Serbia’s first interest rate cut in 17 months is more dramatic than expected as the central bank looks to encourage a sluggish economy and bets that a recent inflation spike is temporary. But consumer price growth may still come in at double digits for 2013.
The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) this week cut its repo rate by 50 basis points to 11.25 per cent, more than the 25-point reduction forecast by a Bloomberg survey and other analysts. Continue reading »
In an election marred by allegations of poll-rigging and vote-buying, Bulgaria’s former ruling GERB party came out on top. But it is far from clear who will form the government once the dust settles. Two possible scenarios are a coalition between GERB and ultranationalists that would cause disquiet in Europe, or a return to power of two opposition parties still regarded with suspicion by many Bulgarians. Continue reading »
Stanishev (left), Borisov (right)
“Too many grannies mean an unfed child” is the Bulgarian equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
There are lots of fussy Balkan grannies competing in Sunday’s election – and they are likely to squabble for sometime afterwards about who gets to look after the feeble Bulgarian economy. Continue reading »
Kosovo’s government has hailed the sale of the territory’s most profitable enterprise as a breakthrough for investment. And as if to vindicate the optimists in Pristina, the sale of a 75 per cent stake in state telecom company PTK was followed days later by a landmark deal with Serbia that gives the Kosovan government control over the whole territory and opens the door to a deepening of relations with the EU.
But it remains to be seen whether the controversial sell-off will pave the way for lasting success. Continue reading »
Azerbaijan is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, transforming itself in a few years from a war-ravaged backwater into an increasingly assertive presence on the regional stage. Its emergence can largely be attributed to its hydrocarbon resources, marshalled by the government-owned State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (Socar).
Now Socar aims to play a central role in the diversification of gas supplies to Europe. Continue reading »
Generating at its peak 13 per cent of Serbia’s export earnings, Zelezara Smederevo steel mill on the banks of the Danube is a symbol of the supposed glory days of Serbian industry.
So when the plant’s government owners restarted one of its two furnaces on April 22 after nine months of inactivity, it seemed to bode well for Serbia’s manufacturing sector – and the rest of the country’s economy, which slipped back into recession last year. But the uneconomical mill’s future will be dependent on finding foreign investors, and reliable customers for its output. Continue reading »
Bulgaria’s farm sector has started to look up after years of under-investment and fragmentation, with export-oriented agro-industry doing well and smaller farms seeing opportunities to sell quality produce abroad. But damage wreaked during the 1990s is still far from repaired, holding the country’s farmers back from achieving their potential. Continue reading »
Serbia was regarded as an international pariah as recently as the last decade but it moved a step closer to joining the European Union on Monday, an acknowledgement of the Balkan country’s return to the continent’s mainstream. But the road to the EU is a long one and will be fraught with difficulty. Continue reading »
Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (R) and Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (L)
Just when many were expecting another breakdown in negotiations amid mutual recrimination and international hand-wringing, a breakthrough.
On Friday, Serbia and Kosovo inked a proposal agreement that should see both countries move closer to the EU, and that could prove a milestone in the quest to end one of Europe’s bitterest and most damaging territorial disputes. Continue reading »
A $500m Russian loan to Serbia may provide a brief fillip to the Serbian economy but it won’t be a substitute for a long-awaited deal with the International Monetary Fund. The loan came as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev underlined Moscow’s support for Serbia over the issue of Kosovo — and as European Union-brokered talks on the disputed territory stalled, putting Serbia’s EU accession process in question. Continue reading »
A $400m credit deal signed by Croatian energy company INA gives it the opportunity to push ahead with long-term growth plans while also providing a welcome vote of confidence in the country’s economy. Continue reading »
Slowly but surely, Romania is limbering up for its next sell-off of state-owned companies. Under IMF duress, the country may be about to shed some of its weighty burden of strategically important but failing enterprises.
On Friday, Reuters reported that Romania was launching the sale of a majority stake in CFR Marfa, the country’s rail freight operator. The starting price was set at 797.1m leu ($234m). Continue reading »
After eight rises in nine months, Serbia’s central bank has this week opted to keep interest rates on hold despite annual inflation in double digits.
The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) kept its repo rate at 11.75 per cent in the hope that consumer price inflation will moderate to within its 3.5-6.5 per cent target band by the end of the year even though it’s running at over 12 per cent. Fingers and toes crossed, then. Continue reading »
A caretaker government in Sofia will do its utmost to steady the tiller before May’s snap elections, following several weeks of street protests that toppled the previous administration and plunged Bulgaria into political uncertainty. But what happens after the poll is anybody’s guess. Many in Sofia’s political elite seem reluctant to grasp the poisoned chalice of leadership and their capacity to satisfy the demands of a restive and inchoate popular movement is limited.
On Wednesday, President Rosen Plevneliev ended weeks of speculation by naming Marin Raykov, Bulgaria’s ambassador to France, as caretaker prime minister until the May 12 elections. Continue reading »
Romania averted recession in the last quarter of 2012, but can only look forward to a long and slow slog this year as external and internal problems weigh heavy.
GDP crept forwards at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.1 per cent from the third quarter, and an unadjusted 0.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the National Statistics Institute (INS) announced on Wednesday, giving details of figures published last month. Continue reading »