Generally high profits were due to factors whose influence has already expired or is expiring. Other factors that had negative impact on the results struck simultaneously in the first quarter and will exert their influence in the coming months. The benefits of the strengthening economy will probably be felt by banks only at the end of the year.
Ukraine's Maidan revolution, the seizure of Crimea by Russia, war against Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country and a deep economic recession have sent a torrent of Ukrainians either seeking shelter elsewhere in Ukraine or escaping east to Russia or west to the EU in search of a better and safer life. The figures are devastating: over 850,000 internally displaced persons and many more who have fled abroad.
Reform is on the agenda in Kiev. After over twenty years deformed by corruption and incomplete reforms, the demand for “European standards” – an umbrella term for values such as greater transparency and rule-of-law – is stronger than ever. But with Ukraine facing a dramatic recession and a drawn-out conflict in the country’s east, many fear the government will again fail to seize the opportunity to take the painful steps needed to modernise.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania experienced the global financial crisis in a dramatic fashion, enduring the world’s worst recessions, followed by drastic austerity measures and then a return to growth – prompting some to see them as a model of ascetic virtue, while others berated them for hair-shirted overkill.