Russia warns its financial system is displaying indicators of overheating

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Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Vladimir Yakushev during a meeting in Moscow on February 10, 2020.

Aleksey Nikolskyi | Sputnik | Kremlin via Reuters

There are signs of overheating in the Russian economy, with annual inflation currently at 5.9%, the country’s finance minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday.

“If we continue with increased spending, what will we get? Overheating. Elements of overheating are already visible – high inflation, ”said Siluanov at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, according to a Reuters translation.

Consumer price inflation accelerated again in May, rising from 5.5% in April. Earlier this week, Russia’s central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina told CNBC that “inflation is accelerating” and that, unlike other countries, inflation was not seen as a temporary problem as economies reopened and consumer demand rose.

“In our case it’s different,” Nabiullina told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble earlier this week before SPIEF. “We think inflationary pressures in Russia are not temporary, not temporary. We are seeing more permanent factors, monetary factors, so we have started to push a rate hike back to a neutral stance.”

Investors will look to the next central bank meeting on June 11th to see what it does next. There is mounting speculation that the bank could raise rates by up to 50 basis points from the current 5%. The central bank’s inflation target is 4%.

Nabiullina said the central bank would analyze all factors, including the inflation forecast and economic climate, but said that “we see the risk that our inflation expectations will be raised and they will stay elevated for several months.”

On Wednesday, Russia’s central bank released a bulletin stating that the economy will continue to grow in the second quarter and that gross domestic product could reach pre-pandemic levels in mid-2021.

“Growth is still uneven”

However, analysts at the bank noted that “economic growth is still uneven. The export and wholesale industries as well as the service sector have recovered rapidly in recent months.”

The uncertainty about the medium and long-term consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is still high.

Sanctions

Russia’s economy has been under international sanctions since 2014 after the annexation of Crimea.

His role in a pro-Russian uprising in eastern Ukraine, the US election interference in 2016, neurotoxin poisoning in the UK and his role in the SolarWinds cyberattack have all resulted in further sanctions. Russia, for its part, denies any involvement or wrongdoing.

The Russian economy contracted about 3% in 2020 with the outbreak of the pandemic, marking its worst decline in 11 years. This was due to public health measures in response to the Covid crisis and a decline in energy demand (Russia is one of the largest oil exporters in the world).

Russia’s central bank now expects GDP growth to be between 3-4% for 2021, but Nabiullina said “a lot depends on the situation, of course … this recovery is uneven.”

The country’s central bank governor told CNBC that US sanctions are a “permanent risk” to the country. However, she also said Moscow’s reserves are “quite large to hold up to any financial or geopolitical scenario” and are likely to be more diverse than any other country’s reserves.

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