This staff report on the Republic of Kosovo’s 2013 Article IV Consultation focuses on economic and financial developments. Kosovo’s economy is excessively dependent on inflows from the diaspora. It is found that while these inflows support incomes, they finance primarily consumption and investments in nontradables, such as real estate or services, and contribute little to the build-up of productive capacity. Goods exports are less than 10 percent of GDP and concentrated in sectors with a low-value added component, notably metals. A coherent strategy is needed to improve competitiveness, foster the development of a tradable sector, and lay the basis for self-sustained growth.
As Albania has succeeded in reducing inflation to very low levels, understanding the driving forces behind the behavior of the price level becomes increasingly important for policy design. In particular, persistent changes in relative prices may contribute to movements of the aggregate price level, and policymakers need to decide to what extent such effects should be accommodated. The present study provides insight into the nature and extent of relative price adjustments during the transition period, and argues that some of their inflationary effects should not be resisted.
Inflation in Albania fell rapidly once comprehensive stabilization policies and market-oriented reforms were launched, in contrast to other transition economies, where price liberalization was generally followed by persistently high inflation. The early reduction of underlying inflation is confirmed by trimmed mean estimates of core inflation, which use a central portion of the commodity-wise inflation distribution. This also demonstrates the usefulness of estimating core inflation for transition economies. The early success in curbing inflation is attributed to the extremely broad scope of initial price liberalization coupled with key supporting measures. It also gives hope for early recovery from Albania’s 1997 economic crisis.