Skip to main content

Winter chill

As I have come north from Lithuania, the weather has grown more wintry.

Riga, yesterday was down to about minus 10, and catching the early flight up to Tallinn this morning has brought me to even chillier climbs: it is currently minus 19. I will not make smug comments about the chaos that a little snow and temperatures of about zero have brought to London. It just irritates me that when winter comes to Southern England, their disorganization makes the tiny problem into a crisis.

It is the first time that I have done all three Baltic Capitals in a single week for some years. It is interesting seeing the relative progress. Despite Labour shortages which, in Vilnius, mean that there are very few taxis, the overall picture is extremely positive. The construction boom in Vilnius is particularly impressive. Meanwhile Riga has become a bustling hub for the whole region with plenty of flights across Europe, and now beyond, offered by airBaltic, the SAS owned dynamic little airline. Ryanair are looking to make Riga a regional hub too, with the prospect of a whole new second terminal being constructed. Compared to the bright lights of Riga, Tallinn seems a little sleepy, but energetic young entrepreneurs are creating a very impressive change in the economy.

Though there are concerns that Latvia might be overheating economically, it is hard to find any particular trigger that would cause immediate disruption. Though times are particularly buoyant, and a slow down will come soon (ish), there is still much to admire in all three countries. Not least their ability to cope with bad winter weather!

Meanwhile I received a phone call yesterday from a friend at the British Embassy in Tallinn. Rather charmingly, the President of Estonia has decided to confer a decoration on me to celebrate the 89th anniversary of the founding of the Republic. I am touched and also delighted to see that several friends have also received (probably much more deserved) recognition too.


Paul Evans said…
My job involves researching the Latvian and Lithuanian legal markets, I've been calling Riga from snowy London all morning. Such friendly people in both countries, I used to run our Iceland desk and they were a truly miserable bunch.
The disorganisation in southern England is because the only weather we can actually cope with is a light drizzle...whether this is because it is the mean or the modal of our actual weather, I don't know. Of course, that would assume that we were capable of planning for any type of weather at all....
Anonymous said…
Well, Cicero, congrats on the Esto-gong, well done.

However, what AirBaltic should really do is to offer cut-down prices for intra-Baltic flights. It's more expensive to fly from Riga to Tallinn than to go via Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki, Copenhagen, and even London -- and I certainly do not mean just Ryanair and Easyjet! This is a huge tourism potential.

Popular posts from this blog

Concert and Blues

Tallinn is full tonight... Big concerts on at the Song field The Weeknd and Bonnie Tyler (!). The place is buzzing and some sixty thousand concert goers have booked every bed for thirty miles around Tallinn. It should be a busy high summer, but it isn´t. Tourism is down sharply overall. Only 70 cruise ships calling this season, versus over 300 before Ukraine. Since no one goes to St Pete, demand has fallen, and of course people think that Estonia is not safe. We are tired. The economy is still under big pressure, and the fall of tourism is a significant part of that. The credit rating for Estonia has been downgraded as the government struggles with spending. The summer has been a little gloomy, and soon the long and slow autumn will drift into the dark of the year. Yesterday I met with more refugees: the usual horrible stories, the usual tears. I try to make myself immune, but I can´t. These people are wounded in spirit, carrying their grief in a terrible cradling. I try to project hop

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo

KamiKwasi brings an end to the illusion of Tory economic competence

After a long time, Politics seems to be getting interesting again, so I thought it might be time to restart my blog. With regard to this weeks mini budget, as with all budgets, there are two aspects: the economic and the political. The economic rationale for this package is questionable at best. The problems of the UK economy are structural. Productivity and investment are weak, infrastructure is under-invested and decaying. Small businesses are going to the wall and despite entrepreneurship being relatively strong in Britain, self-employment is increasingly unattractive. Red tape since Brexit has led to a significant fall in exports and the damage has been disproportionately on small businesses. Literally none of these problems are being addressed by this package. Even if the package were to stimulate some kind of short term consumption-led growth boom, this is unlikely to be sustainable, not least because what is being added on the fiscal side will be need to be offset, to a great de