Analyse van Ben Aris in Berlijn, gepubliceerd op 12 maart 2020
The oil price shock currently underway will be painful for the Russian economy, but the Kremlin has done its homework and is well prepared for the coming storm. The Russian Ministry of Energy predicts that oil prices will recover to $40-45 per barrel in the second half of 2020 and $45-50 per barrel in 2021, Deputy Minister Pavel Sorokin revealed in an interview with Reuters.
Accounts Chamber head Alexei Kudrin says with oil at $35 per barrel and the ruble averaging 72 to the dollar this year, the federal budget will lose approximately RUB3tn and run a deficit of just under 2% of GDP. The economy will experience nearly zero growth, not the 1.9% growth initially predicted by the economy ministry. If oil prices average $40 per barrel this year, the situation will be slightly better, Kudrin predicts, but GDP growth will still fall far short of initial expectations.
The key indicator is the non-oil deficit. Russia’s economy is still in transition and as it has failed to develop domestic institutional investors that provide a foundation of long-term money, its markets and economy remain very vulnerable to these shocks. But the non-oil deficit shows that each one of these shocks does less damage than the last one. Thanks to its huge reserves and the fact that corporate Russia has massively deleveraged since 2014, it is well placed to weather this shock with relatively little damage.