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The Kremlin flirts with the West to save oligarchs money

Why do the Russian authorities invest hard in the US economy, crushing the ruble?

In September, Russia again – now by $ 322 million – increased investment in US government bonds. This is evident from the new report of the US Treasury on the countries-holders of US government debt. In August, the Russian Federation had US Treasuries in the amount of $ 14.097 billion, a month later – already in the amount of $ 14.419 billion.

That is, we did not have time to rejoice that the Kremlin is actively taking money from American government securities, as he again stepped on the old rake. And these rakes are very familiar to it.

Recall that the peak of Russian investments in US Treasuries was recorded in February 2013 – $ 164.3 billion. In 2014, in the wake of the geopolitical difficulties that arose, the first stage of the accelerated withdrawal of reserves from US government bonds started. The previous minimum of $ 66.5 billion was in April 2015.

Then there were the very same rake: a gradual restoration of the volume of investments began. Note that the US government bonds are the most liquid and reliable debt securities in the world. Apparently, the economic bloc of our government found it inappropriate to sell US Treasuries against the backdrop of a stronger dollar and a weaker currency in the commodity and developing markets. As a result, Russia for the last three years has confidently held in the top twenty of the largest holders of UST.

Bloomberg has estimated damage to the Russian economy since 2013.

At the beginning of 2018, the volume of Russian investments amounted to $ 102.2 billion, as of April 1 – $ 96.1 billion. Then there was a new turn in our uneasy relations with the US government debt.

In April, the United States imposed tough anti-Russian sanctions because of the Skripale case, and collapsed the ruble. Against the background of such unfriendly actions, the withdrawal of reserves of the Russian Federation from US bonds was resumed. In the same April, these reserves dropped by half at once – from $ 96.1 billion to $ 48.7 billion. In May – another three times – to $ 14.9 billion. As a result, Russia dropped out of the list of the 32 largest holders of American public debt. , which the US Treasury ranks by volume of investments.

At about the same time, it became known that the share of gold in the reserves of the Central Bank was growing at a record pace. And this process has not weakened. In the nine months since the beginning of 2018, the Bank of Russia purchased almost 200 tons of gold for foreign exchange reserves. In September alone, its reserves increased by 37.3 tons and exceeded 2,037 tons.

Against the background of such news, hope has dawned that we will completely get rid of US government securities, and finally stop financing the US economy. But, as we see, life avoids simple triumphal finals.

Yes, now we are buying not US long-term treasury bonds – the so-called bonds, with a maturity of more than a year – but short-term bills. If in August Russia held $ 3.4 billion in bonds, then in September – $ 2.9 billion. Investments in bills in August amounted to $ 10.7 billion, in September – $ 11.5 billion.

Thus, for the first time in Moscow, at least since 2011, there have been more short papers than long ones. Apparently, from the point of view of our liberal-economic authorities, this is what the golden mean looks like.

But questions still remain. By selling US bonds, and then buying them again, we act according to the situation, or are we pursuing some hidden goals? Why are we still playing with the US in a game in which we are clearly assigned the role of the slave?

  • Since 2014, Russia’s investments in US Treasuries have decreased by about $ 150 billion, but in the total amount of American public debt this is not a serious loss, – notes Andrei Bunich, president of the Union of Russian Entrepreneurs and Tenants.

– Something imperceptibly, so that it pushed the American economy to a crisis. In addition, there is a suspicion that Russia did not sell American bonds, but partially hid it.

Let me remind you, the experts of the influential American Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) claim that Moscow did not sell 84% of US treasury securities, but only 45%, hiding the rest of the bonds in offshore areas in Belgium and the Cayman Islands.

This seems to be true, since the money from the allegedly sold American government securities did not come to the economy of the Russian Federation.

– Why is Russia so stubbornly holding in the American papers gold and foreign exchange reserves?

– These papers are, I believe, an informal insurance fund for Russian state structures and oligarchic corporations. Thus, they confirm their creditworthiness in order to operate in the world market.

In my opinion, the idea that our money is simply stored in the West in US Treasuries is fundamentally wrong. Under this money private and state Russian structures are credited. And if the volume of our reserves in US securities decreases, so will loans.

By the way, this is exactly what is happening now. Recently, the total external debt significantly decreased. At the peak – a few years ago – it was $ 730 billion, and now, according to the latest data, only $ 460 billion. Thus, Russia has paid $ 270 billion – and at first glance it is not clear why. Before the difference between external debt The Russian Federation and its foreign exchange reserves reached $ 250 billion, and now it has almost disappeared – there are as many reserves as we have reserves, and so much debt. In my opinion, this situation benefits only the West. It turns out that if the US started imposing tough economic measures against Russia several years ago, say, they would block payments in dollars, it would immediately have caused the West losses for $ 250 billion. Western financial institutions would not have received back the money that Russian corporations collected in type of loans. And this, I believe, restrained Washington from abrupt steps. And now we have all that we can repaid, plus we have compensated for external debt with an increase in reserves. And now the United States can impose all sorts of sanctions on us completely painlessly.

  • What should we do?

– We could not return the debt, but take the borrowing under control. Create for this a special debt agency. Then in an extreme situation it would be possible to allow partial defaults on these loans. In a word, it would be more profitable if we were to owe the US – especially in the current state of conflict. But now we don’t owe anything, we’ve paid everyone. And no preferences are foreseen from this. “Joint venture”.

– Why did we go to pay off debts?

– Apparently, this is a consequence of Russia’s dependence on the West. We behave like a colonial country – we have an offshore economy, and our foreign economic policy is dictated by the interests of large private financial institutions. I think that the West has not yet taken away the funds from these structures, but they can already move only within the western financial system. It is clear why our corporations are allowed to keep foreign currency earnings on foreign accounts. It is clear why the Russian combo strenuously pays for foreign debts. Because if you do not do this, it will affect private Russian capital in the West, or the money of corporations, or their commercial activity. My version is that the money of Russian structures in the West today can only be transferred from one Western account to another, and from one Western structure to another one. This mode can be controlled through the IMF or the Bank for International Settlements – but the balance of these operations in any case cannot be in favor of Russia. Such a hypothesis makes it possible to fully explain what is happening in recent years in Russia with foreign exchange reserves, external debt, the so-called “deoffshorization” and blatant liberalization of currency legislation. It is just that our oligarchic structures and state corporations need to conduct their activities in the West, in a hidden form they are already under control, they can be removed from Western property and accounts. And so now all of Russia is working to ensure that these capitals feel well abroad. From here the budget rule, the life of the country at the rate of $ 40 per barrel, the pension reform – to free up a maximum of money and ensure the free withdrawal of capital from the Russian Federation. So that God forbid nothing happened to the money of oligarchs and state corporations in the West. Ultimately, this is why the war with the West, which the Kremlin seems to be fighting, does not look very convincing and real. In fact, the actions of the Russian authorities maintain the existing system of relations between the Russian Federation and the West, and even strengthen it. Already in January of the new year we are waiting for a new wave of record price increases— We did get out of the US debt, and this is a huge plus, – says Alexander Shatilov, dean of the faculty of sociology and political science at a financial university under the Russian government.

– Thus, we were insured in case of a total and hard aggravation of relations with the United States. On the other hand, now there is no such aggravation, but there is a cold war. Therefore, I think, financial games related to short-term investments in securities of the first economy of the world are quite permissible. It is possible that there is a speculative moment: the Russian elite first played at the exit from the US securities, and then bought a little. that the Russian elite is currently very split. It has circles that are ready to keep the defense to the bitter end. And there are those who want to buy – in one way or another – the forgiveness of Washington-Brussels-London, and try not to completely break off contacts with the powerful in the West. Given that in the Russian financial and economic structures such Westerners are more than enough, the games with the US government debt will continue for a very long time.

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