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Friday, December 26, 2008

thought/links about the financial crisis in Ukraine

A couple blog posts about the economic situation in Ukraine popped up recently. They naturally caught my eye, since I have a connection to the place. My sister is there now with her husband, visiting his family..and I visited there (Kyiv and Odessa) a few years ago.

A couple days ago, there was this on Dealbreaker, titled, with tongue firmly in cheek, "It's Better in Ukraine", which was really just a quote of an AP story from Kyiv:

One thing that we would really like to see more of here in the United States is protests over economic and market conditions. We aren't quite sure why Wall Street types don't take to well... Wall Street after a 400 point drop in the Dow and start blowing their horns in unison.

For our money, the Ukraine has got it figured out:

Thousands of car drivers in the Ukrainian capital angrily blew their horns for several minutes Monday, protesting what they call incompetent and corrupt government policies that led to a devastating financial crisis.

The Ukrainian currency has lost some 40 percent of its value since September as a fall in the export of steel, the heart of the economy, led to a shortage of foreign currency. That was coupled with a loss of confidence in the hryvna and the banking system.

"We've had enough of the authorities," said one protester, Ihor Ratushny.

Damn authorities.

More sobering was this post from Krugman's blog, titled "The Second Great Depression Has Arrived..", which posts a graph of recent Ukrainian monthly industrial output, and compares it with an index of US industrial production--from 1928 to 1933. Take a look:

What has happened in Ukraine? I'm ashamed to say that I still don't really know/understand in detail; what I do know is that the country's fiscal sitation has been battered by the financial crisis, with the currency collapsing and the government seeking an IMF loan to stabilize the financial system. Somehow this is tied to the global deleveraging we're going through--but again, I don't know the details. The Dealbreaker item included above cites a drop in steel exports as the primary cause..but seems to me that the story is more complex than just that.

Here is a WP article from Oct headlined "Ukrain Seeks IMF Help to Weather Financial Crisis"...

..but like it gives less ofe an explanation. It lists some of the problems--a crash in the Ukrainian stock markets, a fall in the value of the currency, a run on the banks, and mentions the steel thing--but doesn't explain how the global financial crisis came to Ukraine.

For that matter, I don't fully understand Iceland either...

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