Mr. Ralph De Haas, Ms. Yevgeniya Korniyenko, Mr. Alexander Pivovarsky, and Ms. Elena Loukoianova
We use data on 1,294 banks in Central and Eastern Europe to analyze how bank ownership and creditor coordination in the form of the Vienna Initiative affected credit growth during the 2008–09 crisis. As part of the Vienna Initiative western European banks signed country-specific commitment letters in which they pledged to maintain exposures and to support their subsidiaries in Central and Eastern Europe. We show that both domestic and foreign banks sharply curtailed credit during the crisis, but that foreign banks that participated in the Vienna Initiative were relatively stable lenders. We find no evidence of negative spillovers from countries where banks signed commitment letters to countries where they did not.
Antonis Adam, Mr. James McHugh, and Mr. Theodora Kosma
This paper explores the effectiveness of the Central European Free Trade Area (CEFTA) and the Baltic Free Trade Area (BFTA). Estimates from a gravity model and bilateral trade data support the view that both CEFTA and BFTA helped expand regional trade and limit the emergence of a "hub-and-spoke" relationship between the CEECs and the European Union (EU). These empirical conclusions carry some important policy implications for the "second wave" of prospective EU members among Southeastern European Countries (SEECs). The paper argues that the SEECs should reconsider their bilateral approach to trade liberalization and move towards a multilateral free-trade area as exemplified by both the CEFTA and BFTA.