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Tag Archive for Economy

Specter of ’98 Default Haunts Russians as Ruble Weakens

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – October 18, 2014) As the Russian ruble plunges to repeated record lows and the Central Bank ramps up market interventions to defend it, few want to mention Aug. 17, 1998. On that day, amid budgetary chaos and dwindling foreign currency reserves, Russia abandoned its support of the

Russia Sanctions Update series

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Paul Backer, an American attorney based in Moscow, recently has offered the following original contributions to the JRL on the subject of sanctions and the response by business and legal counsel. Backer, pbacker@skalalaw.com, is with Skalaw Law, online at skalalaw.com. Part I: Russia sanctions: implementing client sanctions policies – Sept. 26, 2014 Part II: Russian companies’ failures

Life in Russia with $80 oil

Oil Well file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer – October 17, 2014) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. From late 2010 until the middle of August this year, the price of Brent crude has traded within a relatively narrow range and averaged close to $110 per barrel. Over the

Interfax: “Novak: oil price drop no ‘tragedy'”

Oil Well file photo

(Interfax – October 17, 2014) The current decline in oil prices is no tragedy, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said, adding that the average annual price of oil needs to be considered. “The price reached $120 per barrel at the beginning of the year, and averaged $100 per barrel in the three preceding years. If

Interfax: Russians feel no effect from Western sanctions, think Russian economy may benefit – poll

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Interfax – October 17, 2014) Most Russians claim they have felt no effect from Western sanctions and expect that the sanctions will be good for the national economy, sociologists have told Interfax. A relative majority (41 percent) of 1,630 respondents polled by Levada Center in 134 populated localities in 46 regions in September said the

Back-of-envelope estimate of cost to Russia of Ukraine crisis is $100 billion in 2014

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Timothy Ash of Standard Bank – October 15, 2014) Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, this week estimated that the crisis in Ukraine would likely cost the German economy €40bn this year, and a further €50bn in 2015 – presumably through lost exports, and a broader disruption to the German

Interfax: Russia remains open to free trade zone with EU, Lavrov says

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, October 14, 2014) There is no alternative to improving relations between Russia and the EU and Russia is ready to discuss the creation of a free trade zone with the EU, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. “I believe that no clear-headed person in Europe will argue with the fact that

Russians Lose Faith in Banks as Ruble Falls and Sanctions Bite

VTB Bank Facade file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 16, 2014) Consumer confidence in Russia’s financial system is falling, with half of Russians saying they don’t trust banks and are using such services less, in a troubling signal for a system under pressure from Western sanctions and more sensitive than ever to outflows of depositors,

Experts Divided Over Whether Sanctions Against Russia Are Working

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Voice of America – Andre de Nesnera – October 15, 2014) After several rounds of international sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March and support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, experts are divided over whether they are working. “It depends on what your understanding of the purpose of sanctions

Putin Immune to Economic Decline – So Far

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – October 16, 2014) Most of Russia’s indicators of economic health have plummeted this year. Inflation last month was at its highest level in three years, capital outflow this year is expected to exceed $100 billion, the ruble has lost almost 20 percent of its value since January,

Most Russians Think Western Sanctions Will Boost Nation’s Economy

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 16, 2014) Despite an economic slump and rising inflation, the majority of Russians believe that Western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory ban on food imports will actually help the economy, a poll published Thursday showed. Only 25 percent of respondents expect sanctions to damage the Russian economy,

Russian central bank plays it cool as ruble falls to historic low

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 16, 2014) The ruble dropped to another historic low on October 15, passing the RUB41 per dollar mark in morning trading, but analysts said Russia’s central bank is not panicking because ruble weakness is bolstering manufacturing growth and budget revenues. “The CBR is not panicking either in terms

Russia Can’t Be Blackmailed Over Ukraine, Putin Says

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – October 15, 2014) It’s futile for the U.S. and its allies to “blackmail” Russia over the Ukraine crisis, President Vladimir Putin said in a newspaper interview. Russia’s partners should remember the risks involved in disputes between nuclear powers, Putin said. He accused Barack Obama of adopting a “hostile” approach in naming

De-Modernization and Degradation-A Net Assessment of Russia’s Domestic Situation Since the Start of 2014

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 11, Issue 181 – Pavel K. Baev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – October 14, 2014) Considering Russia’s shocking transformation in the course of just half a year, it is easy to forget that last February the country was united in the joy of hosting the Sochi Winter Olympic games. The

RIA Novosti: New Retaliatory Steps to Western Sanctions Not on Russia’s Agenda: Industry Minister

World Map Showing Continents, Greens, Browns, Ice

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is not going to introduce new measures in response to Western economic sanctions, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov told reporters on Tuesday. “We are not interested in responding [to Western sanctions] with some unreasonable measures. It’s our [Western] colleagues who should be thinking about when

Fears of a Russian credit crunch greatly exaggerated, say analysts

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 14, 2014) On paper, Russian companies have huge foreign debts, and no way of refinancing them because sanctions effectively close Western capital markets to Russian borrowers. But with much of Russian corporate foreign debt in fact hidden equity investments from offshore zones, the figures seem much worse than

Interfax: Russia will protect itself from Western sanctions by long-term measures, says Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov file photo

(Interfax – October 14, 2014) Russia will use long-term measures to protect itself from Western sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. “We will certainly adopt all the measures needed to protect ourselves from unlawful restrictions. You are aware of the resources that are being allocated for these purposes. Beyond any doubt, it will

Interfax: EU will review Russia sanctions in late October – head of EU Delegation

EU Map

MOSCOW. Oct 14 (Interfax) – The European Union plans to review its sanctions against Russia at the end of October, the Head of the EU Delegation to Russia, Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, said when answering a question from Interfax on the sidelines of the European Business Association forum in Moscow on Tuesday. The results of such

Russia signs raft of deals with China

China Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 14, 2014) Russia and China signed a raft of 40 agreements encompassing trade, energy, finance and technology, following a meeting between Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, on October 14 in Moscow. The agreements demonstrate how Russia is looking for other options, after

Putin Deals China Winning Hand as Sanctions Power Rival

China Map

(Bloomberg – boomberg.com – Henry Meyer, Evgenia Pismennaya – October 13, 2014) Defying his former enemies in the U.S. and Europe may force Vladimir Putin to aid the ascent of his biggest rival in the east. Isolated over Ukraine, Russia is relying on China for the investment it needs to avert a recession, three people

Russians account decline in ruble exchange rate to international developments – poll

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – October 12, 2014) Over half of Russians (61 percent) admit that fluctuations in the exchange rate of the ruble have a certain impact on their lives while 13 percent don’t notice any impact, a Public Opinion fund poll indicates. In the opinion of 62 percent of respondents a stronger ruble is better for

Russia Spending $6 Billion Not Enough to Stop Ruble Rout on Oil

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Vladimir Kuznetsov – October 13, 2014) The ruble extended its longest losing streak in more than a year as $6 billion of Russian currency interventions failed to stem the depreciation amid tumbling oil prices. The ruble weakened 0.6 percent versus the dollar-euro basket to 45.3423 by 5:15 p.m. in Moscow, taking

Russia’s Oil Field Actions to Take Edge Off U.S. Sanctions

Oil Well file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Stephen Bierman, Elena Mazneva – October 10, 2014) U.S. and European Union moves to pressure Russia by threatening its oil output overlook one detail: a mass of conventional resources across Siberia, according to Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi. Russia will distribute more oil and gas deposits found in traditional areas during

Bad Roads – a Domestic Russian Problem So Bad Putin Can’t Ignore but Can’t Fix

Moscow Traffic file photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 10, 2014) The state of Russia’s road system, which now ranks 136th out of 144 countries evaluated, is so bad that even Vladimir Putin, who recently has been given to upbeat statements about the country, has had to change his tone. But his comments in Novosibirsk

Russia Can’t Escape Historical Retrospection in Crisis

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Blooomberg – bloomberg.com – Ye Xie and Elena Popina – October 9, 2014) As Russia starts burning through foreign reserves in a bid to defend the ruble, flashbacks to the country’s 1998 devaluation and default are inevitable. While the government is in a much stronger position today to fend off the crisis than it was

Interfax: Capital outflow from Russia might be lower than $100 bilion forecast in 2014 – minister

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Oct 9 (Interfax) – Capital outflows from Russia in 2014 could turn out to be less than the official forecast of $100 billion, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev believes. “We haven’t changed the forecast for this year. It is still $100 billion. Our accumulated outflow, I believe, is currently $78 billion for eight months

Ruble does overtime on downwards slide

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 9, 2014) The ruble dropped on October 8 by a further 24 kopecks to the dollar and 29 kopecks to the euro. In order to support the exchange rate, the central bank was estimated by market participants to have sold more than $1.1bn, at least four times raising

Putin Seeks Solitude Amid Russia’s Perfect Storm

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Outdoor Rally with Microphone in Hand and Heavy Coat

(Stratfor.com – October 9, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his 62nd birthday Tuesday in a peculiar fashion: by himself in the Siberian forests. For the past few days, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, has brushed off journalists’ questions about why the president decided not to celebrate his birthday in Moscow or do other work as he

Will Western Sanctions Stop Russia’s Arctic Oil Expansion?

arctic-energy

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – October 9, 2014) Igor Sechin, the most influential figure in Russia’s energy industry, announced last week that a new oil field discovered in the Arctic was to be christened “Pobeda” – the Russian word for victory. Speaking to reporters from a blustery drilling platform, the Kremlin heavyweight,

Interfax: Russia “moving along crisis trajectory” due to trade barriers – experts

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Interfax – October 7, 2014) The risk of the Russian economy moving from stagnation to a full-scale recession “has become slightly higher” in the short run, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 7 October, quoting the latest study carried out by a group of Russian researchers. The research headlined “Comments on the state and

Putin Aloof as Russia’s Economic Troubles Close In

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Seated at Desk

(Moscow Times editorial – themoscowtimes.com – October 8, 2014) Official documents published Monday show the Kremlin has scrapped the president’s annual budget address. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that the set piece speech would, from now on, be folded into the state-of-the-union address, usually given in December. While Putin floated the idea

Ukraine Wants New IMF Bailout as War Squeezes Economy

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Voice of America – Henry Ridgwell – October 7, 2014) As the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank gets underway in Washington, Ukraine wants to adjust the terms of its $17 billion bailout. Kyiv says the country is now at war and needs to build new armed forces. But some

Business New Europe: Ukraine fails to gain from EU free trade over six months

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 8, 2014) A report by Ukraine’s Alfa Bank argues that Ukraine has failed to gain from unilateral free trade with the European Union over the first six months. Exports have indeed grown but this has little to do with the free trade zone, says the report. In April

Refugees in Russia from Ukraine in Increasingly Desperate Straits, Experts Say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 8, 2014) Many Russian regions now have more refugees from Ukraine than they had expected or can handle, and officials suggest that more are likely to arrive as Ukraine’s economy and weather deteriorate. As a result, the situation of these refugees is “becoming critical,” according to

Moscow Compensating for Economic Weakness by ‘Harsh’ Foreign Policy Moves, Lukyanov Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 8, 2014) The Russian Federation is seeking a revision in the international system but lacks the economic strength to be a new pillar, according to Fedor Lyukanov. And as a result, Moscow will seek to make up for that shortcoming by sudden and dramatic foreign policy

Critic of Russian Economic Policy Ejected From Influential Journal

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 8, 2014) Prominent economist and Kremlin critic Sergei Alexashenko says that political pressure has forced him to surrender his post as editor and contributor to a respected macroeconomic bulletin published by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “Someone doesn’t like what I write, what I do, where

Russia Spends Up to $1.75 Billion in Two Days on Buoy Ruble

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Vladimir Kuznetsov – October 7, 2014) Russia’s central bank spent as much as $1.75 billion to prop up the ruble over the last two trading days, its biggest market intervention since President Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Ukraine in March. Russia’s central bank spent the equivalent of $980 million to shore up

Record fall in oil prices threatens Russian budget

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – October 7, 2014) The price of Brent oil has tumbled to $92.2 a barrel, placing the Russian federal budget in jeopardy. Russian analysts believe that the decrease in oil prices is related to demonstrations in Hong Kong, the strengthening of the dollar, as well

RIA Novosti: Russia Needs to Create Domestic Credit System to Survive Sanctions: Presidential Aide

File Photo of Stack of Credit Cards, adapted from image at fdic.gov

MOSCOW, October 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russia needs to establish a system of domestic credit and improve the efficiency of public administration, so that the economy could successfully develop amid Western sanctions, Russian Presidential Aide Sergei Glazyev said Tuesday. “If we want to survive the war that is being waged against Russia, we need to

Russian companies’ failures to adopt effective sanctions policies worsen sanctions’ impact

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

Subject: Sanctions, Part 2. Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2014 From: Paul Backer <pauljbacker@gmail.com> Part 2. Russian companies’ failures to adopt effective sanctions policies worsen sanctions’ impact. Russian companies failed to address key aspects of sanctions: 1. Large law firm incentives are against giving operationally useful sanctions advice and 2. Nature and enforcement of sanctions differ

Ruble’s Fall and Food Import Bans Send Inflation Ever Higher

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 6, 2014) Year-on-year inflation hit 8 percent in September, driven up by the plummeting value of the ruble and Russia’s bans on many food imports from the United States and European Union, according to data from state statistics service, Rosstat. Rising food prices were the main driver, climbing 11.4

Putin Clans Gridlocked Over Arrest as Sanctions Bite

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Irina Reznik, Evgenia Pismennaya and Ilya Arkhipov – October 5, 2014) Russia’s wheels of power are grinding to a halt. That’s the assessment of five officials close to President Vladimir Putin, who say that a struggle at the heart of his inner circle is slowing decision making as sanctions squeeze the

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Russia to continue on economic course despite restrictions, says Putin

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – October 3, 2014) Speaking at the Russia Calling Investment Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the main direction in the development of Russia’s economy. Analysts believe that Russia’s main challenge will be keeping inflation under control – inflation that was partly brought about by

Sberbank’s Gref: Inefficiency Crippling Russia’s Development Efforts

File Photo of German Gref Shaking Hands with U.S. Official

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 3, 2014) German Gref, head of Russia’s biggest lender Sberbank, on Friday castigated systemic inefficiencies in the Russian government that, he said, waste trillions of rubles and threaten to drag Russian society back into Soviet times. “We have inconceivable social costs in the area of public

The problem with Russia’s investment story is there isn’t one

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris – Moscow, October 2, 2014) Leading Russian investment bank VTB Capital held a slimmed-down version of their annual investment conference on October 1-2. The event, “Russia Calling! 6th Annual VTB Capital Investment Forum” at the World Trade Center Moscow didn’t look cut down from the point of

RIA Novosti: Putin: Russia Has Reserves to Implement Budget Plans Regardless of Global Trends

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

NOVO OGARYOVO (outside Moscow), October 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has enough reserves to implement all the tasks under the state budget regardless of global political and economic trends, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday. “We certainly have reserves to resolve the issues that could arise as a result of developments of the situation in

Poroshenko talks reform with foreign investors

Petro Poroschenko file photo, with additional men in background, adapted from image at state.gov

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 3, 2014) Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko reaffirmed to foreign investors that his goal is for Ukraine to ultimately join the European Union, and for this sweeping reforms are necessary. “This involves a significant number of reforms and solving problems. It’s hardly possible to conduct 62 reforms simultaneously, but

Interfax: Expansion of Russian cooperation in China not end of relations with Europe – Putin

China Map

MOSCOW. Oct 2 (Interfax) – Russia has no intention of ending its relations with its traditional partners, including Europe, and expansion of cooperation with China is a global trend, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “Russia is also thinking about expansion of cooperation with China, and it didn’t begin thinking about it yesterday or due to

Russia Is Running Out of Forest

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 1, 2014) It seems unfeasible that Russia, which holds a fifth of the planet’s forests, could run out of wood. And yet it is happening, at least with commercially usable forests, environmental analysts say. The Russian logging industry will face lack of harvestable timber in 10

Life After Putin: Russia Needs to Be Rebuilt From Scratch

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Moscow Times editorial – themoscowtimes.com – September 30, 2014) This story begins a series of analytical articles and editorials in The Moscow Times about Russia’s long-term strategic prospects. It is strange to recall in 2014 that back at the beginning of his rule, President Vladimir Putin was hailed as a reformer. His main agenda during

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