A considerable positive balance of currentoperations ensured a stable growth of the gold and foreign currency reserves ofthe Bank of Russia in the past year (Figure 3). At the end of May 2001 by thevolume of its gold and foreign currency reserves Russia entered the top-twentycountries of the world. The temporal reduction of the gold and foreign currencyreserves was connected mainly with the fact that the Bank of Russia soldforeign currency to the Ministry of Finance of Russia to make payments toservice foreign debts. For example, in the second part of August there wasregistered a reduction of gold and foreign currency reserves by 600 milliondollar connected with sale of foreign currency to the Ministry of Finance tomake payments to service foreign loans of the Russian Federation. In particularin August 2001 there were made payments for a total sum of 1.3 billion USdollars.
Year 2001witnessed very important events in foreign currency administration and foreigncurrency control. In particular, as we have already said, in September thelowered norms for obligatory sale of foreign currency revenues of exportingcompanies from 75% to 50% entered into force. Moreover, private persons who areRussian residents got their right to make portfolio investments abroad (for sumof up to 75000 US dollars), there was also introduced a new order of informingthe Ministry of Taxes and Duties about private accounts opening in foreignbanks. These measures are within the framework of the process of liberalizationof foreign currency administration and foreign currency control.
It shall be noted that the lower norms forobligatory sale of foreign currency revenues did not have any detrimentaleffect upon the dynamics of gold and foreign currency reserves. In particular,the third week in September witnessed an increase of the reserves by 700million dollars. Though the increase of gold and foreign currency reserves ofthe Bank of Russia in three weeks in October was noticeably smaller (about 300million US dollars), which is explained by temporary external factors: afterthe acts terrorism in the USA and failures in the world financial system theCentral Bank of the Russian Federation was forced to use up a total of 500million dollars to support liquidity on the market.
Considerable changes in the diagram of thegold and foreign currency reserves of the Bank of Russia happened only in thesecond part of October and in November 2001. The gold and foreign currencyreserves peaked at the end of October (38.8 billion US dollars) and stoppedgrowing. The situation change in that period was explained by a coincidence ofseveral important factors, sometimes interrelated: lower supply and higherdemand for foreign currency on the market and considerable payments to serviceforeign debts. In particular, in November the Ministry of Finance of theRussian Federation paid out 1.1 billion dollars including retirement of thefirst tranche of Russian European bonds for a total sum of one billion dollarsand 46.25 million dollars of coupon payments on them.
Fall in oil prices both decreased thecountries’ exportrevenues (foreign currencysupply) and provoked an increase of depreciation expectations and higherforeign currency demand on the part of economic agents. Thus in November 2001the Bank of Russia in spite of the fact that the dollar exchange rate grew morerapidly used up accordingto our estimates up to 500 million dollars to stabilize the market. Nevertheless, goldand foreign currency reserves accumulated by the end of the year (36.6 billiondollars) were enough to keep the foreign currency market stabilized and to ensure a monetary base.Gold’s share in thetotal gold and foreign currency reserves by the 1st of January 2002 wasapproximately 11%.
Tendencyof the real rouble exchange rate growth was preserved in 2001 (Figure 4). Inthe first four month the real rouble to US dollar exchange rate (calculated onthe basis of data about the nominal rouble to US dollar exchange rate andconsumer price indices in Russia and in the USA) grew by 5.4%, while the realrouble to the German mark exchange rate grew by 10,2%1.
A quicker inflation in Russia in spring 2001caused changes of trends in the real rouble exchange rates dynamics to the mostimportant world currencies. The real rouble to US dollar exchange rate of thepost-crisis period peaked in June 2001 and went down slightly later. By the endof October the real rouble to US dollar exchange rate equalled 116.0% comparedto September 1998. Consequently in ten months of the past year rouble rose inits price by 6.64%.
In the middle of 2001 the real rouble to theGerman mark exchange rate underwent serious fluctuations connected withfluctuations of the nominal rate of exchange of the European currency to USdollar and, hence, to rouble. The overall trend of changes in the real roubleto the German mark exchange rate though corresponds to the dynamics of the realrouble to US dollar exchange rate: after peaking in June (167.3% compared toSeptember 1998) rouble cheapened in the following months; in November the realrouble/mark exchange rate equalled to 159.1%. In eleven months of 2001 roublegrew compared to European currencies by 12.67%.
The real effective rouble exchange rate curve(calculated considering the export pattern) was in fact moving between therouble exchange rates to dollar and the German mark. According to this indexrouble got stronger in the first three quarters of 2001 by 6.83% (in 2000 thereal effective rouble exchange rate grew by 22.0%).
Changes in MoneyDemand
Changes in money demand in 2001 arecharacterized by two major trends: 1) slower growth of money demand and thelevel of monetization of the economy; 2) growth of capitalization of thebanking system and return of public faith in bank deposits.
According to the Central Bank of the RussianFederation money stock М2 bythe end of 2001 reached the level of 1602.6 billion roubles, which is 40.05%higher than on the 1st ofJanuary 2001 (in 2000 the М2growth equalled to 62.4%). In real terms by the end of October money stockМ2 equalled to 119.0% of theDecember 1997 level. Money stock М1 in 2001 grew by 35.63% (about 14.15% in real terms). Economymonetization (a ratio of М2to GDP) by the end of the third quarter of 2001 equalled to 16.6%.
An М2 pattern analysis (Figure5) shows aslower growth of balances of rouble accounts that belong to companies, while private bank depositsin commercial banks were growing. By the end of 2001 real balances of roubleaccounts that belonged tocompanies equalled to 163.4% of the December 1997 level (141.6% in December2000) growing in 2001 by 15.3%. A slower growth of real balances of accountsthat belong to companies (real balances of accounts of companies remained at the level of the end of 2000,the December calendar effect excluded) in our opinion can be explained by a supposition that thehighest possible level of economy monetization in the present situation isreached. According to results of market polls by IET starting in May 2001 theshare of money payments remained practically unchanged or was even lower incertain branches. In this way against the background of a slow development offinancial markets and a low level of interaction between the financial and realsectors of economy realmoney demand on the part of the agents of economy is beingstabilized.
At the same time real personal accountbalances in the same period grew by 22.2% reaching the level of 87.0% ofDecember 1997. This trend can be an evidence of both bigger cash resources accumulated by private personsand return of faith in the banking system. We think that both processes arepresent. As far as the foreign currency purchase share of expenses in 2000 and 2001 remainedpermanently low (5.7-7.0%of expenses) and the consumer spendings’ share and the share ofobligatory payments to the budget diminished, it becomes evident that the shareof money accumulated privately and personal savings inform of bank deposits is growing bigger.
An analogous pattern is registered in theeconomy as a whole. The pattern of commitments in the banking system ofRussia (Figure 6) testifiesto the effect that the share of foreign commitments was getting smaller (to10-11%) while the total share of deposits grew to the level of 50%. It isnoteworthy that the highest growth is registered in call deposits representedby balances of settlement and current accounts; in 2000-2001 their share grew from 16% to 19-20%.Important factors that promote return of popular faith in the banking systemare both the growth of capitalization of banks (share of capital exceeded 20%) andnegotiation of aftermath ofthe banking crisis. In particular, the share of credits with the Central Bankof total commitments of the banking system fell to the level of 8% and the share of deposits witha temporally restricted access (i.e. deposits in problem banks) does not exceed now1%.
It isnoteworthy that in the first hours after news about the acts of terrorism inthe USA in the evening of the 11th of September there was registered a growth of sale of foreigncash by citizens through exchange offices and the current purchase rate fell to the level of 20-22roubles to 1 dollar. Concurrently no growth of demand for any other foreigncurrency (i.e. the German mark or the British pound) was registered, which attests to a popularfaith in the rouble as a better quick asset and a reliable currency (in ashort-term outlook) in case of an economic crisis in the USA. There was neitherregistered a flow-out ofmoney from private foreign currency accounts, in other words, transactionexpenses connected with withdrawal and exchange of dollars from bank accounts were assessed higher thangains of a change-over for rouble even in case the situation for dollar wouldprove to be unfavourable. The next day, though, the foreign currency marketstabilized and thepurchase/sale rate spread grew narrow.
Payments SettlementSituation for Enterprises and Organizations
The trend of reduction of real accumulatedpast-due debts in the economy that started in 1998 continued also in 2001(Figure 7). The new (of 1998) trend and its later continuation were furtheredby several factors simultaneously. The first one was connected with devaluationof debts accumulated, which was caused by a higher inflation rate in the post-crisisperiod. The second one waswriting off post-due debts and charging them to financial results ofenterprises and organizations. It should be noted that volumes of theses writings offcompared to the total volume of debts were relatively small, though they are aconsiderable part of new debts’ increase(Table 1).
It is noteworthy that writing off accountsreceivable is done in comparatively bigger volumes and shares, than accounts payable. Thoughabsolute volumes of accumulated post-due accounts receivable are smaller, than that ofaccounts payable2 (3.3 billion roublescompared to 4.4 billionroubles as of September 2001, Figure 8). It shows that enterprises and organizations rather admittheir partners’insolvency3, than their own. Apparently the fact that writing off accountsreceivable is performedin a more active way is related to the following: though the tax load is notreduced4, at least the volume of accrued taxes does not grow.Accounts payable writtenoff and charged to the financial results do not abate the taxableprofit.
Dynamics of Post-Due Debts of Enterprisesand Organizations Percentage Wise to GDP
* - preliminary estimate.
Note: The total of post-due debts ofenterprises and organizations include post-due accounts payable and post-duedebts to the banking system. The accounts payable in their turn are comprisedof debts to suppliers, to budgets of all levels, non-budget funds, arrears ofwages and debts to other creditors. Before 1998 the State Statistics Committeeof the Russian Federation published non-payment statistics for four majorbranches of the economy (industry, agriculture, transport, civil construction).Since 1998 the total of post-due debts has been calculated for all branches ofthe economy.
Source: The State Statistics Committee ofRussia, calculations by IET
The thirdand, as we see it, the most important factor of decrease of the accumulateddebts’ level is thelower increase itself, which led to a stabilization of the nominal level ofdebts5 (Figure 8). Starting in 1999 the average nominal debts’ increase level has been distinctlydiminishing and started more frequently showing negative values (Figure9).
Another positive effect that continued in2001 is a decrease of non-money settlements in relations between units ofeconomy (Picture 10). Increase of money transactions implies a greater demandfor real cash balances. But the experience of previous years shows that anincrease of money stock (even of a real one) is not necessarily accompanied bylower non-payments and non-money contracts. Moreover, right up to the crisis of1998 the non-payments increment dynamics and cash balance dynamics werecodirectional6. Non-payments and money grew and fell simultaneously. In thepost-crisis period a distinct correlation between these two indices is nottraced.
Thesituation will develop further under the influence of the following factors.Firstly, the trend of ousting non-money settlements resulting from a favourableeconomic situation that had been formed earlier and institutional reforms(restructuring of enterprises, strict treatment of non-payers by monopolists,changes in the legislative sphere), is not over yet, and will in allprobability continue. It should be noted that strict budget restrictions,establishment of contract enforcement are the necessary conditions to reducedeliberate debts. In conditions when non-payments are possible (cost ofnon-performance of commitments is minimal), non-performance of commitments canbecome a rational behaviour strategy for enterprises.7.
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