Archive for Economy, Business, Investment, Trade

Interfax: Kudrin suggests five steps towards effective Russian economy amid sanctions

Alexei Kudrin file photo

(Interfax – November 21, 2014) Russia may see a growth and develop every sphere of public life even under the sanctions, said Committee of Civil Initiatives Chairman Alexei Kudrin. “There is always a wish to have a simple recipe: five steps that can make a great change. I have to admit there is no such

The Tale of Two Crises (re The Economist)

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

Subject: The tale of two crises (re The Economist) Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2014 From: Ben Aris <baris@bne.eu> I would like to comment on two sets of pieces you ran from the Economist on eastern European woes on JRL#241. I know I keep taking pops at the Economist and I try not to as I

VIDEO: Is Putin intentionally provoking the West?

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

PBS News Hour interviews Russia scholar Kimberly Marten about Russia’s unfolding relations with the West. [click here for transcript] Said Marten: I think part of what’s going on is that Putin is trying to take attention off of the problems that the Russian economy is facing.  The sanctions are working much better than … predicted … they’re having real impact

McDonald’s Moscow Restaurant Reopens After 3-Month Shutdown

File Photo of Russian McDbnald's Crew with U.S. Diplomat

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leslie Patton, Ilya Khrennikov – November 19, 2014) McDonald’s Corp.’s (MCD) largest restaurant in Russia reopened after local officials shuttered the location for three months, an optimistic sign for a company trying to return to business as usual in the country. The outlet, situated in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, resumed business today,

Sanctions Affect Half Of Russia’s Banking Sector, Report Says

Cash, Calculator, Pen

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 19, 2014) Russian banks are the most vulnerable among the world’s large emerging market economies due to Western sanctions and near zero levels of economic growth, a Standard & Poor’s report released Wednesday said. Sanctions directly affect more than 50 percent of Russia’s banking sector, which is dominated by

Interfax: Russian central banker says economy can withstand lower oil price, sanctions

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Interfax – November 18, 2014) The head of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, has said that the economy would retain stability if things go less than well, i.e. if oil prices averages 80 dollars per barrel and sanctions continue until the end of 2017. Speaking in the State Duma on 18 November, she added

Russia moves to free-sinking currency

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – November 19, 2014) After controlling the ruble-dollar exchange rate for more than two decades to ease the pain of the transition to a free market, on October 9 the Russia’s central bank finally let the ruble go. The Russian currency is now a fully

Ten Kremlin Moves That Hurt Russia’s Economy

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – November 19, 2014) As the Russian economy ambles toward recession, the government grapples with how to explain the downturn – no easy feat after 15 years of slowly mounting prosperity and President Vladimir Putin’s campaign promises of lavish social spending. So far, the authorities have been inclined

Putin Said to Stun Advisers by Backing Corruption Crackdown

Cropped File Photo of Two Men in Business Suits Shaking Hands and Passing Cash

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Evgenia Pismennaya, Irina Reznik- November 19, 2014) Vladimir Putin sat motionless as the minister, seizing on the Russian leader’s first major meeting with his economic team in months, itemized the challenges. A recession is imminent, inflation is getting out of hand and the ruble and oil are in freefall, Economy Minister

2015 looks likely to be Russian economy’s “Annus Horribilis”

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer – November 18, 2014) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. In a memorable speech delivered in late 1992, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II described the year just ending as an “Annus Horribilis” as she referred to a year filled with misery and

Early shift to free-floating policy gives shelter to battered Russian ruble

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexei Lossan, RBTH – November 17, 2014) Since the beginning of 2014 the value of the ruble has fallen by about 50 percent against the dollar and the euro, a slide most analysts attribute to low oil prices. In the end, Russia’s Central Bank decided to bring forward

Profile: Elvira Nabiullina, Woman at Center of Russia’s Ruble Collapse

Elvira Nabiullina file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – November 15, 2014) Reaching the climax of a personal attack on Russia’s Central Bank chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina in a debate in the State Duma early last week, Communist deputy Vyacheslav Tetyokin did not hold back. Nabiullina, he said, was “the most expensive woman in the history of

Interfax: Putin says discussing anti-Russian sanctions at G20 summit useless

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

MOSCOW. Nov 14 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin says it would be useless to initiate a discussion of anti-Russian sanctions at the G20 summit in Australia and denies cooling in relations with German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. “If the subject [of sanctions] is raised, I will speak about it, of course, but I am

Most of Russians believe support for Ukraine separatists to cause economic crisis, still support government actions

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Business New Europe/IntelliNews – bne.eu – November 12, 2014) More than half of Russians now believe that the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine will lower their standard of living and cause an economic crisis in Russia, but even so they continue to back their government’s actions, according to survey

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Low oil prices hurt Russia and the West

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Bryan MacDonald, special to RBTH – November 12, 2014) Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist who focusses on Russia and international geopolitics. Are Western and Gulf oil interests ganging up to break Russia? Is the country hopelessly addicted to black gold? Bryan McDonald find the truth is a

Interfax: Russian GDP growth slows to 0.7% in Q3 from 0.8% in Q2 – Rosstat

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW. Nov 13 (Interfax) – Russian GDP increased by 0.7% year-on-year in Q3 2014, the Federal Statistics Service’s (Rosstat) preliminary estimate published on Thursday said. Rosstat’s data coincided with the calculations of the Economic Development Ministry, which estimated GDP growth in Q3 at 0.7%. Rosstat has not published estimates for GDP growth in January-September. However,

Interfax: Moscow says Silk Road route may go via Russia

China Map

BEIJING. Nov 10 (Interfax) – Some sections of the Silk Road route pass through Russia, according to Russian Direct Investment Fund head Kirill Dmitriyev. “The route is being chosen, and Russia should hold a very active position in this respect. The Russian president said earlier today that we had plenty of infrastructural capacity for building

Oil falls below $80 but floating ruble seen mitigating pain for Russia

Oil Well file photo

(Business New Europe – November 7, 2014) Oil prices fell below $80 for the first time in four years on November 5 after Saudi Arabia and other Opec members refused to cut production. But economists say despite the large movements in the oil price, the de facto freely floating ruble will mitigate much of the

Russia Ranked Least Prosperous Country in Europe

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 5, 2014) Russia fell eight places from last year in the 2014 edition of the Legatum Institute Prosperity Index – a yearly rating of countries’ performance across several categories of well-being, including economic indicators such as gross domestic product, but also levels of safety, freedom, health and happiness. This

Ruble Rout Intensifies as Russia’s Central Bank Limits Interventions

Russian Central Bank file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos – November 5, 2014) The Russian ruble plunged when trading opened Wednesday as the Central Bank announced it would cap the amount of foreign reserves it spends to defend the currency. The ruble fell to historic lows, diving to 44.98 against the dollar and passing the 56 euro

Interfax: Russian church leader calls on people to join forces amid sanctions

Patriarch Kirill file photo

(Interfax – November 4, 2014) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has criticized the West over attempts to play havoc with the minds of the Russian people through the sanctions it had imposed against Russia, Gazprom-owned Russian TV channel NTV reported on 4 November. “One should make the economic situation worse to play havoc

RIA Novosti: European Commission Names Main Risks for Russian Economy

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

BRUSSELS, November 4 (RIA Novosti) – The geopolitical tensions over the situation around Ukraine, declining oil prices combined with Russia’s high dependence on energy exports, a weakening ruble and high inflation are among the main risks for the Russian economy, said the European Commission’s (EC) forecast, published Tuesday. “Economic growth in Russia had been on

Russians Burdened by Less Debt Compared With U.S.

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 30,, 2014) Despite concerns of a consumer lending bubble in Russia, relatively few Russians have any debt at all compared with residents of the U.S. and Europe, according to a survey released Wednesday. Russia’s consumer lending market grew at the blistering rate of 40 percent in

In Ukraine hope springs eternal

Ukraine Map and Flag

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – CONFERENCE CALL: Ben Aris in Kyiv – October 31, 2014) Two days after a crucial parliamentary election that put the seal on Ukraine’s latest political transformation, SP Advisors, a leading local investment firm, held its first investment conference and invited international investors to Kyiv to debate the Eastern European

Russia Climbs 30 Places in World Bank Business Ranking

World Bank Building

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sam Skove – October 30, 2014) Despite dire forecasts for its sanctions-struck economy, Russia has leaped up an unprecedented 30 positions in the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” survey for 2015, the bank said Wednesday. Russia rose to 62nd place out of 189 ranked countries, ahead of China at 90,

Ukrainian GDP Plunges 5.1% Amid Deadly Conflict in Nation’s East

Maidan Square file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska – October 30, 2014) Ukraine’s economy shrank 5.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the most in almost five years, as industrial production and the hryvnia slumped amid the bloody conflict in the country’s east. The drop is less than the 9 percent median estimate of

Safe-Deposit Box Craze Lays Bare Ukraine Woes After Vote

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Daryna Krasnolutska – October 29, 2014) Wary of banks and alarmed by armed conflict around her parents’ town, Daria Demianenko joined Ukraine’s rush to an old-fashioned way of squirreling away cash. More commonly known as a home for fancy jewels and ill-gotten gains, safe-deposit boxes are swallowing a growing chunk of

Blowing $24 Billion on Ruble Spurs Free-Float Bet

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Vladimir Kuznetsov – October 29, 2014) The ruble’s persistent weakening in the face of $24 billion of interventions is stoking speculation the Bank of Russia will accelerate its switch to a free float. The currency fell to a record for a sixth day today, losing 0.6 percent to 42.7410 per dollar

Interfax: Russian pollster says citizens increasingly concerned about rising dollar

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Interfax – Moscow, October 27, 2014) Fourty-five per cent of Russian residents are now concerned about an increase in the dollar rate – this indicator has increased significantly compared with last year, when only 26 per cent of respondents worried about this, Levada Centre [independent research organization] sociologists have told Interfax. At the same time,

Finance Ministry Eyes 10% Cuts to Russia’s State Spending as Economic Outlook Worsens

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 28, 2014) With sanctions, oil price falls and the ruble devaluation making Russia’s official growth forecasts look increasingly overconfident, the Finance Ministry will draw up contingency measures to shave 10 percent off state spending in 2016 and 2017, business daily Vedomosti reported, citing undisclosed government sources. Such a drastic

Sixty Percent of Russians Today Live or Have Lived in Poverty, Moscow Study Says

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 28, 2014) Sixty percent of the population of the Russian Federation is either poor now or has had experience with living in poverty in the past, a figure that is no longer falling as it was a decade ago and one that means Russians may be

Re: 2014-#220-Johnson’s Russia List (Adomanis on Applebaum)

Map of Russia

Subject: Re: 2014-#220-Johnson’s Russia List (Adomanis on Applebaum) Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2014 From: Martin Dewhirst <martin.dewhirst@googlemail.com> Anne Applebaum (whom I read but do not know personally) does not need a low-profile person like myself to spring to her defense, but I would guess that she is too busy, and would consider it beneath her dignity, to respond

NEWSLINK: Russia in grim go-it-alone mood as sanctions bite

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

[“Russia in grim go-it-alone mood as sanctions bite” – BBC – Bridget Kendall – BBC – Sochi, October 27, 2014] BBC News covers Russia’s Valdai Club meeting at Sochi and the impact of Ukraine-related Western sanctions on Russia. Russia’s efforts to reduce … reliance on trade with the West overshadowed a high-profile meeting between … Putin and foreign correspondents …. *

Interfax: Ulyukayev: GDP likely to decline in 2015 if low oil prices persist

Alexei Ulyukayev file photo

MOSCOW. Oct 24 (Interfax) – If current prices for oil persist in 2015, Russian GDP, retail trade, real incomes and investment will all decline, Ulyukayev said at a business breakfast hosted by Rossiiskaya Gazeta.” “If the current price of oil persists, then as soon as this year there will be practically no growth in real

Finance Minister: Russia Needs Backup Budget For Worst-Case Scenario

Anton Siluanov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – October 24, 2014) Russia must create a contingency budget to counter the threat that Western sanctions, economic stagnation and low oil prices will dash the country’s hopes of restoring growth in the near term, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Friday. “A budget cannot constantly have expenses that

RIA Novosti: Western sanctions increase Russians’ fears over economy – poll

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(RIA Novosti – Moscow, October 23, 2014) Russians have become more worried about the state of their country’s financial system after the introduction of Western sanctions, but at the same time the economic situation has not yet compelled Russians to massively change their spending behaviour, according to research conducted in October by Russia’s National Agency

Putin’s Nevsky-Stolypin tandem

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Desk

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Chris Weafer – October 24, 2014) Chris Weafer is Senior Partner at Macro-Advisory, which offers bespoke Russia-CIS consulting. Many of the headlines about Russia in recent months have quite rightly focused on the geopolitical risks and the sanctions impact on the economy. To that has recently been added the

Interfax: Western sanctions only united Russian society – Naryshkin

Russian Duma Building

CHERKESSK. Oct 21 (Interfax) – The sanctions imposed by Western countries against Russia have united Russians, said State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin. Speaking at a meeting with members of the Karachay-Cherkessia People’s Assembly on Tuesday, he said that Western partners have been putting pressure on Russia, in particular, by introducing a number of sanctions, including

Putin’s import substitution policy is working

Grain file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 21, 2014) When Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off European Union imports of agricultural products earlier this year, one of the rationales was to give a boost to the badly underdeveloped domestic sector – and it seems to working. September’s retail and investment numbers were down but agricultural

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

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

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Ruble devaluation compensates for loss of oil revenue

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Maria Karnaukh, special to RBTH – October 17, 2014) Falling oil prices – and the falling ruble – have different consequences for the budget and consumers Oil prices – and the Russian ruble – continue to sink. As of Oct. 16, the price of a barrel of Brent

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

RIA Novosti: Putin Limits Foreign Capital’s Participation in Russian Media: Government

File Photo of Cash, Coins, Line Graph

MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law reducing the possible share of foreign stockholders in the Russian media to 20 percent, says the corresponding document published on the Russian government’s official legal information web portal Wednesday. “Unless otherwise stipulated by an international treaty … a Russian legal entity

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,

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