The Lastest Macroeconomic News

19.03.2015 10:43 Russian Economy Shrank 0.7% in First Quarter, Central Bank Says

Russia`s economy shrank 0.7% on the year in the first quarter, Russian news agencies reported Monday, citing the central bank`s first deputy chairwoman, Ksenia Yudaeva. However, the Bank of Russia said on its website that its models paint a more optimistic economic outlook than the majority of official forecasts. According to its latest economic outlook, growth could reach 0.6% on the year in the second quarter. The central bank`s second-quarter forecast contrasts with its own forecast for the whole of 2015, for a gross domestic product contraction of up to 4%. Market economists and credit-rating firms expect the economy to contract by more than 5% this year, due to a sharp drop in oil prices and Western sanctions against Moscow. The central bank noted that its outlook for the second quarter could be revised lower as more official economic data is published. Russia`s Central Bank expects the country`s GDP recovery growth at 5.5-6.3% in 2017, the regulator said in its monetary policy report. In its previous forecast, the Russian Central Bank expected the domestic economy to expand by 0.8% in 2017.

18.03.2015 14:12 Russia cuts interest rate to 14% amid fears over economy

The Russian central bank has cut interest rates by one percentage point, sending a strong signal that it sees the rapidly declining economy as a more serious worry than high inflation. The bank cut its main interest rate to 14%, continuing an easing cycle that began in January when it unexpectedly cut the rate by two points. This time economists had broadly expected Friday`s move as the downturn gains pace due to the low international price of oil, Russia`s main export, and western sanctions imposed over Moscow`s role in the Ukraine conflict. The rouble has stabilized since a panicky collapse late last year, giving the bank breathing room to continue easing. However, the bank signaled that it is preparing for a worsening economy if the oil price fails to maintain a recent recovery. A central bank monetary policy document published on Friday said the economy could contract by up to 5.8% this year in a risk scenario based on oil prices averaging $40-$45 per barrel.

16.03.2015 14:49 Russian economy is ready to grow

After a year of sanctions and a contraction, the Russian economy is ready for the upside. What it needs are economic reforms and international integration not further sanctions and geopolitical isolation. While the political impact of the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov`s killing has been limited in Russia, it has fueled demands for new sanctions against Moscow in the West. Meanwhile, Russian equity valuations suggest potential for a strong performance over the coming months. Nevertheless, as long as sanctions prevail, the potential destabilization in the Russian economy and severe collateral damage in Europe will steadily increase.

15.03.2015 13:41 Russian economy could shrink by 5.8 percent in 2015

The Russian economy could contract by up to 5.8 percent this year in a "risk scenario" based on oil prices averaging around $40-$45 per barrel, a central bank said. Russia`s economy has slowed sharply in recent months as a collapse in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis have dragged on growth. The central bank sees gross domestic product contracting by 3.5-4.0 percent in 2015 in its "base case", which assumes oil prices averaging $50-55 per barrel. The bank sees the average price of Urals crude oil URL-E, Russia`s main export blend, rising to $60-65 in 2016 and $70-75 a barrel in 2017, under this base scenario. Under these assumptions, it forecasts a 1.0-1.6 percent economic contraction in 2016 followed by a 5.5-6.3 percent rebound in gross domestic product in 2017. The quarterly monetary policy document, which includes the bank`s latest macroeconomic forecasts, also showed the bank foresees its foreign currency reserves shrinking by $50 billion in 2015 but staying constant in 2016 in its most likely scenario. The bank also expects the reserves to recover by $36 billion in 2017. It saw Russia`s current account surplus at $64 billion this year, rising to $90 billion in 2016 and $119 billion in 2017.

13.03.2015 23:38 Russia`s GDP cheer may not last

Decent macro results in January may have showcased Russia`s economic flexibility, but it might be a false dawn. A respectable economic thinktank predicts a turn for the worse, and some preliminary February numbers already point to a deteriorating budget situation. The Russian economy did pretty well in January. Official statistics from the economy ministry show that GDP was down a modest 1.5% year-on-year (minus 1.1% y/y adjusted for fewer working days). Industrial output was up 0.9% y/y with a number of industries showing double-digit growth, offsetting double-digit declines in some others. There is evidence that the rouble devaluation is helping commodity exporters, while import substitution has had a visibly positive impact on, among others, food producers (benefiting from sanction-related import bans) and pipe manufacturers (offsetting a sharp drop of imports from Ukraine). At the same time, investments were sharply down ( minus 6.3% y/y) as well as retail trade (minus 4.4% y/y). Real disposable income shrank 0.8% y/y in January after a 6.2% drop in December. The release of January stats coincided with the publication of a 2015 forecast from the Gaidar institute for economic policy, an independent economic thinktank. It argues that the economic contraction in 2015 will be sharper than forecast by the Russian government, because of a deeper cut in investments and a steeper fall in disposable income.

12.03.2015 14:39 Three Ways Sanctions Have Weakened Russia`s Economy

Next week, EU leaders will meet to discuss effective, long-term strategies for policy with Russia. So far, sanctions have not been effective in changing Russian public support of Putin`s government. We can see with full clarity that they are trying to divide us inside of Europe, as well as Europe and America, EU Council chief Donald Tusk said at the White House after a meeting with President Obama ahead of next week`s summit. But when we are united, we will be able to put a stop to the aggressive policy of Russia. The White House declared last week that sanctions launched against Russia last March prohibiting banks and other financial institutions from doing business with Russia will continue for another year. Western sanctions -- on top of falling oil prices -- have sunk Russia`s economy in an almost steady decline over the past year. According to a new analysis by Bloomberg Business, Russia currently has the 7th most miserable economy in the world -- worse than Colombia, Croatia and Slovakia. Despite this, Russians remain resilient, overcoming food shortages with innovations in product creation, and ultimately overwhelmingly supporting President Vladimir Putin`s policies. Here are three ways Russia`s economy has declined over the past year, but haven`t actually affected popular opinion: FOOD EMBARGO. In response to sanctions from the west, the Kremlin banned imported foodstuffs from any country which had issued sanctions against Russia. As a result, food prices have spiked. INFLATION. The inflation rate in Russia reached a thirteen-year high for the nation in the month of February 2015 was 16.7, up from 15.0 in January, according to the Bank of Russia. DWINDLING RESERVES. Unstable markets have forced Russia liquidate a chunk of its foreign currency and gold reserves. The Central Bank`s reserve of about $600 billion has dwindled by more than $200 billion since 2008.

09.03.2015 23:15 Russian inflation reaches 16.7% in February 2015

Russian inflation reached 16.7 per cent in February as lower oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine caused the biggest jump in prices over one year since 2002, the state statistics service said. Prices rose a further 2.2 per cent in February after leaping 3.9 per cent in January - a rate unseen in 16 years - as the economy remains fragile after the rouble, at the end of last year, lost half its value against the dollar. The most dramatic rise was in food prices, soaring 23.3 per cent over the past year and 3.3 per cent in February alone. This increase resulted from Moscow`s ban on European Union and US food imports in retaliation for sanctions slapped on Russia over its backing of rebels in eastern Ukraine. Basic vegetables consumed regularly in Russian households were among the worst-affected with onions, carrots and beetroot increasing by around 10 per cent each in February. The economy ministry is expecting inflation to peak at 17 per cent by April, while the annual rate for 2015 has been forecast at 12.2 per cent. Russia`s inflation was estimated at 11.4 per cent in 2014, the highest level since the financial crisis of 2008, after coming in at 6.5 per cent in 2013.

06.03.2015 16:35 No, Obama, Russia`s economy isn`t in tatters

Western politicians and pundits should be more careful with their predictions for the Russian economy: Reports of its demise may prove to be premature. Bashing the Russian economy has lately become a popular pastime. In his state of the nation address last month, U.S. President Barack Obama said it was in tatters. And last week, Anders Aslund of the Peterson Institute for International Economics published an article predicting a 10 percent drop in gross domestic product this year - more or less in line with the apocalyptic predictions that prevailed when the oil price reached its nadir late last year and the ruble was in free fall. Aslund`s forecast focuses on Russia`s shrinking currency reserves, some of which have been earmarked for supporting government spending in difficult times. At $364.6 billion, they are down 26 percent from a year ago and $21.6 billion from the beginning of this year. Aslund expects $166 billion to be spent on infrastructure investments and bailing out companies, and another $100 billion to exit via capital flight and other currency outflows. As a result, given foreign debts of almost $600 billion, Russia`s reserve situation is approaching a critical limit, he says. What this argument ignores is that Russia`s foreign debts are declining along with its reserves - that`s what happens when the money is used to pay down state companies` obligations.

05.03.2015 22:25 The 15 most miserable economies in the world. Sorry, Venezuela

Inflation is a disease that can wreck a society, Milton Friedman, the late Nobel laureate economist, once said. Add rising unemployment to the diagnosis, and his profession ascribes a rather non-technical term to the debilitating effect on people: misery. That affliction this year will be most acute in Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, Ukraine and Greece - the five most painful economies in which to live and work, according to Bloomberg survey data that make up the so-called misery index for 2015. (It`s a simple equation: unemployment rate + change in the consumer price index = misery.) In Ukraine`s case, war will exact greater economic casualties. Tension with Russia-backed rebels will prolong joblessness in the eastern-European nation, and inflation won`t offer much relief, the surveys showed. The one-two punch means Ukrainian consumers are set to be the fourth-saddest among 51 economies (including the euro area) based on forecasts for the misery measure. The three countries that will probably see the most economic misery in 2015 - South Africa, Argentina and Venezuela - haven`t budged much from their 2014 rankings, when they occupied three of the top four spots, the data showed. Greece is 5th, Spain is 6th, Portugal is 10th and Italy is 11th in this year`s ranking, though each show about average projected income levels relative to survey peers. (Ireland happily sits further down the chain at No. 16 in the misery ranking and with a much-better-than-average GDP per capita of US$48,787. The 51 economies in our misery index average GDP per capita of US$31,079.)

04.03.2015 21:19 Why Russia`s economy will not collapse

The rapid depreciation of the rouble, despite a dramatic and seemingly desperate late-night interest-rate hike by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) in December last year, has raised the spectre of Russia`s economic meltdown in 1998. Indeed, the West has sought to animate that spectre in its ongoing confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But, though Russia`s economy is undoubtedly in trouble, a full-blown collapse is unlikely. Oil and gas account for more than 60% of Russia`s exports; other primary commodities make up much of the rest. Given this, the recent sharp decline in world oil prices obviously represents a major shock large enough, when combined with the effect of increasingly strict Western sanctions to provoke a sizeable recession. To make matters worse, commodity prices are expected to remain low for some time. In that case, the income loss would become much more than a temporary setback. But Russia is no economic basket-case-in-waiting at least not yet. The situation today is very different from that in 1998, when Russia was running twin fiscal and current-account deficits. Russia needed to borrow, and it was borrowing heavily in foreign currency. This meant that as the ruble depreciated, Russia`s debts rose. Eventually, default became inevitable. By contrast, in recent years, Russia has enjoyed a sizeable budget surplus, and public debt is below 20% of GDP. It is true that income from oil and gas, which represents the bulk of government revenues, has been halved when measured in dollars.

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