In happier times

WHEN Alina, a Moldovan student, had her bank card rejected by a cash machine last week, her first thought was to wonder whether the bank had quietly gone under. Happily, the cause was a fleeting technical glitch—but her reaction was not far-fetched. The country’s financial system is limping badly. In November, thieves stole $1 billion from Moldova’s three biggest banks through a series of fraudulent loans and transfers. Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, is the poorest country in Europe; the theft amounted to more than an eighth of GDP. It has set in train a series of events that will leave the government unable to pay salaries by the end of the summer, according to the recently departed finance minister.

The fraud left the three banks insolvent, so the National Bank of Moldova, the central bank, has taken them over, injecting 12.5 billion Moldovan lei ($660m) in new capital. It did not have such a sum to hand, however—it had to create it. The huge expansion of the money supply caused inflation to double to 8% and the currency to drop. It has fallen by 20% against the dollar this year...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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