Retail volume of the non-food goods sales proceeded to develop more dynamically than that of foodstuffs and was supported by the prices growth. Since the beginning of the year the prices for nonfood goods have increased by 7.8% as compared with 5.8% in the corresponding period of the previous year, while prices for foodstuffs went up by 15.3%, which is by 1.6 per cent more than the figure of January-November 2007. It should be noted that in November the total scale of the retail trade turnover reducing the volume of foodstuffs sales decreased by 2.3%, whereas the drop in the retail turnover of non-food goods reached 4.3%. The ratio of the growth rates of these indices illustrate, on the one hand, the contraction of the solvent demand of the population, and, on the other hand, reflects the formation of the pent-up demand for foodstuffs as a result of the supply decrease.
The level and share of the employees’ labor remuneration had a prevailing impact on the social parameters as well as the labor market. The deceleration of the industrial growth rates determined the trend for the reduction in the number of the industrial and production staff. According to the estima tion by the Federal State Statistics Service the number of the economically active population by the end of October of the current year was 76.2 mln of people or 53% of the total number of the population. Starting with July 2008 the trend for the monthly increase in the unemployment has been observed. The total number of the unemployed in November 2008 was 5.0 mln of people and increased by 17.8% or by 754 thousand of people as compared with the corresponding period of 2007. By the end of the year the number of the citizens registered at the state employment agencies is expected to grow, which is a negative effect of the financial crisis.
Business Survey in December S. Tsukhlo In December the escalation of the crisis in the Russian industry slowed down a bit. The sustention of the previous intensity of demand reduction enabled enterprises stabilizing output reduction rates. It seems that it is the producers’ prices that are becoming the main tool in competition for the customer – their decrease rates exceeding even the result of the beginning of 1998. However the satisfaction with the volumes of demand is decreasing and the stocks of finished goods are growing. Credits availability continues to reduce.
Federal State Statistics Service recognized the crisis In the middle of December Federal State Statistics Service reported the catastrophic drop of the output in the Russian industry in November. The crisis, having shaken the industry for several months, has finally been recognized officially. According to the data of the statistics service, the volume of the industrial production in November decreased by 8.7% as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year (against 0.6% in October). According to the preliminary estimation of the Centre for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting, November’s drop is equal to 10.7%. The Centre for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting emphasizes that the recession in November was of frontal nature, that is the sharp decrease in the production volumes is observed in nearly all kinds of processing industries. It is the sectors, orientated for investment demand, and the sectors, suffering most acutely from the foreign economic situation, where the most dramatic drop in production has been observed.
Crisis decelerates in December In December intensity of demand reduction did not change as compared with November. After November fall down to -59 balance points, which was preceded by -30 points in October, December decrease down to the level of -60 points appears to be slight. This is testified by the exclusion of seasonality: in December the balance of changes in solvent demand cleared from seasonal and calendar factors remained at the previous level of -51 points. Still the absolute levels of December look grave.
The initial figure of -60 points reproduce the absolute record figures of all the sixteen-year period of demand dynamics monitoring: only once in remote 1994 the demand was decreasing so sharply. Considering the result cleared from the seasonality the result yields only to some months of 1996 and 1994. Even in 1998 the demand decreased at lower rates than now, at the end of 2008. And it would be good news if it was the bottom of the nowadays crisis, but, taking into account the macroeconomic situation, the end of the crisis in the near future seems unlikely.
Stabilization of the demand reduction rates enabled enterprises stabilizing the output reduction rates as well. In December this index remained practically unchanged. Cleared from seasonality balance by the end of the year makes -41 points, whereas in the summer its value was +8 and in spring - +points. Worse figures (i.e. the most intensive reduction of the production) were registered only in the first half of 1994. As a result (in the second month of the officially recognized crisis) the output is decreasing throughout all the industries. And it is in the light industry, machine-building and wood and timber industry where it is decreasing most sharply.
It seems that the enterprises’ price policy has already had an effect on the stabilization of the demand reduction rates. At the end of 2008 the surveys registered unexampled drop in the producers’ selling prices. The balance of this index has lowered down to -26 points after -15 in November and -in October. Such high rates of real prices decrease were not observed even in the first half of 1998. In December despite the unquenchable inflation and traditional New Year’s growth of tariffs the decrease in prices occurred in all branches of industry, which is due to the general demand contraction. It was less characteristic for light, foodstuffs and machine-building industries, which started correction their price policy only in December and just slightly.
Real demand dynamics has also influenced the sales forecast, their pessimistic nature stopped increasing. Exclusion of seasonality has demonstrated even a slight decrease in the expected rates of sales decrease, i.e. December forecasts suppose less intensive decrease in demand than the expectations characteristic for the industry in November. However absolute levels of demand forecasts (as well as its real dynamics) were absolute minima or near them. Initial (seasonality not excluded) balance of forecasts exceeded the previous record (September 1998) by 10 points at once. Exclusion of seasonality has placed the current figures for sales forecasts to the second place (that is September 1998 was still more pessimistic). But exclusion of occasional fluctuations as well made the December 2008 forecasts absolute leaders with the gap before September 1998 by 10 points. Decrease in sales is expected in all the branches and especially in chemistry, petrochemistry and machine-building.
Enterprises’ production plans in December have also stabilized, i.e. there was no further worsening of output plans as compared with November. Decrease in production is planned in all branches of industry, excluding the foodstuffs. The most pessimistic plans are registered in chemistry, petrochemistry, wood and timber industry and construction industry.
The price will remain the main argument in Russian enterprises struggle for the customers. December plans of prices reduction keep the absolute record of all 199 surveys: never before has there been such a massive supposed decrease in prices ion the industry. The record of the unforgettable 1998 has been exceeded by 2-3 times throughout the branch on the whole. The light and foodstuffs industries however are not ready to decrease the prices yet, though they have made their plans in this field much more moderate.
Crisis expansion Stabilization of the intensity of the demand reduction did not put a stop to the decrease in the satisfaction with its volumes. In December only 21% of the enterprises could regard their sales volumes as normal. Only four months ago there were three times more of such estimations (63%). Now this figure is back at the level of spring 1999 when the industry was coming out of the crisis. On December the lowest satisfaction with the demand was registered in the construction materials production (4%, the minimum for the past 10 years), chemistry and petrochemistry (7%, the minimum of the past ten years as well), and wood processing complex (10%, twelve-year minimum). The maximum satisfaction with the demand was observed in the foodstuffs production and the non-ferrous metallurgy (42% each). But even in these branches the figure has decreased by 16 and 12 points, correspondingly.
The estimations of the finished goods stocks were above the traditional figure of the past few years in December – a filling of the warehouses with the extra stocks has started in the industry. In December the balance of the estimations has increased up to +29 points and turned out to be the maximum for the past thirteen years. The average value of the balance in 2007 was +5 points, in 2006 - + points. Now the biggest amount of extra stocks is registered in the metallurgy (+74%), construction industry (+61%) and wood processing industry (+36%). It should be noted that in the pre-crisis years the industry managed quite quickly with the extra stock, accumulating the experience and making fewer and fewer mistakes in this field.
The current situation in the real sector is aggravated by the continuing decrease in credits availability. In December the normal access for the borrowed funds decreased by 5 points more and makes only 18% in the Russian industry. This is the proportion of the enterprises that regard the crediting rate and other conditions as normal in the domestic banking system, which received enormous inflow of the state liquidity and which is reporting on the thorough support of the real sector in the President’s and Prime-Minister’s cabinets. It is certainly possible that without the government support for the banks and the pressure of the powers the credit availability would be even lower. Though even in 2000 (the beginning of this figure monitoring, when both the banks and the enterprises had just came through the aftermaths of 1998 crisis) the availability was two times higher (41%). The best situation with the credits is characteristic for the foodstuffs production, 31% of the enterprises being satisfied with their availability (the maximum figure for the branch being 90%).
Foreign Trade N. Volovik In October 2008 indices of the Russian foreign trade reacted to the worsening of the situation at the world goods markets. The change for the worse in the external conditions affects ever stronger export contracts. Sharp drop of the crediting activity, slow-down of real disposable incomes growth rates and the increase in the dollar exchange rates accounted for the reduction of the import supplies.
In October 2008 Russia’s foreign trade turnover calculated on the basis of the balance-of-payments methodology Внешнеторговый оборот made USD 65.9 bln, which exceeds the corresponding figure of the previous year by only 15.9%. It should be noted that the reduction in the foreign trade turnover on the previous month has been registered since August 2008. In October such a reduction was equal to 7.7%. This is mainly due to the decrease in the export value volume, which was by 11.2% smaller than in September 2008. Annual increase in export supplies made only 11.9%.
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the Russian Federation Fig. 1. Main Indices of Russian Foreign Trade (as USD bln) The drop of prices at the world fuel and raw materials market ever stronger affects the dynamics of the Russian export. In October 2008 there was a decrease in price observed practically for all kinds of fuel and raw material goods. The prices for oil, coal, non-ferrous metals, reinforcing steel and mineral fertilizers dropped again. Saw timber, natural caoutchouc, wool and cotton became much cheaper.
In October oil prices demonstrated the most dramatic drop since 1986, falling by 23.9% as compared to the previous month – from USD 104.7 per barrel to USD 79.6 per barrel (grade Brent). It was the growth of apprehension concerning the forthcoming slow-down of the world economy growth, problems with liquidity at the world financial markets and considerable appreciation of the dollar that contributed in the drop of prices. Dollar index reflecting the dynamics of the American currency against six main currencies of the worls went up by 8% in October.
Collapse of prices forced the OPEC to make a decision on the quotas reduction by 1.5 mln of barrels (decrease of the world supply by 1.7%) at the special meeting on 24 October 2008. This decision of the cartel supported the prices but little, they did not go up but stopped falling for some time.
On 17 December 2008 at the special summit of the OPEC in Algiers it was decided to decrease the oil production by 2.2 mln of barrels per day from 1 January 2009. The cartel also enlisted the support Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep of Russia and Azerbaijan that agreed to reduce oil production to increase prices at the market. However the decision on the record-breaking reduction of production by the OPEC countries did not affect the price of hydrocarbons at the world market to any extent. Moreover, on 19 December 2008 the prices for oil dropped even below the level of USD 35 per barrel that is psychologically important.
The decrease in world prices for the basic non-ferrous metals, excluding aluminum, was 20% in October 2008 as compared to the previous month. Nickel became cheaper by 31.8%, copper – by 29.5%, zinc – by 25%, tin – by 21.6%, lead – by 20.8%. Last month the price for aluminum dropped by 16% as compared with September.
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