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The Euro on the Road East: Cash, Savings and Loans

  • Economics


The euro is already present throughout Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe today. Against this backdrop, the OeNB has been regularly conducting household opinion polls for years in the countries that make up this economic space. The survey questions place special emphasis on euro cash holdings. The results show that the choice to hold euro cash is based on a wide variety of motives, above all geographic proximity, coupled with increasing economic interlinkages, the desire to minimize risk, and tradition. Decisions to have savings in euro or to take out euro-denominated loans can be attributed to similar considerations. In addition, macroeconomic factors such as inflation and exchange rate expectations may also play a role. What clearly emerges is that the extent of currency substitution varies considerably from country to country. In terms of cash, Slovenia, which was about to adopt the euro at the time of the most recent poll, is the frontrunner (approximately 40% of the population reported euro cash holdings in the second half of 2006). Hungary is last, with only a 7% rate. In terms of savings and loans, Croatia posts the highest percentage according to both the OeNB survey and the aggregated bank balance sheet data (approximately 80% of all savings deposits and/or borrowings of households and enterprises are denominated in foreign currency). At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Czech Republic, a country with approximately 10% in both areas.

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