Financial Crisis in Moldova - Causes and Consequences
The introduction of Moldovan leu has been accompanied by a monetary stabilisation policy that until 1998 proved to be one of the most successful among FSU countries. The leu showed a remarkable stability and the rate of inflation was brought down to around 10% in 1997. However, fiscal policy was driven by inertia and pressure groups, reflecting the slow path of structural reforms and the general weakness of the state. Loose fiscal policy in turn reduced the determination in reforming state structures. Arrears and nettingout operations led to the development of the non-payment culture. At macroeconomic level, expansionary fiscal policy led to high absorption in the economy that was not met by the supply side response due to the impeded restructuring process, which fuelled imports and deteriorated trade balance. The ultimate result of the policy mix was the rapid accumulation of external debt and expenditure arrears. The unsustainability of both internal and external position of the state led to the inevitable financial crisis. The turmoil that followed in 1998 the crisis in Russia was a catalyst that speeded up the collapse of monetary stabilization. The capital account losses (capital flight) immediately brought the country to the verge of default. The abrupt and probably persistent loss of major export markets will affect the real economic activity over a longer period. More over, the crisis may create a window opportunity for accelerating Moldovan reforms. A critical situation makes the public and policy makers more likely to accept the painful measures that are necessary to revert the negative tendencies accumulated in recent years, while the large external debt makes the country fully dependent on the co-operation with international organizations, especially the IMF. Indeed, the new cabinet of young and liberal reformers voted in March 1999 initiated a more energetic program of reforms. Likewise, the decline of exports to Russia forced Moldovan enterprises to search new export possibilities for many producers trying to enter non-traditional western markets.