News / Economy

IMF: Sanctions Bring Russian Economic Growth to Standstill

FILE - T-shirts, displaying images of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, are on sale at GUM department store in central Moscow, June 11, 2014. The sign reads "Made in Fatherland."
FILE - T-shirts, displaying images of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, are on sale at GUM department store in central Moscow, June 11, 2014. The sign reads "Made in Fatherland."
Reuters

Sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine have brought growth to a standstill, had a “chilling effect” on investment and could force Moscow into economic isolation, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

The international lender's report chimed with words from Russia's central bank governor, Elvira Nabiullina, who told a banking conference that growth was not only unsatisfactory but was putting the country in a difficult situation.

Russia has been hit by sanctions from the United States and European Union, prompting investors to pull out of a country where leaders have used the punitive measures to call for a more self-sufficient, or patriotic, course for the economy.

With the Fund keeping its growth forecast at 0.2 percent this year, and the Russian central bank's at 0.4 percent, both undercut the Economy Ministry's hopes that its 0.5 percent estimate would be beaten this year and come in closer to 1 percent.

“Even without the escalation [of the Ukrainian crisis], prolonged uncertainty and the resulting deterioration of confidence could lead to lower consumption, weaker investment, and greater exchange rate pressure and capital outflows than assumed under the baseline,” the IMF said in a report.

“Moreover, this risks derailing the reform agenda and a shift toward more emphasis on economic self-reliance rather than integration with the rest of the world.”

President Vladimir Putin has called for business leaders to repatriate their assets and reduce their dependence on Western financial markets after Russian officials, many of them his close allies, were targeted by the sanctions which included asset freezes and visa bans.

But measures to try to protect the economy failed to stop Russia losing $80 billion in capital flight in the first five months of the year, the rouble losing 10 percent of its value against the dollar and inflation spiking.

The governor of Russia's central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, said economic growth was too low, causing concerns about investing in Russia.

“The rouble's long-term stability is possible only by lowering the outflow of capital,” Nabiullina told a central bank conference in St Petersburg.

Some Russian officials have played down the impact of sanctions on the economy, but the IMF said the “chilling effect” would hurt an economy at a crossroads when it might dump attempts to diversify away from its oil dependence.

Capital flight

“This comes at a crucial moment when the old growth model based on energy and use of spare capacity has been exhausted and moving to a new growth model based on diversification requires new investment, including foreign technology,” the IMF said.

Antonio Spilimbergo, the IMF's mission chief to Russia, underlined the message to journalists on the sidelines of the St Petersburg conference, saying Moscow should not retreat.

“It's very important to be more integrated with the rest of the world, both financially and economically,” he said. “Now, the recent events are problematic... because it would be a big pity if this takes a toll on investment in the longer term.”

Firms are not spending on tangible assets, such as building and infrastructure, and capital expenditure has been falling month after month, down 2.6 in April.

Instead, money is flowing out of the country. The IMF estimates that capital outflows could reach $100 billion this year, in line with the Russian government's estimates.

The Fund said fiscal budget reserves, of around 0.3 percent of GDP last year, would cushion the overall budget balance from Crimea-related spending on infrastructure.

The Russian government revised down its budget surplus forecast on Tuesday to 0.4 percent.

“Under the baseline scenario, general government debt is expected to remain sustainable and low,” the IMF said.

Russia's sovereign debt to GDP ratio stood at around 12 percent last year, while many developed countries, such as Italy or Japan, carry a burden of 100 percent or more.

The IMF urged the Finance Ministry, however, to remain prudent in spending and when assuming the base oil price for budgetary purposes.

The energy sector accounts for one-fifth of Russia's gross domestic product, two-thirds of exports and around one-third of general government revenues.

“Additional fiscal measures, if needed, should be temporary and of high quality and be set in a medium-term framework that ensures sustainability,” the IMF said. “But additional fiscal consolidation in outer years is needed to rebuild buffers.”

The Finance Ministry manages two sovereign funds, the Reserve Fund and the National Wealth Fund, which stand at $87 billion each. The Reserve Fund, which is to cover budget shortcomings, is meant to reach ultimately 7 percent of GDP.

Last year, it stood at 4.3 percent.

“With the Reserve Fund below its target, the authorities risk pro-cyclical fiscal adjustments in the event of large and lasting oil price decline,” the IMF said.

“This risk is heightened given the already high level of oil prices. Staff argued for more prudent oil-price assumption during the budget process to generate more savings.”

The IMF says the central bank should raise rates to try to curb inflation, which it expects at 6.5 percent by the end of the year, above the central bank's estimate of around 6 percent.

The central bank's general target is 4.5 percent.

“Higher rates would also help reduce capital outflows that have emerged amid geopolitical tensions, global liquidity tightening and rate hikes by major emerging markets' central banks,” it added. 

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.