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Friday, October 30, 2009

Swedish Meteorite hits Latvia: a cynical hoax

This week Latvia fell on her face again, the trip wire and mud puddle were cordially sponsored by an aggressive Swedish Telecom company in an alleged attempt to cheer up the people.
The Local reports: Residents of Mazsalaca, a town located near the Estonian border, were startled on Sunday evening by a streak of light that zoomed across the sky, followed by a loud crash, setting the ground on fire.Emergency crews arrived on the scene to find a 10 metre-wide crater, still smoldering at the centre. The scene led some officials to speculate the explosion had been caused by a meteorite, according to several media reports. But experts soon cast doubt on the meteorite theory, citing the supposed meteorite's all-too-perfect characteristics."This is not a real crater. It is artificial," Uldis Nulle, a scientist at the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, told the Associated Press.
On Monday, telecoms operator Tele2 confirmed its role in carrying out the stunt, which Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece called "cynical mockery", according to the AFP news agency.
"Our goal is to inspire the people of Latvia," Janis Sprogis, a spokesperson for Tele2’s operations in Latvia, told the Latvian news agency LETA regarding the motivation behind the company’s hoax. "As we can see, with this Latvia made the news all over the world, everyone wants to know about Latvia, and this is not because of the crisis, the hard times and so, but because there is something creative and exciting happening here. It is a unique achievement and part of our communication," he said.
Unfortunately, the stunt did indeed achieve world-wide review and contributed further to Latvia's notorious reputation as a country to be watched (out for). When the dust settles and the government officials have been appeased with a belly-rub and an appropriate compensation, Tele2 will no doubt benefit from the action - as the saying goes, there is no such thing as negative publicity. However, sadly, all the action achieved with the local consumer is: show the people that some large companies are so out of touch with reality that they would rather burn money in a hole to fuel a scandal, than do something positive like build an orphanage; create a fund to subsidise a few hundred new businesses or reduce prices to help the people bear the weight of the crisis. Intelligent people recognize the stunt for what it is: a selfish, wanton squandering of funds on cheap publicity at the expense of the country's fragile reputation. Yes, the group got its promotion and has been noted around the world - so has the agency that came up with the "brilliant" campaign of "standing atop a drowning man's back to be seen better". I sincerely hope the government does not sell out and makes good on its threat to press criminal charges against the perpetrators of this dastardly lie. If this destructive creativity is not nipped in the bud, some "genius" might decide to burn down Old Riga or fake a tsunami to flood the town next year; just because he can afford to pay for the damage...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Latvia: Milestones on the Road to Economic Recovery

By Oleg K. Temple, October 2009.

So let's pick up where we left off, thus far we have examined the factors that significantly eroded the competitiveness of Latvia such as unwarranted wage increases and low productivity. We have established that Latvian policy makers under the firm hand and watchful eyes of the IMF, the European Commission and other powers have opted for the high road of domestic discipline and restrained spending while uprooting and eradicating problems that have disharmonized the economy. By choosing to crack down on the problems of the economy and reinforce the foundations for sustained competitiveness, the programme aims to avoid the ephemeral success of floating the Latvian lat, while sweeping the real problems under the rug. Experts agree that for the first time, the young country's government seems to be doing what is actually needed, but is it too little too late? Is there a chance that the crisis will continue to escalate until it boils over and the government buckles to the devaluation sermons of the Scandinavian press?

Read further here.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Baltic Tiger: In the Eye of the Storm

By Oleg K. Temple, October 2009.

Unemployment, defaults, foreclosure and bankruptcy have become the bywords of our time. The domino effect that hit the rest of Europe in 2008 was but a glancing blow to some countries such as Norway. The country domestically contained the crisis largely, by virtue of being outside the EU and continued full sail in true Norse fashion. Currency Expert Chuck Butler* comments that the Norwegian krone is HSBC's preferred G10 currency where the bank expects a sustained appreciation over the next 18 months. Whereas the crisis wasn't as kind to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, countries that were much more vulnerable, colliding with the recession maelstrom head-on. Indeed, the Baltic countries were caught off-balance in their 3rd stage of transition to the Economic Monetary Union of Europe. After a decade of unprecedented growth without foundations and safety measures, the inexorable economic law kicked in and the Baltic house of cards built on the shifting marsh of inexperience imploded with a bang. Today, the dust is beginning to settle and it is time to look to the future.

Read further here.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Editor’s Focus: Eye on Latvian Real Estate (part 1 of 2)

By Oleg K. Temple, September 2009.

It's no secret that of late, Latvia has become singled out as the "sick man of Europe" — a country crippled, maimed and burned by an overheated economy gone berserk, which has now coughed its last and ground to a halt. Doomsayers foretell a long cold winter ahead, before a slight seasonal revival in 2010.

Read further here.