Searching for signs of recovery
Russia's reserves – among the largest in the world – were designed as a lifeline to stave off a crisis, and so it has transpired. The government has spent around a third of them defending the rouble, averting a collapse of the currency like that of 1998.
But more importantly, going forward, Russia's reserves are likely to be a key factor in the nation's recovery from the crisis, according to Roger Munnings, Chairman and CEO of KPMG, Russia and the CIS.
“Russia is investing the reserves that it accumulated during times of high oil prices into fostering the regeneration of the economy and helping keep the social part of the economy – increasing health care and education. Doing all it wanted to do in the long term.”
Other BRIC nations -Brazil, India and China -are among the few still growing or showing the first signs of recovery. But although Russia's stock markets have rallied so far this year, statistics from the real sector of economy still look gloomy.
Meanwhile China remains the star performer. On the back of massive stimulus measures from the government, its economy is still forecast to grow at up to 8% this year, with its stock markets rebounding strongly. Uralsib Chief Economist, Vladimir Tikhomirov says Russia’s economy is still turning.
“We have seen a rally on global markets, and Russia and China, but on the other hand we have seen a continued flow of negative statistics from the real sector. We see signs that we might have reached the bottom, but we can also see problems emerging still.”
Those countries likely to emerge fastest from the downturn are those carrying the least debt. But weak demand from the worlds' biggest economies leaders like the U.S, Europe and Japan means that commodity producers like Russia will continue to find the going tough for some time yet.