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
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9103
JPY
USD
119.37
GBP
USD
0.6704
CAD
USD
1.2481
INR
USD
62.371

Rates may not be current.