Odds grow for Ukrainian default on $3 billion Russia debt

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – August 28, 2015) Despite an initial surge of optimism about Ukraine’s financial health after it appeared to clinch a crucial restructuring deal with private creditors, the country is increasingly expected to default on a $3bn Russian-held Eurobond due for redemption in December 2015. The likelihood of the scenario grew after the […]

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Ukraine not out of the woods yet

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – KYIV BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – August 28, 2015) The $3.6bn debt deal announced on August 27 by Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance, where private bondholders agreed to take a 20% writedown on the face value of $18bn in government debt, is very good news. Yet it’s not a done deal and the final […]

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All You Need to Know About Ukraine’s $18 Billion Debt Agreement

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff – August 27, 2015) Ukraine reached a bond-restructuring agreement with about half of its private-sector creditors on Thursday after five months of negotiations. Below are the details of the terms of the agreement and what happens next. Which bonds are included? The deal covers $18 billion of Ukraine’s foreign debt, including 11 government Eurobonds […]

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A Winter Of Discontent For Russia

Snowy Night on Red Square with Old St. Basil's Lit Up

(Oilprice.com – Colin Chilcoat – August 25, 2015) Winters are the stuff of legend in Russia and – despite a fair bit of warming – winter 2015/16 is shaping up to be one of the harshest, and most formative, in recent memory. After a brief period of respite – and muted acceptance of the “new normal” – to start the […]

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Russia Faces Reality With Prediction of Deeper Economic Slump

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas – August 25, 2015) Russia’s government is starting to face reality. While insisting the worst of its recession was over, it cut its economic forecasts for this year and next amid the renewed plunge in energy prices and persistent sanctions over Ukraine. Economists said the revisions fell short of their estimates predicting […]

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Russian poll on nationalism and xenophobia produces worrying results

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Henry Kirby in London – August 25, 2015) More Russians than ever (41%) believe that illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries should be granted legal status in Russia and given the chance to assimilate, although 43% still want them to be expelled from the country. According to a survey published by independent polling company Levada […]

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‘Black Monday’ inflicts further damage on Russian markets

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

Amid turmoil on global financial markets, the Russian ruble fell to a historic low against the U.S. dollar on Aug. 24, while the key stock market index, the RTS, dropped 6 percent. Russian analysts say that there is little room for optimism while oil prices remain low. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan – August 25, 2015) […]

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Russia Won’t Suffer the Soviet Union’s Fate

dont-talk-soviet-poster

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 25, 2015) If you believe low oil prices killed the Soviet Union, it seems reasonable to wonder whether the current commodities bust will topple President Vladimir Putin or even break up Russia. Cheap oil, however, didn’t destroy the Soviet empire: Communism did. Putin’s Russia is more oil-dependent than its predecessor, but it […]

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Russian economy minister says oil price expected at 52 dollars

Oil Wells File Photo

(RIA Novosti – August 24, 2015) Russian Economic Development Minister has said the price of oil will find a new balance in a few months at the level of just over 50 dollars a barrel, RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) reported on 24 August. He said the average price of Urals oil will amount […]

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Sanctions not responsible for Russia’s falling GDP, say experts

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

According to a new report by Central Bank analysts, sanctions against Russia have not played a significant role in the decline of Russia’s economy, with experts agreeing that low oil prices are principally to blame. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – August 24, 2015) The introduction of Western sanctions against Russia is responsible for only […]

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Turning Opinions of Disability Upside Down

File Photo of Back of Wheelchari with Line of Persons in Business Dress in Background

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jordan Reed – August 25, 2015) This weekend the charitable organization Downside Up, which helps children with Down syndrome and their families, raised money and awareness for the cause with a cycling event through Moscow and Kaluga region. The 20th event of its kind saw 100 participants cycle 100km in Kaluga region on Saturday and […]

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Ukraine’s largest lender PrivatBank investigated for diverting $1.8bn of IMF funds

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Graham Stack in Kyiv – August 24, 2015) PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest lender partly owned by controversial oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, is under criminal investigation by the authorities for fraudulently diverting around what was then about $1.8bn, the bank has confirmed. “We are aware of the existence of criminal proceedings. PrivatBank fully cooperates with the investigators […]

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Economic Crisis Empties Moscow Central Streets

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – August 25, 2015) Even though Moscow retail property owners are increasingly willing to offer favorable lease terms to clients, Moscow’s central streets continue to lose their tenants who are forced to close their outlets due to the economic crisis. In the first half of the year, the vacancy rate in prime locations […]

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How Next Round of Russia’s Disintegration May Begin

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 24, 2015) In his poem, “The Fall of Rome,” W.H. Auden wrote that it could be signaled not by some dramatic event but rather by “a bored official” scribbling a note and leaving his office to go home, a reminder that enormous tectonic shifts often begin with small things that most […]

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Washington ups the ante with sanctions on Gazprom

Gas Facility file photo

RBTH presents its weekly analytical program TROIKA REPORT, featuring a look at three of the most high-profile recent developments in international affairs. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – TROIKA REPORT: Sergey Strokan, Vladimir Mikheev – August 20, 2015) 1. Engaging the West U.S. sanctions on Gazprom: Washington ups the ante The recent move by the U.S. administration to restrict […]

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Russian ruble tumbles as oil prices tank

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – August 20, 2015) Russia’s ruble tumbled to a six-month low of RUB67 to the dollar and RUB75 to the euro on Thursday, as oil prices dropped yet again to $47 a barrel. The fall in the ruble adds to the turmoil in emerging markets over the past […]

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Interfax: Embargoed food destruction backed by 42% of Russians, 38% against

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. Aug 21 (Interfax) – Most Russians (83%) are aware of the destruction of embargoed food smuggled into Russia from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway, the Public Opinion Foundation has said. Russians have mixed feelings about the decision made by the authorities: 42% say the embargoed food needs to be destroyed, and 38% claim the […]

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Russia Rewrites Growth Blueprint as Recession Dooms Consumer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 19, 2015) [Chart here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-19/russia-rewrites-blueprint-for-growth-as-recession-dooms-consumer] Russia’s consumer economy, powered for more than a decade by a $2.1 trillion energy windfall, is in agony. The situation is getting worse, according to data released Wednesday by the statistics office in Moscow. Wages adjusted for inflation plummeted 9.2 percent last month from a year earlier […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: Russia used to have a powerful weapon in its energy sector. Not anymore.

Gas Flame file photo

The Washington Post assesses shifts in Russia’s position within the energy sector, and the impact upon Russian coercive pressure on the West. For years, Russia’s ability to choke off energy shipments any time tensions spiked with the West was a potent threat, one that could force much of Europe to shiver during the wintertime. But with energy prices swooning, the […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Chris Weafer: No End in Sight to the Ruble’s Downward Slide

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Writing in The Moscow Times, Chris Weafer considers trends in the Russian economy, with a focus on the ruble. … More than anything else the ruble is very much like the single bolt which holds a hang-glider together. If it breaks then the glider will fall to earth and the pilot very likely killed. * * * The reason why the ruble has that critical role is because, […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: Russians Seek to Soften Impact of Ruble Depreciation. Businesses look for new ways to hedge against further currency volatility.

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

The Wall Street Journal covers Russian vulnerability to currency volatility. Under Russian President Vladimir Putin, currency volatility once seemed consigned to the past. Before Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, the ruble had kept an average range of between 25 and 35 to the dollar for several years. Now the exchange rate hovers around 66 to the dollar. * * […]

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Simon Saradzhyan: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7)

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7) Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2015 23:14:07 +0000 From: Simon Saradzhyan <Simon_Saradzhyan@hks.harvard.edu> Simon Saradzhyan’s Response to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy in Foreign Affairs. [Simon Saradzhyan is assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism and a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer […]

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Putin Aide Who Called Shock Rate Cut Sees Pause as Oil Nears $40

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas, Evgenia Pismennaya – August 18, 2015) Andrey Belousov went largely unheeded the last time he forecast a shift in monetary policy. Now President Vladimir Putin’s top economic aide is lending weight to a growing consensus that Russia’s easing cycle is wearing out. The central bank may pause its interest-rate cuts after five decreases this […]

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Russian Press Digest (19 August 2015)

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Wednesday, the Russian press focuses on the departure of Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russian Railways and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. According to business daily Kommersant, Yakunin called his decision to leave ‘a personal one’ during a conversation with Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Kaliningrad’s election commission is processing Yakunin’s candidacy to become the […]

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Real incomes in Russia decline 2.0% in July, wages down 9.2% – Rosstat

Cash, Calculator, Pen

MOSCOW. Aug 19 (Interfax) – Real disposable incomes in Russia fell 2.0% in July compared with the same month last year, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said. They fell 3.5% in June, 6.4% in May, 4% in April, 1.8% in March, 1.6% in February and 0.8% in January. Incomes fell 2.9% in real terms in January-July 2015. They declined […]

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Putin May Be Tiring of His Cronies

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – August 18, 2015) Vladimir Yakunin seemed eternal: Nothing he could do appeared to undermine his standing in the system President Vladimir Putin has built to run Russia. Yet now he is leaving the top job at the national railroad monopoly, after 10 years of mismanaging it. Putin may be realizing that tough economic […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin says no need to worry about Russian economy

Putin at Desk

(RIA Novosti – August 18, 2015) Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Russians not to worry about the country’s economy, because the government is monitoring the situation around the clock, RIA Novosti reported on 18 August. “Everyone is on the job; the government is managing the economy, on a daily and hourly basis. We don’t let anything out of […]

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Russia continues to increase investments in U.S. Treasuries

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

(Interfax – August 18, 2015) Russia increased its investments in U.S. Treasury bonds in June by $1.4 billion, just as it did in May, according to data from the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve System, published on Aug. 18. At the end of June, the volume of Russian-owned U.S. Treasury bonds stood at $72 billion. Russia is currently 19th […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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Russia’s surprisingly stingy sovereign wealth fund

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

As disputes over budget spending intensify, the stability of NWF suggests fiscal conservatives in government can still fight their corner. (Business New Europe – bne.eu – Alex Nice, analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit – August 18, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/insiders-russias-surprisingly-stingy-sovereign-wealth-fund] Since the EU and US imposed sanctions on Russia’s banking, defence and energy sectors in mid-2014, there has been speculation […]

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U.S.-Russian Paper Startup Sees Massive Success Despite Political Tensions

United States Map, adapted from image at epa.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Matthew Bodner – August 18, 2015) One of the largest office supply retailers in the United States has offered a group of young Russian and American entrepreneurs an exclusive distribution deal for a new sticky note developed by the team after raising almost $250,000 on crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Founded in January by two Russian cousins […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Edward Lucas: “Russian Roulette. The regime has replaced institutions with one-man rule and treats criticism as treason. But it could get even worse.”

Putin Descending a Staircase

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Edward Lucas reviews two books, Putinism by Walter Laqueur and Putin’s Russia edited by Leon Aron. Lucas assesses Putinism, unfolding under the extensive reign of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a negative light: Making sense of Putinism is rather like trying to analyze a Russian salad. Unappetizing cubes of meat and vegetables lurk in […]

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NEWSWATCH Interfax-Ukraine: Ukrainian shadow economy reaches 47% of GDP in Q1, 2015 – Economy Ministry.

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

Interfax-Ukraine covers a report indicating a rise in Ukraine’s “shadow economy,” corresponding an overall drop in Ukrainian economic output. … the shadow economy in Ukraine in the first quarter … 2015 increased … 5 percentage points compared to the corresponding period in 2014, to 47% of official GDP, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry has reported …. * * * […]

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Russians Named Europe’s Least Productive Workers

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 11, 2015) The productivity of the Russian workforce is the lowest among European countries, according to a report issued Monday by the France-based international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. In Russia, labor productivity – measured by the gross domestic product valued in U.S. dollars divided by the total number of hours […]

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Eight Facts to Celebrate 100 Starbucks in Russia

Starbucks Counter with U.S. Ambassador and Crew

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ilaria Parogni – August 12, 2015) American coffeehouse chain Starbucks Coffee celebrated the opening of his 100th Russian branch in Tuesday. The new venue is located inside the shopping center Galereya in St. Petersburg, the company announced on social media. Starbucks is currently holding celebrations at the new location and at the company’s flagship store […]

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Russian Press Digest 12 August 2015

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Wednesday, the Russian press reports on import substitution, copyright news and the emergence of a new, Cossack currency in St Petersburg. This morning, business daily Kommersant leads with an article on import substitution-a commission devoted to the issue has just been set up, with Dmitry Medvedev its head. The commission’s first meeting took […]

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Russians Require Minimum Monthly Income of $350, Poll Shows

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – August 13, 2015) The minimum monthly income a household needs to make ends meet, according to the average Russian, is 22,755 rubles ($350) per person – nearly 2.5 times more than the official minimum cost of living in Russia, a survey by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) revealed. Respondents’ answers varied according to […]

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