. Non-performing loans in the banking sector and unemployment continue to rise in many countries.

There is no doubt that the European transition region is in deep crisis. But is the transition from communism to a market economy itself in crisis? How have the institutions and policy frameworks that were the outcome of the transition process coped? Will the crisis lead to a backlash against market-oriented reforms?

While Central and Eastern Europe has been the emerging-market region to suffer the most in the crisis, it has generally avoided the currency collapses, systemic banking failures, and spikes in inflation that were the staple of previous crises. Given how deeply integrated the region has become with the rest of the world, this is remarkable.

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