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Thread: The Russian economy (catch all)

  1. #21
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Barter...

    From the Moscow Times: Millionaire's Crisis Plan: Return to Bartering

    While the global economic crisis didn't sweep into Russia until September, Sterligov said he sensed that trouble was looming in August and got to work.

    "I decided that barter trade would be the right choice for the world in times of liquidity problems and payment delays," he said in a recent interview.

    So from August to November, computer programmers hired by Sterligov created an interactive database allowing the barter of debt and goods worldwide.

    Sterligov illustrated a possible barter deal with a real-life example: Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works' estimated debt of 1 billion rubles ($30.4 million) to Mechel for coal supplies.

    "Mechel could put information about MMK's nonpayment in our system and then add which products it needs itself," Sterligov said.

    MMK, in turn, would put 1 billion rubles of steel into the system, he said. At some point, a company would surface that wanted steel and had a product needed by Mechel, and the deal would be completed.

    "For this to work, you have to have thousands of bids in the system," Sterligov said, adding that debt would probably become the most popular item for barter.

    Mechel and MMK declined to comment about their possible participation in such a system.

    Barter trade was widespread in Russia in the 1990s, when economic turmoil following the Soviet collapse prompted companies to pay employees and creditors with the products they produced — anything from bricks to vegetable oil.
    From the NY Times: Have Car, Need Briefs? In Russia, Barter Is Back

    All this evokes a bit of déjà vu. In the mid-1990s, barter transactions in Russia accounted for an astonishing 50 percent of sales for midsize enterprises and 75 percent for large ones.

    The practice kept businesses afloat for years but also allowed them to defer some fundamental changes needed to make them more competitive, like layoffs and price reductions. It also hurt tax revenues.

    The comeback is on a small scale so far. The most recent statistics available, from November, showed that barter deals made up about 3 to 4 percent of total sales, according to the Russian Economic Barometer, an independent bulletin. Nevertheless, economists are taking note.
    From BBC German Sterligov: The oligarch who gave it all up

    A man who became Russia's second official millionaire following the collapse of communism has abandoned his wealth to live as a peasant in a remote part of the country.
    Sapere Aude

  2. #22
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    Return to bartering? I don't know if they ever left....I posted this report before, but it's worth posting again. It's a good explanation of Russia's virtual economy, including the role of bartering.

    "Abstract: The virtual economy was the system of informal rent-distribution that arose in post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s as nonviable Soviet-era manufacturing industries sought to protect themselves from the discipline of the market. Enterprise directors and their allies throughout the economy (including government officials) colluded to use nonmarket prices and various forms of nonmonetary exchange such as barter to transfer value from resource sectors to manufacturing industry. The article discusses the system’s historical roots, describes some of its characteristic phenomena, and outlines a model for behavior of enterprises."

  3. #23
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    This was in today's Eurasia Daily Monitor:

    Russia Preparing to Buy Allies Through Anti-Crisis Assistance

    "Moscow's anti-crisis subsidies are targeted selectively and geared for sphere-of-influence building. Russia is rewarding allied Armenia; it has precipitated Kyrgyzstan's threat to remove the U.S.-led military presence from that country; and it induced a reluctant Belarus to accept Russia's demand to turn the joint air defense system into a unified system."

    The author of the article also questions whether Russia will be able to actually disburse these funds...

    US/European Donors pledges billions for Georgia...and Russia responds. Do any of the players actually have the cards or are they bluffing? My answer is high-stakes bluffing.

  4. #24
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
    US/European Donors pledges billions for Georgia...and Russia responds. Do any of the players actually have the cards or are they bluffing? My answer is high-stakes bluffing.
    Hey Eric !
    No bluff on the NATO/US/EU part. FY08 and 09 funds are definitely there (note that some monies from previous FYs are good for 2 to 5 years).

    Have you had a chance to peruse the EUMM site? Lots of bluffing going on there as the EU get's Georgia to back off the demarcation line and asks the Russians to do the same

    Now that's major bluffing

    Regards, Stan
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  5. #25
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Default Behind the "Little green men" its the economy

    So far the blood has only run in the stock market, with the Russia RTS losing around 10%.




    Of course the other European markets suffered also but 'only' around 2%. This actually means that more capital was 'burnt' in the West, but of course it is far easier to absorb those losses.

    More important then the Russian Market Crash was the fate suffered by the ruble:







    Perhaps the most telling aspect of the rumbling was that it happened despite two powerful actions by the Russian Central Bank. They used both major tools to support the own currency. Still it got rumbled pretty badly.

    1. Russia’s central bank has announced an emergency interest rate hike this morning, raising its key borrowing rate from 5.5% to 7% after seeing the ruble crash to new record lows against the euro and dollar. (copy&past from the Guardian)

    Paweł Morski @Pawelmorski
    Follow

    150bps rate hikes on an economy that was already as sick as a dog. Crimea not looking like an easy victory from here. #Russia
    8:21 AM - 3 Mar 2014
    2. They did also try to directly bolster the ruble at the tune of over $10Bn

    Steve Collins ‏@TradeDesk_Steve 2 Std.

    Russian C.Bank has sold over $10Bn to support
    So far the war was not cheap and that after all that money thrown at Sotchi.

    LukeReuters 24 Min.

    What with the cost of the Sochi Olympics and efforts to prop up the rouble, #Russia has spent about 3 pct of its GDP ($61 bln)
    The rise in interest rates may be the bigger problem for now for most people.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

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    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  6. #26
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    @jmm99: Thanks, I will try to understand a bit more the Russian economy and the damage it may take from a longer conflict with the West. I will leave the legal side to you

    --------

    First of all it is important to quote Rumsfeld:

    Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.
    I will first try to to get some basic facts about the economy. Keep in mind that it is harder to find the right linkable thing then the right thing alone...


    1. The Federal budget of Russia

    It depends mostly on oil and gas revenues. As much of service sector is obviously strongly linked to the commodity sector the 52% number underestimates this dependence. Think Gulf states.





    The Finnish Central Bank has an interesting study about Russia's revenue problem which is highly likely to become worse in the long run.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-03-2014 at 08:42 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  7. #27
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    2. Russias trade



    a) Balance of trade




    b) Exports

    The only surprise is just how much of the export comes from commodities...




    c) Partners

    The EU and the Urkaine hardly worth to mention, I guess...



    Russia on the other hand is the most important one for the EU, surely:

    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  8. #28
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    A snapshot:


    Let us combine those four basic points:

    1. Russias federal budgets depends over 50% on commodity revenues

    2. Most of it's commodities get exported, making up the vast majority of the exports

    3. The Western World + Ukraine import roughly 80% or those

    4. Russia trade share of the the EU+USA is closer to 5 then 10%


    Clearly Russia is economically absolutely impervious to any trade actions of the G7 or discouting Japan, the US + EU while the latter have to shudder in fear of the Russian economic might.

    This sounds pretty simplistic but is an excellent anchor from which to look at some of the interesting details...
    Last edited by Firn; 03-03-2014 at 09:44 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  9. #29
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    @Fuchs: A good entry. So far:

    1) Putin should not forgot that turning the valves will stop a large part of the revenues financing his budget and his invasion.

    2) In the long run such threads incentives the substitution from other geographical and energy sources.

    3) Russia needs Europe a lot more then the other side around.

    ----

    P.S: I'm actually no longer sure if freezing the assets of specific Russians around the warmonger is the smartest way for now after looking at the desperate attempts of the Russian Central Bank to reduced the rumbling of the rouble. As written before the already 10 billions, 2-3% of their reserves to dampen the fall and increased the interest rates by 150 points in a weak economy.

    Operators of privately run exchange booths in Russia said they were not prepared for the higher demand for the US dollar.

    An employee at a small exchange said that her booth, which is open 24 hours a day, ran out of dollars by Sunday morning.

    "We were not ready for this, we have not stocked up," she said.
    So what are the best ways to help the Russian Central Bank to burn through it's reserves? Promoting capital flight into the € and the $ away from the rouble is certainly one of it.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-03-2014 at 09:34 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  10. #30
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Firn,

    Thanks for the economic data. However, I think we should consider that (1) short-term economic losses in the financial market can be quickly restored once stability is perceived to return and (2) economies as systems tend to be far more resilient during conflict than generally assumed. Interestingly, the combination of falling ruble value and increased prices for oil and natural gas can work to Moscow's advantage as far as cash balance is concerned.

    From oilprice.com:

    Stocks are taking a beating, but investors are pouring money into commodities on the expectation that supplies could be cut off. Russia rounds out the top three oil producers in the world (along with the United States and Saudi Arabia), so the prospect of a Russian ground war in Ukraine is causing some serious jitters in oil markets. Crude oil (Brent) was up more than 2.2% to $111 per barrel in morning trading on March 3.
    As you highlighted, the Russian economy is largely centered on commodity exports.

    From the same article:

    Europe imports 34% of its natural gas imports from Russia via Ukraine. Supply fundamentals appear to be normal, and thus far there are no reports of disruptions. Citigroup says it does not believe supplies will be “materially affected,” as reported by Bloomberg. But the markets are not so convinced.
    Again, the key unknown here is how Kiev will resolve it's own cash problems, the deadline for which is approaching in several weeks. IMF loans conditioned on austerity measures, which will no doubt cut the natural gas subsidies in Ukraine, could escalate the domestic political crisis in the country. What then?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  11. #31
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    1. About the Russian gas weapon

    I wrote earlier:

    1) Putin should not forgot that turning the valves will stop a large part of the revenues financing his budget and his invasion.

    2) In the long run such threads incentives the substitution from other geographical and energy sources.

    3) Russia needs Europe a lot more then the other side around.

    I can not look into the mind of the governments of the Central Europe and don't know what they know and think. Maybe some truly ignore that in the short and the long run Russia needs Europe money far more then Europe needs Russias gas. See the Federal Clay Budget of Russia, the reliance on European demand to finance their state, the full NG reserves in Europe, the time of year, etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ulenspiegel View Post
    Re sanctions:

    In the medium (10 years) or long term (>20 years) timeframe the Russian position is not strong when we consider decreasing demand for NG and oil in Europe, the increasing global LNG capacities, lack of Russian LNG capacity, and the structure of the Russian (export) economy. Most of the NG is used in central Europe for heating of buildings. Fortunately, these buildings have an poor insulation level. :-)

    The best answer is to build one or two more LNG facilities in the Netherlands, UK and Germany, to ramp-up refitting programs for buildings (KfW) and simply wait. The goal is to compensate for decline of UK and Norwegian NG production with more non-Russian LNG imports, at the same time, efficiency gains will reduce demand for Russian NG.

    As the economy of Ukraine is a mess - it is even worse than the Russian economy - an occupation of more territory than the Crim does not improve the Russian strategic position IMHO.
    This article supports that take on the gas front. Lower demand through mostly higher efficiency and some alternative energy will hit the Russian state revenues hard in the long run.

    For starters, we are not now in early January but in March, considered the final month of the continental European heating season, when demand is likely to be highest. Moreover, this has been a particularly mild winter – the mildest since 2008 – and higher than normal temperatures are forecast to continue for several weeks yet, significantly reducing demand for gas and leaving prices at their lowest for two years. Energy market analysts at the French bank Société Générale said in a briefing note last month that European gas demand in 2013 was at its lowest level since 1999. In the UK, gas consumption is currently approaching a 12-year low.

    Partly as a result of weaker demand, but also because since the first "gas war" of 2006, many European countries have made huge efforts to increase their gas storage capacity and stocks are high. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Moldova, which lack large storage capacity and depend heavily on gas supplies via Ukraine, would certainly suffer from any disruption in supplies. But Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), which represents the gas infrastucture industry, estimated that in late February European gas storage was 10 percentage points higher than this time last year and about half full; the National Grid puts Britain's stocks at about 25 percentage points above the average for the time of year.

    "The conflict won't have any impact at all" on prices, a Frankfurt-based analyst told Bloomberg News. "The gas price is currently influenced by temperatures and storage levels, and both don't favour demand right now." Prices of gas for delivery next month have risen around 10%, but that reflects insecurities in the market about a possible military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine rather than worries about fundamental shortages of supply were Gazprom to turn off the taps, the analyst told the agency.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-04-2014 at 01:12 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  12. #32
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    2. About the financial markets

    The Russian market rallied today, gaining back half of what he lost earlier. More importantly the Rouble recovered a similar amount. I would love if and then how Russian financial entities acted. One should keep in mind Ben Graham: “In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run it is a weighing machine.”

    In any case the sharp increase in interest rates, which are now arguably far too high for the weak Russian economy will work against it for the time being.

    What I thought highly interesting that Putin decided to act today in a 'calming manner'. While most of the market gains happened earlier panic in the Russian financial markets is obviously no good.

    Vladimir Putin has described the turmoil in the financial markets as a tactical and temporary state of affairs, during his ongoing press conference on Ukraine (live on Sky News channels now, and streamed here).

    He also tried to pin some of the blame on America, saying that there was already a degree of nervousness due to certain US policies (ie, the slowing of the Federal Reserve’s huge stimulus programme).
    I wonder when the last time was that he commented about the financial markets. That he tried to blame some of the crash somehow on the America was however not unexpected...
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  13. #33
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    Moscow (AFP) - Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the United States if Washington agreed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, a Kremlin aide said on Tuesday, warning that the American financial system faced a "crash" if this happened.
    Glazyev has long been seen as among the most hawkish of the advisors to President Vladimir Putin but many observers have seen his hand in the apparent radicalisation of policy on Ukraine since the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych.

    Economists have long mocked his apocalyptic and confrontational vision of global economics but also expressed concern that he appears to have grown in authority in recent months.
    http://news.yahoo.com/russia-warns-c...6261.html?vp=1
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  14. #34
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    I truly hope for the Russian people that Putin does not listen to him, for Russia the economic game is already tough enough and scoring own goals is more likely to wreak economic havoc at home.

    Bloomberg, one of those nasty capitalist websites, reports:

    Shrinking Reserves

    Bank Rossii sold between $10.5 billion and $12 billion to support the ruble yesterday, Dmitry Polevoy, chief economist at ING in Moscow, wrote in an e-mailed note. The central bank is scheduled to release data on the size of the sales tomorrow, in accordance with its policy to post figures with a two-day lag.

    Russia’s foreign reserves have fallen $40 billion since May to $493 billion, according to data through Feb. 21. ING said the country’s “net” war chest, excluding its sovereign wealth fund, gold and International Monetary Fund reserves, is about $270 billion. Allowing for funds to cover three months of imports, it shrinks to $150 billion, he said.

    The central bank allows the ruble to float within a flexible corridor against its target dollar-euro basket. Bank Rossii said it will set the amount of market interventions it takes to shift the trading band on a daily basis, giving officials more flexibility in determining how many dollars it sells at a given price level before weakening the ruble’s trading band.

    Yesterday, policy makers set the threshold at $1.5 billion, up from $350 million previously, according to the statement on Bank Rossii’s website.
    I would love to hear if and how much money they used yesterday to keep the ruble afloat. However it is quite possible that the Russian Central Bank is already under orders to keep things as much as possible under wraps.

    Some threats out of Russia from this Glazyev sound like really a parody, I had to laugh when I heard that he came up with the idea to drop the US dollar as a reserve currency.

    From Reuters:

    A Kremlin aide said on Tuesday that if the United States were to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, Moscow might be forced to drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks.

    Catch that? Glazyev is literally threatening to put his own companies into default. That's the opposite of a threat.

    ....

    Glazyev probably thinks it sounds good domestically to make these threats and to imagine that they're of any significance. For everyone else they're just an amusement.
    Well put, quite likely but then again he might believe his own nonsense.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-05-2014 at 11:51 AM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

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    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  15. #35
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Just short article at the Russian economy in terms of capital inflow or better capital flight.


    In

    The real potential damage to Russia's economic future is self-inflicted. The real fallout from a prolonged conflict in Ukraine, or even of a worsening of the already negative international perception of Moscow's role in the affairs of its neighbor, may be to radically slow the inflow of much-needed investment capital while capital outflows accelerate.

    Last year, Russia scored a spectacular success in attracting $94 billion worth of foreign direct investment according to a report compiled by the United Nations and released in mid-February. That was a jump of 83 percent over the previous year and placed Russia third in the table behind China, which attracted $127 billion, and the U.S. with $159 billion. Some of the high figure was due to the BP investment into Rosneft as part of the deal to sell TNK. But the success of Russia's Direct Investment Fund, which attracted about $10 billion of fresh commitment in 2013, is also an important factor, The fund is well-placed to repeat that success in the coming years.

    That money is critical if the country is to pull out of the current growth slump and achieve the targeted annual growth rate of 4 to 5 percent. Last year, the economy grew at just under 1.3 percent, and the macro data published for January suggests the annualized rate has slowed further, possibly to less than 1 percent. While some government officials are talking optimistically about a bounce in the economy from the spring or in the second half of the year, others are more realistic. Despite the fact that the weak ruble and high oil price are boosting the revenues of the federal budget, oil wealth is no longer capable of delivering higher growth. The combination is certainly helping to improve the national balance sheet, but it is definitely not a growth driver.
    Out

    But attracting foreign capital is only part of the story, of course. Russia also needs to persuade its own citizens to keep their money at home and to invest in their own country's future. Capital flight is a catch-all description that combines normal trade and capital flows with individuals' money being exported out of the country, which is estimated to be about one-quarter of total capital flight. In 2013, total capital flight was $62.7 billion. This means that about $15.5 billion, or 50 percent more than the Russia's Direct Investment Fund attracted from big investment funds in the Middle East and Asia, is money that individuals prefer to save or spend elsewhere rather than at home. Between 2008 and the end of 2013, capital flight totaled $420 billion. Applying the same formula suggests that more than $100 billion of that was from individuals.

    Although only two months into 2014, this year is already shaping up to be another big one for capital flight. The total for January was $17 billion, or just greater than the $16.6 billion reported for the fourth quarter of 2013. Given the ruble's weakness and growing crisis in Ukraine, the total for February is expected to have been higher. March could be even worse if the Central Bank is unable to stabilize the currency and the standoff in Crimea escalates.
    Good to seem some fresh numbers. I'm pretty sure many financial managers with Russian clients will be rather busy at the moment...

    ---

    BTW the OCSE* storms an Ukrainian shop:



    *Minus some countries. I would love to know what the guys working in the shop were thinking....
    Last edited by Firn; 03-07-2014 at 01:31 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  16. #36
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    To honest it is quite sad to see the Russian economy in it's state. In some ways it is worse then I imagined before I looked at the hard facts. For example I would have put the revenue share in the federal budget from commodities at most around 30-40%. A nation, an European nation with such a rich tradition in science and engineering which finances it's state almost like a Gulf country is a tragedy. It makes itself also very vulnerable in any serious economic dispute. Of course after the latest aggression it's neighbours might actually be happy that Putins Russia has big economic weaknesses.

    @AmericanPride: I fear we have to disagree again in some areas, just like in the economic discussion

    1. Yes Putin and his Russia did gain 'political leverage' by creating military facts on the ground. But at the price of creating great resistance and even hatred within the Ukrainian government and especially it's people. He might actually annex the occupied Crimea, given the current playbook, as bringing the peninsula 'back home' is very popular and might be seen as a longterm achievement. In this case it is also rather likely that the lost 40+ Ukrainians millions for a long time. The international and economic fallout is harder to judge but there will be a price, it is just the question how big it will be.

    2. A week ago I would have mostly agreed with the neat (and pretty smart ) statement: "To be in this government is to commit political suicide,” he said. “And we need to be very frank and open". But now as an invader has come like a thief in the night this government will have a far easier time to do make reforms, even tough ones, and to get financial and legal aid from abroad.*

    The billions from the West, mostly the EU do have strings attached but some of them containe little to none. The IMF has shown himself impressed and the rules of games are obviously not the same as before. The EU has done something very rare, accepting unilateral benifts for the other side. Good to see that he also found the graph I posted over a week ago.

    3. I have already posted enough about the economic vulnerability of the Russian economy and it's elite. Of course Putin can go ahead an let his citiziens suffer greatly for his little invasion, his political positions seems secured well enough that he can show strong willpower against the West. The big question is not if the Western powers can inflict rather serious harm on the Russian economy and elite, the question is if they have the political willpower to pay the relative moderate price for doing so.

    Slashing subventions important for the majority in such difficult economic times is almost always a massive blunder, but the winter is over and the natural gas comes from the invader so it might be possible. If it is wise is another question.

    @AdamG: This might actually have facilitated the latest political decisions by Putin. Perhaps it is not that stupid to keep the door open for the big capital flight from Russia...

    @Kaur: I will leave that area to better informed folk, personally I was just suprised by the ratio of suppressed weapons by some non-Russian Russian troops.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-08-2014 at 09:33 AM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  17. #37
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    A timely piece by the NYT.

    Anxiety over possible economic fallout has begun to radiate from business circles, and some wondered whether Mr. Putin had been warned clearly about the magnitude of the possible damage to the economy. One analyst described their mind-set as one of “cognitive dissonance.”

    “I’ve seen 10 people from the Forbes list in the recent few days. They’re pale; they don’t understand,” said Aleksandr Y. Lebedev, a prominent banker who sold most of his Russian assets after public disputes with Mr. Putin. But the oligarchs realize, he said, that their interests carry no weight in this situation, especially if they, like Mr. Lebedev himself, own property outside Russia.
    “It’s those who are here who will take the burden,” said Mr. Lebedev, speaking from Moscow. “They all keep their mouths shut.”
    There is no doubt that Putin has been able to concentrate much of the power on his person. The rules of the game have changed a lot in this regard since the years after the SU fall.

    “Of course they’re upset, but it doesn’t mean they are prepared to challenge Russia’s foreign policy,” said Mikhail E. Dmitriyev, an economist whose research group, the Center for Strategic Research, was originally founded to shape Mr. Putin’s economic platform. “This is a new reality. Even if somebody has reservations with regard to the policy’s effectiveness, I strongly doubt they would express it. This is a policy which, for the moment, is backed by the vast majority of the public. It’s not an exaggeration.”

    In private conversations, though, several people described high anxiety within corporations, especially about the prospect of any sanctions’ affecting banks. Large Russian corporations have significantly increased foreign borrowing in recent years, and 10 were negotiating loans when the crisis boiled over, said Ben Aris, the editor and publisher of Business New Europe. Financial sanctions could set off a chain reaction of blocked transactions, frozen accounts and bank closings. “Those oligarchs who are already having trouble would be completely cut off,” he said.
    It certainly could hardly happen to a nicer bunch. Liquidity could indeed become a massive problem if the West decides to implement harsh sanctions. Freezing and blocking Russian capital could have devastating effects on the oligarchs and the Russian economy as a whole.

    P.S: Interestingly today the ruble has lost far more against the Euro vs the USD then the €/$ exchange rate explains. We know that the Bank Rossii has tried to defend the ruble by selling lots of USD which became hard to come by and got perhaps controlled. So perhaps now much demand has shifted to the Euro. This is obviously a quick speculation, the thing just catched my attention.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-11-2014 at 05:11 PM. Reason: duiplicate citation removed
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  18. #38
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Firn:

    That is very finely written. I am officially jealous.
    Thanks, but I really should check my posts at least twice, it should have been 'guys'.


    A look at Russia:

    'A kick into the teeth' of the Russian people:

    Lawmakers from pro-Kremlin parties United Russia and LDPR have submitted to the State Duma a bill abolishing popular elections of mayors and city councils in major cities.

    Analysts said the legislation represents an attempt to increase the dependence of municipal authorities on the Kremlin and effectively liquidate their self-government. Some observers also interpreted the proposed measure as part of a Kremlin effort to consolidate power in reaction to the political crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

    The reform would apply to 67 large cities, including 56 regional capitals. The mayors of affected cities would be elected by city councils from among their members, while the city councils would consist of deputies delegated by newly created assemblies of city districts.

    City governments would be headed by city managers — executives appointed by commissions, half of which would be chosen by governors and the other half by city councils.

    The bill's sponsors argued that the bill would help fulfill an order by President Vladimir Putin
    Sadly this is just the acceleration of a long term trend in which more and more power within Russia gets centralized and concentrated. The 'Russian Federation' seems increasingly to be so only in name.

    This grab of power was not restricted to the political landscape but was particularly severe in the one of the media. There are lots of recent examples, like the one made only yesterday:

    The longtime editor-in-chief of news agency Lenta.ru has been replaced by the former editor of a Kremlin-friendly online publication, prompting an uproar among many journalists who say the move is just the latest nail in the coffin of Russia's independent media.

    Alexander Mamut, head of the Russian Internet news service's parent company Afish-Rambler-SUP, said Galina Timchenko had resigned from her post, but the Lenta.ru editoral staff released a statement saying she had been forced out.
    It is deeply tragic for the vast majority that at a critical junction of Russia's history, in a time of political and economic instability a Mr. Putin was able to grasp the reigns of power. After almost 15 years he doesn't seem willing to let them go and his long consolidation has made it very difficult to see change coming. The bad luck of Russia was compounded by the boom of the commodities, especially the energy ones:



    This has allowed the state to rather easily get it's hands on the by far dominant revenue stream and to support it's internal (and external) political agenda. The Kremlin could increasingly use all that money to achieve it's (short term) goals. The Russian economy has become an extractive one in every sense of the world and increasingly unable to get much sustainable growth in other sectors, especially those in need of high human capital. For the leadership this tight leash on economy has been quite beneficial in the short term but it is aweful for the Russian economy in the long run.

    I generally don't advise people to try too hard to find connections between two graphs, but it is quite interesting if we consider the almost Gulf State-like Russian dependency on (energy) commodity revenues outlined earlier. Needless to say that the commodity index should be portrayed as a moving average.



    It is important to look at the long term development of the index, not the often wild swings which can often get pretty smoothed out by the automatic stabilizers within an economy and fiscal policies. The weak performance of the Russian economy in the last year and it's bad outlook already before the crisis should not come at a surprise.
    Last edited by Firn; 03-13-2014 at 01:01 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  19. #39
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    I really don't know if those troops will invade Eastern Ukraine. However there is in my opinion the danger that Mr. Putin thinks the following: If Russia faces increasingly tough sanctions over the annexation of the Crimea anyway why don't add two-three other Ukrainian oblasts to the motherland?

    Donetsk and Luhansk have a relative large amount of ethnic Russians and could provide some useful local speratists. They have been already invaded by payed Russian thugs. It gets even better. Today we hear reports that Russia is using the killings by it's thugs to remind the world of it's 'duty' to 'protect' it's 'compatriots' in the political turmoil Russia itself is creating. Amazing stuff, as a Western FM I would have a very hard time not to laugh into Lavrovs face.

    ----

    A quick look at the situation of the Ruble. According to this site (translated by google) the Bank Rossii has used another $ 6bn to row against the flow and still it got overall pushed back against it's currency basket. This makes at least $ 21 bn + a 150 points interest rate hike in two weeks and the ruble goes from all-time low to all-time low despite over a 600 points premium against the Euro and USD.

    Roughly two weeks ago:

    Russia’s foreign reserves have fallen $40 billion since May to $493 billion, according to data through Feb. 21. ING said the country’s “net” war chest, excluding its sovereign wealth fund, gold and International Monetary Fund reserves, is about $270 billion. Allowing for funds to cover three months of imports, it shrinks to $150 billion, he said.
    I have no time to calculate the exact numbers but here is no doubt that although the war chest is relatively large it is under considerable pressure and liquidity is flowing out. I would not be surprised if tries to sell some securities of the SWF and gold to get more cash, and there is of course the interesting question what and at which cost the fund did buy. If the carry the investments at market price it is likely that those will have gone down, reducing the size of the war chest.

    The falling ruble will cause the price of the imported goods to increase which will not go down well among the Russian population. I don't know how the volume will do. In any case it is plain how foolish the Russians will be to cut their own cash flow by stopping it's exports. In a relative short time, perhaps a couple of months or even less they could not longer cover the imports. And that will get the attention of a large share of of the Russians, especially those at the very top...
    Last edited by Firn; 03-14-2014 at 08:19 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  20. #40
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    Find it interesting that the leader of the Jewish community in Kiev stated recently that they have had no problems with neo right radicals and or neo Nazi's and that they the Jewish community Kiev were also fighting in the Maidan just as was the neo right.

    Really thought the use of the fear of "Nazi's" had died with Stalin.

    But I guess old habits of the KGB die hard.
    Reading the NYT Lede blog, watching a couple of minutes of videos and seeing the Kremlins reaction is really a chilling experience. I would have dismissed it as far too simplistic a couple of weeks ago, but the current actions of Putins regime have indeed KGB all written over it.

    Indeed it is not a single action or the combination of some, it is brazen depth and vast width of the whole package which cries KGB, KGB, KGB. That inner circles seems to completely disregard the diplomatic,legal and economic consequences of their deeds, looking almost only through those KGB glasses at the world.

    The good thing is that with tiny sanctions the EU and USA have already triggered a great flight out of the ruble and nice burning of foreign reserves. I think it is high time that they ratchet up the effort, perhaps ideally each couple of days to keep the Russian market nervous and to let the capital flee. If the Russian retaliate economically, all the better, as they will hurt themselves the most and the West can easily match it to inflicht further pain. As stated before, cutting off the gas supply into the EU by themselves would be ideally harmful, if there is a little bit of political willpower on the European side.

    Of course a week ruble would decrease the prices of their industrial products and services, making their goods more competitive but exactly what goods? What are they able to sell in a meaningful number to make up the lost revenues? To which non-Western country?
    Last edited by Firn; 03-14-2014 at 09:47 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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