CEE Explained: Oh Mikhail, what did you do?

25 августа 2015, 21:11

Did Mikhail know what he was unleashing when he unscrewed the bottle top? 

Former Soviet Union president Gorbachev may have anticipated a loosening of controls when he unveiled the twin pillars of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika' in 1986 on which he expected the success of his regime to be judged, but the loss of empire and the unraveling of the union went way beyond the line in the sand.

Lured into the embrace of limited market reform and democracy by the cracks exposed by the Chernobyl disaster of the same year, 'openness' and 'reconstruction' ultimately became the rope on which an embattled Gorbachev hung in the most humiliating manner, ceding power to Boris Yeltsin on December 25, 1991.

Fast forward almost 25 years and a multitude of nations with competing and different interests dot the map from Slovenia in the West to Ukraine and Russia (as far as the Urals in any case) in the East. Stretch that to incorporate the likes of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Siberian Russia and then you've got an expanse that pretty much traverses half the land mass of the globe.

Despite the obvious religious, cultural and socio-economic differences that mark the region, the globalisation of the last 25 years makes it very tempting to bracket Central & Eastern Europe together as, if not exactly a homogeneous whole, one that can broadly work in the same direction for a similar goal.

With conflict bubbling under and sometimes over in Ukraine, Turkey's hot war on its southern border and a whole host of other fractious hotspots through the region, this might seem an odd conclusion to draw but China's new Silk Road project is almost certainly the game changer.

As Saxo Bank chief economist Steen Jakobsen has been keen to point out, China has a plan for a link across Western China to Venezia in Italy and down to Cape Horn in Africa. And that puts Central & Eastern Europe in the firing line for a bonanza if it can get its act together.

Over the next two weeks, we'll be taking a look at what makes the region tick. From the geopolitical drivers that underpin the region as a whole to individual economies like Turkey, Poland, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, we will draw on Saxo Bank's own expertise and external analysts to give the lowdown on what really matters to traders at the macro and micro level.

We'll discuss Russia of course, but we'll cover so much more with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Greece all on the agenda. Every asset class will come under the microscope from forex to bonds and from equities to commodities.

Our check list is ready. We hope that traders both within this magnificently diverse region and around the globe have got theirs too for what should be a fascinating ride. 

This is what you did Mikhail. Thanks for opening up a world of opportunity!


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