In 1998, the gross domestic product wasRbl. 2,684.5 billion; it decreased by 4.6% compared with the relevant level ofthe preceding year. While in the first quarter of year the situation was stableenough, the April began the deepening of the GDP production decrease. Up to thethird quarter of 1998, the low inflation rate remained. The limited effectivedemand required from the producers a moderate pricing policy and thisattenuated the rates of production decrease in the industries of the realsector. During January trough July 1998, the consumer prices grew by 8.1% whilethe producers' prices reduced by 1.5% at the US Dollar exchange rate havinggrown, in January through July, by 4.7%.
The new wave of the world financial crisisaggravated the situation in the Russian economy. The significant change of thesituation of the monetary and stock markets of Russia resulted, in the end, inthe collapse of the banking sector. The Ruble was devaluated and, from August1998, the Russian economy has been functioning in the conditions of permanentgrowth of prices. In August through December 1998, the consumer prices grew1.7‑fold, theproducers' prices grew 1.25‑fold, and the US Dollar exchange rate grew 2.6‑fold.
In the structure of the produced GDP, thespecific share of almost all the commodities manufacturing industries reduced.The growth of the services production notwithstanding the reduction of thedemand for this sphere of activities reflected, first of all, the decline ofthe business activities in the other fields. For the other hand, the growth ofthe services share was conditioned by the positive structural shifts in thissector of economy. In particular, the shares of the communication, trade, realestate, money, insurance, and other services of the market character grewup.
Structure of production of GDP (% ofbalance)
Source: Russian State Committee forstatistics (Goskomstat).
The commercial freight turnover in thetransport field reduced by 3.5% compared with 1997, including the 7.3% for therail transport (the latter supports over one third of the cargo transport andfreight turnover of Russia). In 1998, the rhythm of the rail transportoperation was sharply broken. The growing social tension resulted in morestrikes and periodical blockades of the railroads having paralyzed theoperation of whole regions and industries. The volumes of transportation andloading reduced for practically all the kinds of industrial products andmaterial and technical resources. Thus, in the rail transport, the volumes ofloading reduced, in 1998, by 5.8%. It should be noted that the export-orientedproductions tried to stabilize their positions due to the growth of the exportof their products.
In the second half of 1998, the volumes oftransport of the imported cargoes decayed sharply; the collapse of the freightturnover by the automobile and sea transport was observed. In 1998, thecommercial turnovers reduced by 26% for the automobile transport and by 30% forthe sea transport.
In the sea transport fleet, the situationwas aggravated by the technical state of the vessels. In 1998, the number ofunits of the transport fleet reduced by 22% due both to their purring out ofoperation resulting from the wear and tear and from the transfer of the otherpart for repair to the other companies to the subsidiaries registered outsideRussia to obtain the credits. Besides, the reduction of the profitability ofthe vessels use in the Russian market and the growth of the operating expensesresulted in the sale of some of the vessels.
To the end of 1998, the remainder of theexport cargoes in the main Russian seaports intended for the marine transportgrew by 2.7% compared with December 1997. The hard currency income of theRussian shipping companies from the external market activities and from theexport-import transport reduced in 1998 by 16.6% compared with1997.
The communications remain the mostdynamically developing sector of the Russian economy. In 1995, the averagenumber of employed in this sector was 0.6% of the total employed in theeconomy; in 1998, the share of the employed in the communications exceeded1.5%.
The stable growth of the share of thecommunications in the GDP has been observed during the last five years. In1998, the volume of the communications services grew by 1.6%; as of today, itwas Rbl. 64.4 billion in the current prices. The implementation of thestate-of-the-art equipment has been changing the structure of the services: theshares of the telepnony, radio, TV, and satellite communications have beengrowing while the shares of the mail and wire broadcasting have beendeclining.
In 1998, the volume of retail tradedecreased by 4.5% compared with 1997. After the rush of the consumer demand inAugust 1998, the following growth of prices and reduction of the money incomesof the population, the conditions of the trade functioning worsenedsignificantly. In January to November 1998, almost a half of the tradeenterprises suffered losses; the number of shops was declining; in thestructure of the retail trade the role of the unorganized turnover grew. In thefourth quarter of 1998, the retail commodities turnover was 85.6% of the sameperiod of 1997. In the fourth quarter of 1998, the share of the import in thevolume of commodities resources dropped down to 37% against the 48% in thefirst half of the year. The saturation of the retail market was supported bythe domestic products and stocks of trade that, as of 1 January 1999, were by34.7% lesser than as of 1 January 1998.
It should be emphasized that the growth ofthe share of the services in the GDP structure was due, first of all, to thechange of the volume and structure of the paid services to the population.While the year 1997 had been characterized — for the first time during theyears of the reforms — by the growth of the volume of the paid services to thepopulation (by 3.3%), in 1998, the reduction by 2.4% took place. During thefirst half of 1998, the dynamic of the paid services to the population wasforming under the effects of such factors as the irregular payments of thelabor remuneration and pensions to the population. The August financial crisisadded to this the factor of the reduced solvent demand of the population forthe services. In this situation, the dynamic of the prices and tariffs on thepaid services remained within the limits of the average monthly rates ofinflation of the January through July period. This was restraining thereduction of the demand. However, the main thing was that the features of theirspecific forms also determined the dynamic of the volumes of the paid servicesto the population.
During the last two years, the structure ofthe paid services to the population has acquired a stable enough character. Bymore than a half, it is formed by the mandatory payments for the communalservices, services of transport and communications. Almost 20% of the volume ofthe paid services to the population fall on the repair of the living premises,home appliances, servicing and maintenance of automobiles, medical services,and educational services. This very underdeveloped structure of the demand ofthe population for the paid services was holding back the reduction of theirvolume in the fourth quarter of 1998.
The dynamic of the production of the goodswas determined by the processes of the gradual deepening of the crisis in allthe sectors. After a certain enlivening of the activities in the industry in1997, both the extracting and manufacturing industries saw the depressiontrends again. In whole, in 1998, the recession of the industrial production wasby 5.2%; it was observed in all the branches of industry.
Dynamic of physical volume of the industrialproduction in 1991-1998, 5 of the preceding year
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