The dynamics of real tax arrears to the federal budget is presented in Fig.1. Since 2001 the MTC has changed the form of presentation of the respective statistical data, and the arrears to the federal budget by all the taxes are not singled out any more.
The execution of consolidate budget between 1998 to 2001 is given in Table 3.
The increase in the federal budget expenditure, interest and non-interest ones, should be expected over this year. The increase in non- interest expenditure is determined by the need in carrying out the planned, though non- financed due to various reasons, budget expenditure. In connection with this, it is envisaged that the revenue part of the budget should be increased up to 20% of GDP.
In February 2001 the consumer price index grew by 2.3%. Similar to the situation in January, it was the prices for services that demonstrated highest rates (by 4.3%). At the same time, prices for food stuffs rose by 2.3%, and those for non-food goods – by 1.3%.
In the second half February and in March 2001, the consumer prices growth rates fell considerably (see Fig. 1). Should the tendency observed in the first three weeks of month sustain, the CPI should make 1.8–1.9% a month. Thus, in the first quarter of 2001 the inflation rate amounted to 7–7.2% (i.e. about 30% in annual terms). For reference: in the first quarter of 2000 consumer prices grew only by 4%. Nonetheless we expect a further decline in monthly CPI growth rates during next months, which could be attributed to weaker seasonal factors and some tightening of monetary policy: it is evident that in 2001 the inflation will exceed the level of 12–14% projected by the Russian Government and the Central Bank. For example, with the average price rise monthly rate around one percent per month during next three quarter of the year (it is a. one and a half time less compared with the average inflation rate in 2000), in 2001 the CPI should grow by at least 16-17%.
In March 2001 the CBR experienced the renewal of the growth in its foreign reserves (see Fig. 2). By March 23, their volume exceeded $30 billion. The money supply also grew. For the first three weeks of March the increment in narrow monetary base made up about 2.5%. However, we saw a contraction since the beginning of the year. The narrow monetary base has shrunk approximately by 3% compared to the 1st of January, 2001.
In February 2001, the Bank of Russia published data on main monetary aggregates as of the end of 2000. Thus, in 2000 the monetary aggregate M1 grew by 66.9% (by 38.9% in real terms). The monetary aggregate M2 grew by 62.4% (35.1% in real terms). The broad money rose by 58.4% (by 31.8% in real terms). Hence, considering a gap between the GDP deflator and the consumer price index, in late 2000 the GDP monetization ratio (M2 to GDP) reached 16.47%. This is the highest level since the beginning of the price liberalisation.
As Fig. 3 shows, in 2000 the increase in demand for money was induced by accumulation of balances on firms’ ruble accounts. By early 2001 their volume was, in real terms, about 142% at to the level of December 1997. When compared with their minimum level (November 1998), they grew over two times In contrast to that, the real volume of private deposits in commercial banks is still far below the pre-crisis level. Thus, in December 2000 balances on rubles accounts of the population amounted to slightly over 71% compared with the level of December 1997 and about 62% -to the maximum level (July 1998). By the end of 2000 the real monetary aggregate M2 reached the level of 101% of the one be noted in December 19972.
The government securities market
In March 2001, quotations of the Russian currency-denominated bonds demonstrated different trends (see Figs. 1 and 2). The shortest securities (e.g., eurobonds-2001, the 4th issues of Minfin bonds) appreciated, their yields fell below 8% annualised (on eurobonds) and to 25% annualised – on Minfin bonds. Quotations of the 5th and 7th issues of Minfin bonds remained rather stable. At the same time, prices for other eurobonds issues and the 6th issue of Minfin bonds declined at 2–4 percentage points. Yields on the Russian securities are within the range of 12 to 19% annualised.
Taking into account an unfavourable situation in the market (currency crisis in Turkey, currencies falling against the US dollar in a number of developing and developed economies, darkening economic situation in Argentina, decline in oil prices), one should note that the Russian securities are still very attractive to participants in the international financial market. The similar external shocks in 1999 and 2000 induced much higher volatility of quotations and the rise in interest spread between yields on the Russian bonds and basic interest rates. Notably, the Russian domestic financial market appeared to be more susceptible to external shocks, and its state in March 2001 was rather vulnerable (see below).
There were actually no significant events in the market for the Russian domestic debt in March 2001. The average-weighted GKO/OFZ yield is still at the level of about 20% annualised, the market liquidity is very low – the monthly turnover equals about 10–12 billion rubles ($350–400 million). The volume is comparative with a weekly turnover of the foreign exchange market.
In March 2001, the Russian stocks market demonstrated quite a low level of volatility. Despite a negative influence of drop in prices at most of developed and emerging markets (see Tab.1), the RTS Index did not drop last month. Moreover, in March the Index grew from 164.76 to 169.46 points, i.e. by 2.85%. Thus, for the first three months of 2001 the RTS Index grew by 18.3% (see Fig.3).
The two possible hypotheses for the steadiness in the Russian stock prices during the first Quarter of 2001 are as follows: firstly, the Russian Government and the Paris Club of Creditors have finally agreed on the schedule of repayment by the Russia’s external debts in 2001 (that decreased the reputation risk). Secondly, in the conditions of slowdown of the growth rate in both developed countries and developing economies, rather a stable situation in the Russian economy is a positive factor. Between 2000 to 2001 the Russian stock market has not reached the pre-crisis price level of 1997. s,. Hence, considering its quantitative parameters, the stock market is still undervalued. The absence of any bubble effects and the decrease in the level of risks to which investors are exposed at the Russian stock market were the causes for the current stability in stock prices.
Nonetheless, the latter does not seem as a long-term or medium-term phenomenon. Let us examine the situation from the perspective of stocks supply : it is necessary to note that investors that have acquired large Russian stocks portfolios apparently do not find it expedient to sell those at present prices. Naturally, should the situation darken on the international markets, the most conservative investors would sell their acquisitions at the Russian market in order to invest in less risky foreign financial instruments. Considering the situation from the demand- for –stocks angle, we have to acknowledge the fact that the inflow in the Russian stock market is unlikely in 2001, and this is based on three main assumptions. Firstly, an extremely low capitalization and liquidity level of the Russian financial markets does not allow serious international investors to consider them safe, especially in the conditions of the downfall in prices at the world stock markets. Secondly, according to preliminary estimations, between late 2000 to early 2001 the economic growth rate in Russia has dropped slightly.. Thirdly, the institutional schemes and the respective legislation aimed at protection of investors’(including foreign ones) interests are still ineffective in Russia.
In March 2001, the total turnover in the RTS made up about $363.5 mln. That is at 13.6% inferior to the respective index registered in February ($420.5 mln.) and at 7.1% superior to the January rate ($339.5 mln.). In March, the share of common stocks of RAO ‘UES Russia’ in the total trade volume in the RTS was 37.5% (36.8% in February), the share of ‘YUKOS’ stocks – 10.7% (12.3%), ‘Surgutneftegaz’ – 10.1% (9.7%), ‘LUKoil’ – 9.1% (13.0%), ‘Norilsky Nickel’ – 8.6% (3.6%). Thus, in March the total share of the five most liquid stocks in the RTS was 75.8% (in February – 78.4%).
In March 2001, changes in stock prices for the Russian blue chips were notably different (see Fig.4). During the last month, it was common stocks of ‘Norilsky Nickel’ (+39.1%), ‘Sberbank of Russia’ (+35.7%) and RAO ‘UES Russia’ (+6.4%) the quotations of which grew most significantly. Among blue chips, it was common stocks of ‘Tatneft’ (–18.5%) and ‘Rostelecom’ (–7.5%) that experienced the most appreciable drop.
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