Category Archives: Economy, Business, Investment, Trade

$110 Billion Expected to Flee Russia This Year as Sanctions Bite

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 29, 2015) Capital flight from Russia is forecast to hit $110 billion this year, the Economic Development Ministry said Thursday, as Western sanctions limit foreign investment and force Russian companies to pay off billions of dollars in foreign debt. The ministry’s base forecast anticipates that U.S. and EU sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine […]

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Moscow Times: Putin’s Approval Rating Remains at 86% Unfazed by Economic Crisis, Ukraine Conflict

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – May 29, 2015) President Vladimir Putin continues to enjoy the approval of a staggering 86 percent of the Russian public, a poll revealed Thursday, indicating levels of support that many Western leaders could only dream of. Putin’s approval rating, announced by independent Moscow-based pollster the Levada Center, sat at the same level […]

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Will Ukraine’s bondholders force a default on purpose?

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 26, 2015) Will Ukraine’s private bondholders force the country to default on its debt on purpose by refusing to negotiate on the restructuring, or “haircut”, that Kyiv is demanding on $10bn worth of debt? It’s not such a crazy question, because it has happened before. In 2009, Morgan […]

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Russia and Ukraine Trade Turnover Falls by Two-Thirds

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2015) Russian trade turnover with Ukraine fell by around 60 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to a recent study by researchers at the World Trade Center Moscow, news agency RBC reported Wednesday. Russian exports to Ukraine fell 63.5 percent, from $8.1 […]

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Ukraine Creditors Said to Offer Coupon Cuts, Debt Extensions

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Natasha Doff – May 28, 2015) Ukraine’s creditors including Franklin Templeton put forward a restructuring proposal that includes maturity extensions of up to 10 years and reductions in interest payments of about $500 million. The offer, submitted on May 9 by a group owning about $8.9 billion of Ukraine’s debt, involves amortizing the bonds over a […]

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Poll shows 80 per cent of Russian businessmen see economic crisis in the country

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Moscow, May 28, 2015) Data from a telephone poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) shows that an overwhelming majority of Russian businessmen (80 per cent) believe Russia to be in an economic crisis now, while 16 per cent are sure that there is no crisis. Two-thirds of those polled believe that the crisis harms the sector […]

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Russia on track for poor harvest

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow, May 28, 2015) Russia is on course for a poor harvest after rains failed in key agricultural regions in the south. Following a record harvest in 2014, this year’s grain production could fall to levels last seen during the disastrous drought of 2010 – bad news for an economy already […]

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Worst Not Over for Russia as Economy Shrinks 4.3% in April

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 28, 2015) Russia’s economic recession deepened in April as the decline in gross domestic product accelerated to 4.3 percent year-on-year, quashing hopes that the worst of the crisis had passed, state development bank VEB said in a report released Wednesday. “The accelerating fall in GDP in April indicates that the crisis still hasn’t passed […]

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Russia Could Use Prison Labor For 2018 World Cup

putin-fifa-meeting

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, May 25, 2015) A prominent member of parliament for the ruling United Russia party has drafted a bill to allow enterprises to employ thousands of convicts as a cheap workforce to build infrastructure for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The legal amendments reported on May 25 in leading business daily Kommersant create a mechanism […]

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Putin Faces New Kind of Parade of Sovereignties in Degraded Russian Regions

Russia Regions Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 27, 2015) Russian governors, “even the most loyal” to the Kremlin, as a result of the intensification of the economic crisis, find themselves between a rock and a hard place and are beginning to complain about Moscow’s failure to articulate an anti-crisis strategy which takes the interests of their regions into […]

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NEWSLINK Washington Times: Russia recovery talk premature as sanctions threaten to cripple economy

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Despite a small rebound in world oil prices, “Russia is not out of the woods yet because the sanctions are going to continue to have an impact,” said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a former State Department official who served in Moscow and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.   http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/25/russia-recovery-talk-premature-as-sanctions-threat/

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IMF joins ‘worst is over’ crowd by predicting weaker recession for Russia in 2015

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(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – May 22, 2015) In the latest prognosis of Russia’s economic prospects by the big-league financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has presented a revised and more optimistic scenario than some of its peers. GDP will fall by 3.4% in 2015 and return to growth in 2016, with a 0.2% increase […]

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NEWSLINK Brookings Institution: The ruble currency storm is over, but is the Russian economy ready for the next one?

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Recent data show the Russian economy contracted 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2015. In this article, Sergey Aleksashenko delves into the events that led to the downturn, and what we can expect for the rest of 2015.

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The Riga summit of disappointment

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – May 21, 2015) Several plucky countries of Emerging Europe have put their necks on the block by defying Russian bullying to join its Customs Union, turning instead to the EU and its promise of a better life. But most of these countries are likely to be disappointed, or could […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal: The Putin Recession; Russia’s economy keeps shrinking, but the West won’t take advantage

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The Wall Street Journal editors address Russia’s economic crisis and the West’s apparent unwillingness to step up economic pressure. The Russian recession is expected to continue unfolding. An oddity of recent weeks has been the attempt to argue that Russia’s economy isn’t as awful as it looks. Then along comes Friday’s report that GDP fell 1.9% year-on-year in the first […]

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Russian Foreign Direct Investment Dropped 40% in 2014

File Photo of Outdoor Electronic Sign with Russian Exchange Data

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 19, 2015) Overseas investment by Russian companies fell to $56 billion last year, a 40 percent decline from 2013, even as China led a wider boom in foreign direct investment from emerging economies, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released Monday. The figure means that Russia […]

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What next for Russia’s economy and the ruble?

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer in Moscow, Senior Partner at Macro Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting – May 19, 2015) If you left Russia for the last New Year holiday and did not return until the recent May holidays, and did not follow the news from or about Russia in the meantime, you would certainly be […]

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Russia’s Richest Billionaire: Impact of Sanctions Is Waning

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ryan Chilcote, Yuliya Fedorinova – May 18, 2015) Russia’s richest man said international investors are coming back to the country and the impact of sanctions has peaked. “Now it’s getting clear that the situation is more politically stable or predictable,” Vladimir Potanin, who heads Russia’s biggest miner, OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, said in an interview with […]

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Looking after yourself in Siberia

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

The ‘rationalisation’ of medical and social services in rural Russia has compelled people to acquire new skills in order to survive, but life for the weakest is very hard – and very expensive. (opendemocracy.net – Georgy Borodyansky, an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta – May 12, 2015) Circumstance has forced the inhabitants of Kurganka, a village in Russia’s Omsk Region, to […]

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NEWSLINK Bostinno: What Now for MIT and Moscow’s ‘Innovation City’? [Skolkovo]

Skolkovo File Photo

In 2011, MIT and Russian institutions including the Skolkovo Foundation launched a multi-year collaboration to facilitate the conception of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology—dubbed Skoltech— a private graduate research university in a suburb of Moscow that was designed to stimulate the Russian entrepreneurial ecosystem and address a number of pressing global issues.   http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/16/mits-skolkovo-tech-incubator-skoltech-struggles-in-russia/  

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russia plans detailed discussion on raising retirement age: document

retirees-500

The Russian government has for the first time said officially it will hold discussions on raising the retirement age, a step whose supporters say is vital because the country’s workforce is shrinking. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-russia-crisis-pensions-idUSKBN0NZ27R20150514

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Russia-Ukraine conflict overshadows EBRD meeting

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Tbilisi – May 15, 2015) The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has overshadowed the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) annual general meeting in Tbilisi this week, with Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak accusing the bank of a “political motivated” decision to suspend lending to Russia. The development bank’s […]

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EBRD sees Russia’s GDP contracting by 4.5% in 2015

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – May 14, 2015) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) expects deep recession in Russia to have a larger-than-expected negative spill-over effect on countries with strong ties with its economy, the bank says in its latest Regional Economic Prospects report published on May 14. Russia’s GDP is seen contracting by 4.5% in 2015, […]

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As Inflation Soars, One in Five Russians Can Only Afford Bare Necessities

File Photo of Older Russian Woman Shopping in Grocery Store

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – May 15, 2015) Many Russians flocked to stores late last year as the ruble plummeted against the euro and dollar, eager to get the most out of their savings before the prices of imported goods rose. Nearly 20 percent of Russians can now afford nothing more than the absolute necessities as double-digit […]

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Currency Crisis Leaves Russian Scientists With No Funds for Foreign Journal Subscriptions

Artist's Conception of Nanotechnology Components

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 13, 2015) After scientists across Russia lost access to thousands of academic journals on Tuesday due to the ruble’s sharp devaluation, Education Minister Dmitry Livanov vowed to restore access to academic publishing giant Springer, Russian media reported. Universities and research institutions across the country lost access to Springer due to a […]

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In Putin’s Russia, Universal Health Care Is for All Who Pay

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer – May 13, 2015) Expectant mothers in Moscow must wait as long as six weeks for ultra-sound scans, up from three days last year. Hospital outpatients pay for blood tests and X-rays that were free 12 months ago. And Marif Alekberov, a 27-year-old fireman with leukemia, is being told to find […]

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Debt restructuring row flares between Kyiv and creditors as IMF deadline looms

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – May 14, 2015) Ukraine’s finance ministry and holders of its sovereign Eurobonds have taken their dispute over debt restructuring public, as a mid-June deadline set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requiring final agreement on terms draws close. The ministry criticised the level of secrecy over the identities of the mainly […]

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Moscow Times: Despite Crisis, Most Russian Companies Aren’t Cutting Jobs

Russian Migrant Workers file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 13, 2015) Despite the economic crisis, two-thirds of Russian companies aren’t cutting jobs and prefer to survive the crisis by shortening work hours or cutting workers’ salaries, a study by global management consultancy Hay Group found. “A lot of companies have refused to take radical measures, as in some sectors the situation has stabilized,” […]

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Moscow Times: Russia Declared Best of BRICS in Developing Human Capital

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – May 14, 2015) Russia on Wednesday claimed 26th place in a global ranking of countries’ ability to foster human capital thanks to its highly educated populace, putting it first among the BRICS group of developing nations. Among BRICS members Russia led by a mile, according to the survey of 124 economies published […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Signs Putin Doesn’t Think He’s Lost the Sanctions Game; any reactions?

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Secretary of State John Kerry‘s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday has revived one of Washington’s top guessing games: Is Mr. Putin impressed by Western sanctions? A well-informed Russian friend of mine told me Monday that Mr. Putin will not rethink his Ukraine strategy until he is convinced that Europe and the U.S. are able to make their […]

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Moscow Government Approves Plans for Russian Disneyland

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 12, 2015) Moscow’s urban planning commission has approved plans for a children’s amusement park along the lines of Disneyland to be built in the Nagatinskaya Poima park in southeastern Moscow, City Hall said in a statement. The amusement park will include an indoor theme park operated by Hollywood animation studio DreamWorks, another park operated […]

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Russia’s road to deoffshorisation and capital amnesty still ‘under construction’

Hand Pulling Cash from Envelope

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Artem Toropov, senior associate in the tax practice at law firm Goltsblat BLP – May 7, 2015) More than a year has passed since the Russian “deoffshorisation” reform was switched into “active” mode by the Russian president. 2014 was dominated with work on the new legislation – but the result, to many, was quite […]

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Is Gazprom a “buy”?

Gas Facility file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – MOSCOW BLOG: Ben Aris in Moscow – May 7, 2015) [Chart here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/moscow-blog-gazprom-buy] With the RTS Index up 30% year-to-date, foreign investors are drifting back into Russian shares simply because they are so cheap. But is the bluest of Russian blue chips and long-time market proxy Gazprom a buy again? Russian investment bank Renaissance […]

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Dividend season opens and Russian companies are paying

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – May 6, 2015) It’s reporting season and some Russian companies are paying handsome dividends to their shareholders. Almost twice as much as emerging-market peers, in fact, relative to their stock prices, after the sudden ruble rout of last year bolstered exporters’ cash piles. Russian stocks have been performing well off the […]

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Russian Bank Lending Drops 60 Percent as Crisis Paralyses System

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 6, 2015) The number of loans issued in Russia in the first quarter of this year fell by 58 percent compared to the same period in 2014, as the devaluation of the ruble, Western sanctions and sky-high interest rates hit the banking system, a report showed Tuesday. The tide is now slowly beginning to turn […]

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Foreign currency protests in Russia – a chance for the opposition?

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

While political demonstrations are on the slide, economic protests are on the rise in Russia. Can the two be united? (opendemocracy.net – Dmitry Florin – April 30, 2015) Dmitry Florin is an independent journalist based in Moscow, Russia. The Russian opposition is a broad church. Just as radical leftists hold their own marches, so do the liberals and the nationalists. […]

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Sanoma sells Vedomosti to comply with Russian media law

satellite-dish-big-disa-mil

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – April 30, 2015) Finnish publishing company Sanoma has sold its 33.3% share in the Russian business daily Vedomosti to publishing executive Demyan Kudryavtsev, in the latest shake-up to Russia’s media landscape caused by new legislation limiting foreign ownership. The stake in Delovoi Standard, the publisher of the daily, was sold to […]

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Russian Economy May Be Stumbling Back To Its Feet

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Oilprice.com – Andy Tully – May 3, 2015) The Bank of Russia has cut interest rates for the third time so far this year, reinforcing forecasts by some government ministers that the country’s economic woes are beginning to stabilize. The central bank cut its key rate on April 30 to 12.5 percent, a reduction of 1.5 points, and said it would […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Russia cuts key interest rate, hopes worst of crisis over

File Photo of Elvira Nabiullina at OECD Event, at Podium and On Large Video Screen

Russia’s central bank cut its main lending rate by 1-1/2 percentage points on Thursday, its third rate cut this year, a sign that it believes the worst of an economic crisis is over. The cut to 12.5 percent follows the rouble’s recovery in recent weeks after a dramatic decline last year as global oil prices fell and Western economic sanctions […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Beloved Borscht Reveals Reality of Inflation. Retired Siberian journalist tracks ingredients to document the country’s soaring food prices

Red Cabbage and Green Cabbages, adapted from image at pnnl.org

Russia had its most severe year-over-year monthly inflation in 13 years in March, the result of a plunge in crude oil prices, a devalued ruble and the Kremlin’s ban on an array of Western food imports imposed in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. Overall, inflation climbed to 16.9% compared with a year earlier, according to the state statistics service, pinching […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Russian Assets Regain Appeal for Investors. The country’s ruble, sovereign bonds, and stocks attract those seeking higher yields

St. Basil's Domes

Investors have taken Russia out of the penalty box. The ruble has gained 17.5% in 2015 against the U.S. dollar, after losing nearly half of its value in 2014, according to financial-data provider CQG. It has soared 46% from an intraday record low set in December. Russia’s stock index denominated in the ruble has soared 20% this year through Monday, […]

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NEWSLINK Forbes: New Data Shows Russia’s Demography Is Rapidly Deteriorating

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Sometimes labeled “the dying bear” or “the dying nation,” Russia has caught a lot of flack for its demographic problems. No demography isn’t the most popular topic in the world, it’s unfortunately quite a niche topic, but to the extent that anyone hears anything about Russia demography in the popular press they hear a tale of unmitigated calamity and woe.

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Why Foreign Investment in Russia’s Regions is Falling

Russia Regions Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova – April 28, 2015) Ninety-five percent of Russian regions are unattractive to foreign investors, a study released last week in Moscow found, in a sign that investment is likely to remain sluggish after Russia emerges from a deep recession. Only a few regions are managing to create favorable investment conditions for foreigners, according […]

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