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Economy in Brief

January Inflation Creeps Up in Czech Republic, Latvia; Restrained in Albania
by Carol Stone February 8, 2006

Three Central and Eastern European countries reported January consumer prices today. Two of them, the Czech Republic and Latvia, show signs of upward creep in their CPI inflation, while Albania's is easing.

In the Czech Republic, the year-on-year CPI reached 2.9% in January, the highest since November 2004. As might be expected, energy-related categories, including housing costs, provide some of this upswing, but among other items, post and telecommunications fees have risen and home furnishing prices are falling more slowly.

Over the last couple of years, Latvia has had a markedly higher inflation rate than these and most other nations. In January, the CPI was up 7.5% above January 2005, continuing a trend that began in the spring of 2004. Several items apart from energy costs are contributing on a sustained basis: food prices, home furnishings, health care, and hotels and restaurants. In addition, a large increase in seasonally adjusted (by Haver) prices for clothing occurred just in January, ending a period of moderation. With the diversity of line items increasing, this inflation tendency appears more embedded than that in the Czech Republic. In Latvia, that is, inflation may be feeding on itself.

Finally in Albania, prices remain quite temperate. The January year-on-year gain is only 1.4%, with outright declines still evident in food, clothing and furniture. Unfortunately, data on these various items begin only in October 2004, so no trend can yet be analyzed. The Bank of Albania signed a new "Letter of Intent" with the IMF just at end-January, pledging to maintain low inflation along with other commitments to facilitate raising the standard of living in the nation. Thus, while there are only limited data on other aspects of the Albanian economy, the central bank and the statistical agency "INSTAT" are monitoring price behavior quite closely.

All these data appear in Haver's EMERGECW database, along with such neighboring nations as Lithuania, Slovakia and Croatia, among others.

December/December
CPI (Yr/Yr % Changes) Jan 2006 Dec 2005 Nov 2005 Oct 2005
2004 2003 2002
Czech Republic 2.9 2.2 2.4 2.5 2.8 1.0 0.6
Albania 1.4 2.1 3.0 3.4 2.2 3.2 1.7
Latvia 7.5 6.9 7.3 7.5 7.3 3.6 1.4
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