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Feb 18, 2021
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The ruble could collapse to 100 against the dollar at any moment

The ruble could collapse to 100 against the dollar at any moment

Photo: Kirill Kukhmar / TASS

In the third quarter of this year, the ruble exchange rate against the dollar and the euro may fall significantly. The chief economist of Sberbank warned about this on February 16 Anton Struchenevsky

“We believe there is potential for ruble appreciation now, but we expect the weakest ruble in the third quarter. And one of the factors is the factor related to outbound tourism, ”the analyst said.

According to him, last year the collapse of the world tourism segment supported the ruble, since Russians stopped spending money abroad, but now, against the background of the development of vaccines against coronavirus and vaccination campaigns, borders between countries will open, which is quite risky for the stability of the domestic currency.

However, Struchenevsky named capital outflow from Russia as one of the main factors influencing the ruble exchange rate. According to Sber’s estimates, in 2020 it amounted to about $ 50 billion, and by 2021 the size of the “leak” may reach $ 34 billion.

In addition, in his opinion, the ruble exchange rate may be influenced by other factors: the dollar exchange rate against the currencies of emerging and developed markets, the price of Brent oil, the difference between inflation rates in Russia and the United States, and the actual change in the ratio of the dollar to the ruble from April 2, 2018.

“SP” asked the experts how correct in the description of the near-term prospects of the ruble against the dollar the emphasis was placed by the representative of “Sberbank” and why the third quarter, in his opinion, should become “black” for our payment unit.

– Indeed, the Russians have a deferred demand for foreign trips, – admitted Ivan Rodionov, Professor of the Department of Economics and Finance of a Firm, National Research University Higher School of Economics, expert on budget and investment… – But it is not at all a fact that it is being implemented, because Europe is not yet ready for this. But even if she begins to prepare, such actions always take a lot of time. So I guess this season will still be lost for Russians in terms of international tourism.

This is the first, and the second – our Ministry of Finance recently announced that it would buy less rubles and not sell dollars. Third, in the summer of 2020, the head of Sberbank German Gref, relying on the opinion of his analysts, publicly promised us that by the end of the year the dollar rate will be 70 rubles per unit. But, as they say, it did not grow together.

“SP”: – And what conclusion follows from all this?

– Such that this is – a typical duty reply, to be honest. Analysts generally have a very difficult fate, because they look at the reality of five dozen banks, and everyone needs to write something original about what they see in order to distinguish themselves from others. Therefore, I believe that Sberbank’s forecast is absolutely from the same series. Because in fact, you can still name a bunch of factors like increased solar activity or a rainy summer, but the result will still be the same – the opinion that the ruble will fall in the third quarter of 2021 means absolutely nothing.

“SP”: – Why?

– Because whoever says anything, our ruble exchange rate is absolutely not floating, not commercial. It is completely and completely determined by the state in cooperation with the monetary authorities in such a way that the margins of our main export commodities remain high. And no one is interested in the incomes of the population and the salaries of state employees, the main thing is that the exporting companies controlled by the state receive their super profits.

Remember, a couple of years ago, the current first deputy chairman of our government Andrey Belousov offered to take a kind of “quitrent” from non-state exporters, who managed to significantly increase their efficiency and reduce salary costs under the depreciation of the ruble. Then he did not succeed, but now the same Potanin, for example, fell under a distribution with an “environmental fine” invented for him in the amount of 146 billion rubles.

I am leading to the fact that all these things are completely and completely manipulated, and it makes no sense to talk about what will happen to the ruble in the third quarter of 2021. After all, no one is able to predict what our “wise men” in power, who for decades have been confirming the “efficiency” of their work through the complete collapse of the domestic economy, will come up with.

SP: – That is, the only factor that has a real impact on the ruble exchange rate is the authoritarian decisions of the authorities?

– I would probably not call it “solutions”. Decisions are something sensible and rational, not spontaneous sobs and splashes. In my opinion, there are only two main factors in power. First, the need to improve the efficiency of exports, which are either regulated by the state or benefit it through taxes. Secondly, the indifferent attitude towards the population, from which you can collect little, and if its incomes increase, then social spending will have to be increased. These are the factors that indicate that there can be anything.

Remember, in 2020, the ruble fell against the dollar by 20% at once. But someone got the same 20%, and we even guess who. It is clear, however, that against the background of the strengthening of the vertical of power, the state cannot do without the state in such matters.

There are, of course, sporadic successes among a number of currency speculators fed by the authorities. Please note that our exchange rate has been jumping by 5-6% in a sawtooth fashion for the last six months. But these are all trifles, the main profit is earned by the impoverishment of the population while maintaining the profitability of exports.

“SP”: – What about capital outflow? I remember from the pages of “SP” the chief analyst of the bank “Solidarity” Alexander Abramov repeatedly statedthat in the event of a massive exodus of non-residents, we will go for the scenario of a major crisis, when the ruble exchange rate runs the risk of going to the area of ​​peak values ​​of 100-110 units per dollar and even higher. True, he did not see the preconditions for the long-term preservation of this trend, noting that as soon as the money left, the ruble exchange rate would again be determined by macroeconomic indicators. But even in the case of a large emission of money to support banks and the economy, the ratio of the ruble to the dollar can still be quite high, in the region of 90: 1.

The analyst of Sberbank names quite serious figures of both what happened and the expected capital outflow. Will it be possible to return it later?

– You know, the question here is rather dark due to two circumstances. The first is fixed capital, either state or state-related. And for him the issue is resolved strategically – through bonds, free economic zones and so on. This makes it possible to provide profitability on it higher than abroad.

On the other hand, there is a relatively small in terms of the amount of funds available, but rather impressive in number, a group of people who do business under the conditions of state capitalism, believing in good things. Which, in my opinion, is absolutely unreasonable, because everything earned in one way or another will be taken away from them. So, these people have their own illusions, quite unjustified. It seems to them that if they take money abroad, they will be saved there.

But, remember, a couple of years ago, on the wave of history with Skripals The West has come up with a formula “highley like”, according to which nothing prevents it from saying that the money earned in Russia is a priori obtained by criminal means, and therefore should be arrested. Consequently, from this group of non-state capitalists, those who end up, for example, in prison, will most likely win in the end, then their children will have the opportunity to talk about “victims of the regime” and so on.

But the money that will still be exported abroad is likely to be lost. As at one time it happened with funds that belonged, in particular, Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi… The experience of the Bank of Belgium, where the latter’s money was miraculously “absorbed”, very well, 100%, confirms this trend.

So everything that will be taken out of the country, I believe, will disappear anyway. Except perhaps for state capital, which has a completely different attitude. It will disappear if the state itself collapses, but so far it is still treated with respect.

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