Ukraineâ€™s economy probably shrank as much as 23 percent in the first quarter of the year as the global financial crisis took its toll on the eastern European nation, President Viktor Yushchenko said. â€œThe economic contraction is expected between 20 percent to 23 percent in the first three months of the year,â€ said Yushchenko today, according to a statement posted on his Web site. â€œThe pace of the decline is one of the fastest in Europe.â€ Yushchenko urged the government to review the state budget for this year, which still assumes the economy will expand 0.4 percent, according to the statement. A global recession is compounding problems in eastern European economies, which are being battered by a lack of credit, weakening currencies and plunging demand for their products. Ukraine was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund with other emerging-market countries, including Hungary and Latvia, to boost its financial system in November.
Ukraineâ€™s economy shrank 8 percent in the fourth quarter, the first contraction since 1999. The state statistics committee is expected to release gross domestic product figures for the first quarter in late June.
Of course, we need confirmation and I would not be surprised if the number reported by the government turned out to be wrong (in either direction!), but the the initial shot across the bow suggests a veritable collapse.