Eastern Europe Struggles to Recover

You could take it as an original formulation for resolving the age-old quarrel over what makes a pessimist and what an optimist: Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said last month that the figures for GDP growth (or rather its deep decline) "show signs of stabilization." So while in the first quarter GDP fell 18 percent compared with the same period last year, the drop in the second quarter was 19.6 percent. And now the quotation from the official reports that amused me the most (and which probably sent a chill down the spines of state employees, who from this month are receiving essentially subsistence-level wages): "At least the situation isn't as dramatic as some experts forecast—minus 22-28 percent."

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