Vigilance still the watchword on rebounding economy

Upbeat forecasts say Russia's economy could grow 2.5% in 2010 - maybe even double that. This week the government shared its optimistic 2010 outlook and took a look back, at how Russia fared during the financial crisis.

9% unemployment, prices up more than 8%, GDP down 8.7%, A ballooning budget deficit – 8.3% of GDP. But we survived – said President Medvedev.

“We have paid a relatively low price for the international financial and economic crisis which occurred around the Planet.”

$30 billion – Russia's bill for anticrisis measures – mainly for banks short of capital. Even with government aid, banks cut back lending to businesses. Next year's stimulus will be about a quarter of this year's level, with Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, noting growth has returned.

“We are currently in a growth trend, and there will be growth in the fourth quarter. That’s a fact! We will likely see GDP growing next year That is confirmed by international experts who give us better outlooks, than we do ourselves!! They forecast 3% and even 5% growth!"

But those upbeat forecasts depend on the oil price. The budget needs a minimum of $65 dollars per barrel. The decline in Russia's recent double-digit inflation – seen at no more than 7,5% next year – is sadly just a result of a weak economy. And Alexei Kudrin says caution is still the watchword.

“Poor balance sheets, unsettled real estate prices, a squeeze on lending and the need to withdraw stimulus. All these risks are still in place. This all means that we need to be cautious next year, and extremely vigilant."