Russia Gets Crushed Again

by: Calafia Beach Pundit

Between Eurozone sanctions and the collapse of the ruble and the price of oil, the Russian economy has suffered enormously. But it's premature to count them out - they've suffered through worse and survived. For those who haven't been paying too much attention, here are some revealing charts:

The chart above shows the value of the ruble vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar. Since 1997, the ruble has lost 91% of its value. The most recent collapse is less than half as bad - so far - as the collapse that began in 1998 when Russia defaulted on its foreign debt.

The chart above shows an index of the value in dollars of the Russian stock market. Today it is worth about as much as at the end of 2008, during the depths of the global financial crisis. Since the pre-crisis days of 2008, the value of Russian equities, as measured in dollars, has fallen by 75%. Since last June, when oil prices started to collapse, the dollar value of Russian equities has fallen by about 55%.

The chart above shows the price of Arab Light Crude in rubles. At the end of the day, the devaluation of the ruble has just about completely offset the decline in crude prices; exporters of Russian crude today receive about the same amount of rubles per barrel as they have for the past three years. But that's only half the story: since 2010, Russian consumers today are paying over twice as much (in rubles) for imported goods and services. Eventually, that will result in a huge increase in Russia's inflation rate, which was just under 8% last June. The Russian economy is almost certainly in the midst of a recession, and on top of that inflation is going to be running in the very strong double-digits for the foreseeable future.

It reminds me a lot of what it's like to live in Argentina, and it's not pleasant. But it's not the end of the world, either.