At times when a major financial crisis is haunting the whole world, there is no country to see things in bright colors. But Romania is not any country, which is why not even the crises are what they should be. Even more, there are clues that the global crisis is the medicine Romanian economy needs. After years of record economy growth, based mainly on wild consume fueled by abundant bank credits, Romania needs a smooth 'landing' not to shake the 20 million 'passengers' aboard.
But the global crisis is a perfectly good reason for restricting consume. "The speed of credit expansion continues to be our main concern", Mugur Isarescu, a governor of the National Bank of Romania, has recently mentioned, before proposing draconian measures likely to come in force next autumn. Banks will have to calculate the debt rate on grounds of income 20% larger, at most, than that stated to the Fiscal Administration. Correlated to the so-called stress test, this method is making room for bureaucratic procedures that will discourage many fans of credits.
On the other hand, it is true that ordinary Romanians are more and more worried about the more expensive electricity, gas and bank debts lively crowding in the last years. So this is the first time after 1989 that they have got to think more of savings up than of consume. According to the latest data from the National Bank of Romania, there has been a substantial increase of bank deposits, also motivated by more attractive interests. Romanians continue to save up currency and most of the money come from Romania's famous migrants.
Mugur Isarescu is sure to like the fact that Romanians are growing thriftier. But the companies who have made great use of the credit boom are sure to dislike it. Fields such as mobile phones, real estate and electric devices, which have been intensely promoting the "now and much" slogan, can already feel that Romanians' pockets are changing the destination. The growing profit and sale, achieved with no efforts on a market that swallows anything and in any quantity, look like history. Companies will have to start real competition, provide kit services and supply for targets that have seemed uninteresting so far. One indirect effect of the crisis on the Romanian market is the fact that competition is growing up, which will make companies resist on a market that will offer growth rates comparable to those in the remaining Europe from now on. And this is already happening, in fact. Step by step, Romania is leaving the Wild West consumerism. So who can't keep up with it will be off market.
2008 has already brought retail bankruptcy. As far as real estate is concerned, the sale of newly built flats has been rather slow lately and many developers have postponed projects because of the more and more difficult access to bank credits. As for the already achieved projects, companies are fighting for customers. Potential buyers are being lured with bonuses such as new cars or free parking.
Companies' competition for a market rate can be but benefic to the ordinary citizen, for this fight brings better prices and services. As for economy in general, the growing savings up and the restrictions to bank credits mean cooling of engines at times when inflation and current account deficit are pushing the overheating.
Although it seems hard to believe, the crisis causing famous banks to collapse and leaving Americans homeless may have a positive impact on Romania. But mind you that this is an electoral year. And there is no world crisis comparable to such a thing in Romania...