Quote:It’s the euro zone Jim, but not as we know it.
Sixteen months after it joined the struggling currency bloc, Estonia is booming. The economy grew 7.6 percent last year, five times the euro-zone average.
Estonia is the only euro-zone country with a budget surplus. National debt is just 6 percent of GDP, compared to 81 percent in virtuous Germany, or 165 percent in Greece.
Shoppers throng Nordic design shops and cool new restaurants in Tallinn, the medieval capital, and cutting-edge tech firms complain they can’t find people to fill their job vacancies.
It all seems a long way from the gloom elsewhere in Europe.
Estonia’s achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider that it was one of the countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis. In 2008-2009, its economy shrank by 18 percent. That’s a bigger contraction than Greece has suffered over the past five years.
How did they bounce back? “I can answer in one word: austerity. Austerity, austerity, austerity,” says Peeter Koppel, investment strategist at the SEB Bank.
After three years of painful government belt-tightening, that’s not exactly the message that Europeans further south want to hear.......