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Are Baltic Banks Client-Friendly?

02/11/2009, 08:42

—a look at the "Baltic Banking 2009" report by EPSI Baltic

By Oleg K. Temple, November 2009.

Since 2004 EPSI Baltic has been monitoring the pulse of the consumer trends in the Baltic region, analysing numerous public polls and studies in the financial, telecommunication, general insurance and other fields. The latest EPSI study focuses on the banking sector of the three Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. No one is shocked that during this time of global economic downturn the satisfaction rating of clients takes a dive, on the contrary, what raises eyebrows is the reaction, or rather lack thereof of the Norwegian and Estonian consumer.

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

19/10/2009, 07:38

By Oleg K. Temple, October 2009.

Unless you've read part one of this article (and perhaps even if you have), you may think I've gone soft in the head when you read the next phrase: it is a good time to be in Latvia! Sure, prices for real estate have crashed through the basement and (largely due to the 3% VAT increase in January this year with another +2% VAT hike looming in 2010) commodity prices have escaped up the chimney taking consumers' income with them in a puff of smoke.

Latvia: Milestones on the Road to Economic Recovery

02/10/2009, 13:23

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?

Baltic Tiger: In the Eye of the Storm

01/10/2009, 20:45

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.

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

24/09/2009, 10:33

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.

Editor’s Focus on Business

09/09/2009, 11:19

By Oleg K. Temple, September 2009.

This month we're kicking off a new series of articles entitled "Editor's Focus" with the aim of illuminating the dark recesses of business to give you an insight of how experts navigating the dangerous waters of mid- and post-crisis economies are keeping their decks dry.

Join me, Oleg K. Temple on a thrilling quest for clarity amidst the chaos and meet the giants that thrive atop the tough, green-leafed beanstalks of business.

Doldrums at the Shodō 書道 Calligraphy “seminar” of Riga “Takai” 2009

22/08/2009, 20:27

By Oleg K. Temple, August 2009.

Truly, the organizers of this travesty need to procure an unabridged copy of "PR for Dummies" and try to grasp the basic idea at the very least.

Shoddily nailed together by a Latvian Kendo club this event was probably the sorriest display of incompetence I have had the misfortune to witness. The chaps should just stick to their fencing and leave organization of important events to the professionals.

Magical Sounds of Japan at an Amber Sunset

20/08/2009, 08:36

By Oleg K. Temple, August 2009.

On Monday, the 10th of August, 2009 the Latvian Spa Town of Jūrmala resonated to the deep, bold sounds of Joji Hirota (廣田丈自) and the Taiko Drummers. Joji Hirota is an internationally-renowned master of percussion who studied under the great Maestro ltto Ohba of Hokkaido. Since the 1970s Master Hirota has been forging his skill to perfection with fiery passion and dedication through countless concerts around the world. Over the years, Master Hirota has seeded numerous percussion ensembles and trained countless disciples in his unique understanding and style of drumming.

Internet Advertising: Friend or Foe?

20/08/2009, 07:53

By Oleg K. Temple July 2009.

People often ask me these days "What's the point of spending on ads when the market is down for the count and dry? It's hard enough for an SME to keep its head above the waves in all this chaos, why spend more?"

Latvian Folk Costumes

20/08/2009, 07:43

By Oleg K. Temple, 2008.

Latvian Folk Costume Review — As of the 22nd All Latvian Song and the 12th Dance Festivals, the Folk Art Centre E. Melngailis renewed the practice of awarding prizes to the best-presented Latvian folk costume.

The Art Nouveau architecture of Riga

20/08/2009, 07:23

By Oleg K. Temple, 2006.

A walk around Riga is like a tour in a museum of architecture-covering periods from Gothicism to Classicism. Riga's tourist cynosure, however, is without doubt the astounding abundance of Art Nouveau architecture. In few other cities is its presence so dominating as here.

Basic Real Estate Valuation

20/08/2009, 06:53

By J.S. Silver.

Given the current interest (dare I say hysteria) associated with investing in dirt and buildings, I thought it might be interesting for our readers to have a quick, dirty manual on real estate valuation. My perspective comes from years in the industry as well as some time learning at the knee of some of the better real estate minds in academia.

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