News / Economy

Despite Falling Growth, Russia Reverts to Old Playbook on Economy

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Federation Council Deputy Chairman Yuri Vorobyov during a meeting with members of the Federation Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, March 27, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Federation Council Deputy Chairman Yuri Vorobyov during a meeting with members of the Federation Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, March 27, 2014.
Reuters
Russian officials have dramatically reduced growth forecasts for this year and acknowledged the annexation of Crimea will spur capital outflows and hurt investment, but they have not entirely ripped up the old script.

At an investment conference on Thursday, Russia's central bank head and finance and economy ministers were sanguine, boasting they had ways to protect the economy against the fallout from the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.

Most would not have to be used, they said, and the crisis over Crimea eventually could help the economy become more self-sufficient, a message that matches President Vladimir Putin's longstanding drive to bring money home from abroad.

While sticking to a protocol agreed last week with Putin for all public comments to refer to economic and financial stability, however, Russia's three leading financial officials were clearly making preparations for the worst.
 
U.S. Officials Sanctioned by Russia

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
  • Senator John McCain
  • Senator Daniel Coats
  • Senator Robert Menendez
  • Senator Mary Landrieu
  • House Speaker John Boehner
  • Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson
  • Presidential Aide Daniel Pfeiffer
  • Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

Having already stopped referring to the official growth forecast for 2.5 percent this year, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said instead it could slow to 0.6-0.7 percent if capital flight reached $100 billion this year.

The Economy Ministry has estimated capital outflows of up to $70 billion in the first quarter alone.

“[With] an outflow of $150 billion, growth becomes negative,” he said, suggesting Russia could tumble into recession for the first time since the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008-09.

In the first estimate by a leading international body, the World Bank said on Wednesday Russia's economy could contract markedly this year and see record capital outflows of $150 billion if the crisis over Crimea deepens.

It said Russia's gross domestic product could shrink by 1.8 percent, hurt by uncertainty over future measures the West may take to punish Russia for annexing Crimea - a move criticized by Ukraine, the United States and the European Union as illegal.

Economists have also said Russia's economy would suffer badly if the price of oil, its main export item, were to fall.

A Reuters poll of analysts on Thursday showed that increasing supplies from North America and OPEC nations coupled with sluggish global demand will push oil prices lower in 2014, with further falls expected in 2015 and 2016.

Fears for Future

Russia's former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, agreed, saying it was not the sanctions themselves that were damaging the economy but the expectation of more, possibly targeting trade or finance, and also how Moscow would retaliate.

“All this affects the amount of capital outflows and investments. The general atmosphere of uncertainty about Russian policy in these circumstances is also a deterrent,” he said.

“My forecast for economic growth is about zero, plus or minus 0.5 percent,” he said, pegging outflows at $150 billion to $160 billion.

He said this was what it cost to pursue an independent foreign policy and society was so far prepared to agree to such a cost.

“We are paying hundreds of billions of dollars for this, hundreds of billions, and we will see lower GDP growth, investment and revenues,” said Kudrin.

For now, most officials are at least publicly backing Putin's decision to pursue his strident foreign policy, forcing their financial colleagues to come up with ways to plug the gap.

Ulyukayev urged a loosening in budget funds to help spur investment, possibly from oil revenues.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said he was ready to offer companies the same emergency measures adopted during the 2008-2009 financial crisis when the government spent billions of dollars -- or about 8 percent of GDP -- bailing out Russia's major banks and companies.

He suggested using funds from the National Wealth Fund, a sovereign fund financed from oil taxes designed to support the pension system, which as of March 1, stood at $87.3 billion.

Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina also promoted a plan to ease borrowing at home, pointing to three-year refinancing for banks secured by state-backed investment projects as a way of reducing reliance on Western finance.

For the time being, though, the overall message was relatively upbeat.

“We expect that one of the consequences of these recent events could be an increase in demand for credits inside the country, if access to lending abroad is reduced for companies and banks,” said Nabiullina.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8140
JPY
USD
118.81
GBP
USD
0.6402
CAD
USD
1.1597
INR
USD
63.066

Rates may not be current.