The FDI-led Growth Regimes of the East-Central and the South-East European Periphery

Cornel Ban, Dragos Adascalitei

Publikation: Working paperForskning

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The East-Central European countries that joined the EU in the 2000s are the unsung success of economic development. This paper discusses the consolidation of an export-led growth model in this region by drawing on an alternative school of thought to Varieties of Capitalism: growth regimes. By focusing on three distinct time periods (2000-2008, 2008-2012 and 2012-2019), it shows that despite marginal shifts towards consumption-led growth through personal debt or wage increases, the core of the region’s economic model continues to be heavily dependent on exports. Combining IPE and CPE analytical frameworks, we show that the consolidation of the CEE export-led model has both systemic and national roots. Specifically, we argue that growing international competition from Asia in the beginning of 2000s has forced firms in Western economies to seek alternative sources of competitiveness that involved a mix of wage moderation at home and expansion towards the East. The internationalization of Western firms met capital hungry Eastern governments, which were all too happy to use FDI to restore the competitiveness of their outdated SOEs. Backed by a social bloc that involved domestic and foreign capital as well as workers in the tradeable sectors, the export-led growth model took off and generated growth rates well above those in core countries. The 2000s also saw an increase in debt fueled consumption, that partially compensated for the lack of wage growth in the region. The crisis provided an opportunity to put an end to hybridization and to reinforce the export-led component of growth through short-term austerity measures and deeper labor market reforms. These changes consolidated the export-led model that remained in place even amidst political reconfigurations that, at least rhetorically, aimed to fight the economic dependency of the region on FDI. After the crisis ended, however, the closing of the debt-finance consumption channel
combined with the German export boom to the rest of the world and local demographic decline to put upwards pressure on wage-financed consumption increases without inflationary or external balance problems. Yet despite historically low spreads in the region’s bond markets, this did not count as a full Kaleckian turn, however, with the region’s contribution of consumption to GDP growth remaining far below both consumption-led growth regimes and balanced ones.
UdgiverCentre for Business and Development Studies
Antal sider45
ISBN (Elektronisk)9788799972029
StatusUdgivet - 2020
NavnCBDS Working Paper