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Russia is the Oil Play on Stearoids

|Includes: VanEck Vectors Russia ETF (RSX)
Last January I was extremely positive about building long equity exposure in Russia, one of the two BRICKS that is a big energy exporter (click here for the call ). I predicted that the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEARCA:RSX) would deliver double the upside of the S&P 500 in the imminent bull market. Well I lied. It actually tripled, while the Dow eked out a measly 70%. It even would have worked as a market neutral pairs trade, long Russia, short the US. This was an oil play on steroids, and with crude then trading in the $30s, how hard of a call was that? A recovery in the ruble also gave you a nice hockey stick effect in the dollar traded ETF. The bounce in the Russian currency stopped the country’s reserve outflow dead in its tracks, and enabled the Russian Central Bank to start slashing interest rates from the nosebleed territory of 13%. There is plenty of room for further cuts. But Russia is not out of the woods yet. Some 30% of the $780 billion in corporate debt is due for rollover this year, and the unemployment rate is at 9.5% and climbing. It also doesn’t help that they lock up oligarchs on bogus tax charges, and will expropriate foreign assets at the drop of a hat, as they did from Shell and British Petroleum. But none of my investors told me I could only do business with nice people who gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. A rising oil price atone for all sins, as any Middle Eastern sheik can attest. You might want to take a shower after you write the trade ticket, buy hey; sometimes you just have to follow the money. Just watch out for the volatility.