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Bloomberg: Russia will Bypass Saudi Arabia in Gold and Foreign Exchange Reserves
August 15, 2019 16:49

For the first time in eight years, Russia can enter the list of four countries with the largest foreign exchange reserves, Bloomberg predicts. This may become a “lever of pressure” on OPEC countries with which Russia is negotiating on reducing oil production.

For the first time in eight years, Russia may bypass Saudi Arabia in terms of gold and foreign exchange reserves and enter the top four countries in terms of this indicator, Bloomberg writes. According to the International Monetary Fund, China ranks first, Japan - second, and Switzerland  - third.

Bloomberg recalls that Russia's reserves grew by 45% in four years and reached $ 518 billion, while Saudi reserves fell to $ 527 billion. Due to low oil prices, Saudi Arabia spent resources on social security, Bloomberg notes. Russia at the same time maintains a budget surplus, fearing new sanctions.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin intends to minimize the risk of refinancing for Russia, and therefore supports responsible fiscal policy,” Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital Investment Company comments. “The Saudis, on the contrary, switched from a budget deficit to a surplus earlier. Now they are glad that in difficult conditions they can use these savings, ” he said.

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According to the budget rule, the Ministry of Finance is now buying foreign currency and forwarding it to the budget for all income from the sale of oil at a price of over $ 40 per barrel. In Saudi Arabia, such a mechanism works at an oil price about twice as high, Bloomberg notes. Therefore, at the current price of Brent oil futures, Russia, unlike Saudi Arabia, “is likely to be able to further increase its reserves for a rainy day,” the agency writes.

Prices and nerves 

A similar advantage over Saudi Arabia, the largest OPEC member in terms of oil production, could become a “lever of pressure” on the countries of the organization with which Russia is negotiating to reduce oil production, Bloomberg notes.

“OPEC can no longer ignore Russia because of the importance of its role as an exporter of oil and its economy as a whole,” Elina Rybakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, notes.

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian economy Russian business Russian companies   

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