Moldova Has 'Most Stable' Economy

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Europe's poorest country, Moldova, is basking in its new status as one of the world's most stable economies, even if it did take a global slump to earn it the accolade.

Moldova has been ranked fifth, well ahead of powerhouses like Japan and the United States, in an index compiled by London-based The Banker that rated countries on how well-protected they are from the slowdown.

The index concluded that the very reasons that have made Moldova an economic laggard -- a primitive financial system, low levels of lending and an economy based on farming -- now make it well-placed to withstand the slump.

"We have been classified in the top five countries with robust economies," Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, a 67-year-old Communist and former bakery manager, said this week. "To be honest, that was quite a surprise."