While the April 2012 edition of the IMF's "World Economic Outlook" mentions an overall 5.3% growth for CEE economies in 2011, which is not at all a bad figure, the results recorded across the region are, in fact, quite diverging: from the Turkish and the Baltics high speed growth rates, of 5.5 to over 7%, to the much lower rate, of 1.7%, recorded in Bulgaria, Hungary or Czech Republic, or to the almost flat evolution of Croatia. Again, depending on the local factors, the economic development in the region was uneven, but some characteristics are common in most countries: an economic slowdown in the last part of the year, predicting a lower dynamic for 2012, not spectacular inflation rates, but rather high unemployment figures and weak purchasing power of the population. While some of the economies are close to regain their pre-recession GDP levels and other have already overstepped this "psychological threshold", most of the ordinary people of the region are still struggling with the day by day expenses.
We are finally looking to the "big CEE picture" for 3Q2011. Denominated in European currency, the total figures show a decrease of 0.7% in written premiums, to EUR 24.72 billion. Beside the obvious market shrinking registered in Croatia, Hungary and Romania, most of the negative regional trend came from the significant depreciation of the national currencies in countries as Poland and Hungary, which affected the results' conversion in Euro. A rough estimate shows that the weighted nominal growth of the CEE insurance market - calculated in local currencies - stood at about 4.28%.
In the CEE economies, growth will slow from 4.2% in 2011 to about 2.5% in 2012, as both domestic and external demand moderate, states the latest World Economic Outlook's upgrade document released this autumn by the International Monetary Fund. Although still far from the pre-crisis dynamics, it seems the CEE economies are doing well and are also entitled to an optimistic attitude with regard to their future. Of course, as always, there are still some question marks pending and also a few warning signs. "Downside risks to the outlook are significant and larger than at the time of the previous edition of the Regional Economic Outlook. Although more sluggish global economic growth has always been a possibility, quelling the tensions in euro area debt markets has proved increasingly challenging. If tensions were to escalate further, the economic and financial outlook for the euro area would darken considerably and the repercussions for emerging Europe would be dire".
"In Europe, the recovery is proceeding modestly. Overall, real activity
in the region remains below its potential level and unemployment is
still high". This is, in short, how the IMF characterizes the evolution
of European economies in 2010, according to the Global Financial
Stability Report released by the international institution in April,
All in all, the CEE insurance market shows clear signs of recovery, although the happy times of "double digit" growth rates will probably return only in a couple of years, if they will ever return in the form we were used to in the last decade before crisis. Again Poland, as the main player in the region, is recovery driver. In fact, by placing a significantly above average growth rate, the Polish market starts to regain part of its lost regional weigh. Also the Czech Republics' market improved its share with about one percentage point, while Hungarian one is slowly, but constantly loosing small fractions of its regional weight. Since 2008, Romania also lost almost 1 percentage point of its share.