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Until the middle of 2008, Latvia had the fastest developing economy in Europe. In 2003, GDP growth was 7.5% and inflation was 2.9%. Unemployment was 9% in 2003 - 2005; however, in 2009 it rose to 23% and is the highest in the European Union. Privatization is mostly complete, except for some of the large state-owned utilities. On May 1, 2004, Latvia joined the European Union. The Financial Crisis of 2008 is still affecting the Latvian economy, primarily as a result of the easy credit bubble that began building up during 2004. The bubble burst lead to a rapidly weakening economy, resulting in a budget, wage and unemployment crisis. Latvia had the worst economic performance in 2009, with annual growth rate averaging -18%.


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