Based on weekly data for the week of March 13, 2015, Russian Central Bank forex reserves fell to USD351.7 billion, down USD5 billion on previous week. The reserves are now down 28.7% (USD141.5 billion) y/y. Compared to the same week a month ago, the reserves are down 4.5% (USD16.6 billion).
The rate of weekly changes in reserves (USD5 billion) is slower than in the week of March 6th (USD6.3 billion) but well ahead the 3mo average weekly decline (USD4.61 billion) and 6mo average (USD3.57 billion).
Two charts to provide some historical comparatives in terms of period averages relative to both levels and rates of change.
It is worth noting that there have been virtually no Forex interventions (Ruble rate defence: here and here) from CBR in February and March and there have been ongoing de-dollarisation of the household funds in February that has likely continued in March (reducing forex deposits and cash holdings), which implies that declines in reserves are down to the following drivers:
- changes in euro and other currencies, as well as gold and non-dollar denominated assets, valuations for assets held by the CBR - in other words the potential adverse effects of dollar exchange rates against other currencies, and changes in asset values due to changes in US bonds markets;
- demand for Forex from corporates and banks (all of which would be in the form of loans from the CBR to these entities) all of which is associated with deleveraging the external debt; and
- potential fiscal demand for forex.