My buddy and former boss Mark Weisbrot has gone on a trip to Riga, Latvia, and was he found was not pretty. According to his column for the UK's Guardian newspaper, there's massive unemployment, crashing GDP, and what the IMF and the country's basically libertarian government wants to do is go harder, faster, stronger in the same lunatic direction.
What's really tragic is that, even if Latvian reformers were to gain the upper hand, they would be limited from reversing deregulation by the country's expansive WTO financial services commitments. According to a study by the IMF, Latvia - along with most former Eastern Bloc countries - rank among the highest in terms of the depth of their WTO financial services commitments, which include shackles from imposing limits on bank size and more. What's worse, is that as a result of the country's accession to the EU, it will be bound by the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services - an even more extreme deregulation document that binds the US and other rich nations.
Yet another sad case in point of the folly of the WTO getting in the business of propping up the banksters.