Russia’s gold and currency reserves have shrunk by $10.2 billion in the first week of 2014 to $499.1 billion, according to a statement by the Central Bank.
It’s first time in two years that the figures drop below the 500 billion level.
The recent reduction is largely due to the weakening of the rouble against the dollar and the euro when the Central Bank has to intervene by injecting significant amounts of its reverses to keep the national currency within a certain range.
The current figures are well below the all-time high of almost $600 billion in 2008, just before the global financial meltdown. In late 2008, the Central Bank had to spend about $200 billion to keep the rouble afloat.
These expenses may be soon dwarfed by further injections amid impending stagnation. 2013 saw the worst year for the Russian economy, with the GDP dropping to as low as 1.4 percent. In June 2013, Alexey Ulyukayev replaced Andrey Belousov as Economic Development Minister, but has so far failed to kick-start the economy.
According to the IMF, Russia’s prospects “have been dampened by a weak external environment, some acceleration of capital outflows and declining equity prices and subdued investment”.
Author: Mikhail Vesely