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Further dynamics of the international oil prices will be determined primarily by the level of the OPEC countries’ carrying out their decision on the coordinated contraction in oil output. It should be envisaged that the index of the OPEC countries’ fulfillment of their respective commitments should be lowering. Having compensated for the losses they had suffered during the 1998 price crisis, it is unlikely that in the long run OPEC members would maintain world oil prices, which currently are extremely high, as that would encourage the development of oil production in highly costly regions, which would inevitably entail the shrinkage in the OPEC’s share in the international oil market. That is why one should envisage that yet in 2000 the oil output by OPEC members should grow notably resulting from either increasing quotas, or decreasing the level of performance of the present quotas (in fact, such a growth has already started since late 1999). According to some projections of the US Department for Energy, in 2000 the oil output by OPE countries would grow by circa 4.8% (last year that slid by 3.6%), and in 2001- by 3.9%.

One should also expect the growth in oil output beyond the OPEC, for higher world prices would generate production expansion (in 1999 the countries – non- members of OPEC experienced the fall in their oil output which was determined by the production reduction and fall in investment in some regions because of extremely low world prices emerged between 1998 through early 1999).

In all, according to the US Department for Energy, the world oil output, which fell by 1.8% in 1999 vs. 1998, in 2000 should grow by a. 3.0%, and by yet 2.9%- in 2001. The growth in oil output should result in the fall in the international oil prices over 2000- 2001 as compared with the current high prices. There are certain grounds to assume that the US, the largest oil consumer worldwide, would also be pursuing a policy in that direction, for the extremely high oil prices inhibit economic growth there.

According to some projections, the world demand for oil should grow by a. 1.9% (1.2% in 1999), and by 2.6% - in 2001. At the same time, because of the problems which some South- east Asian countries currently face, the growth in the world demand for oil should be less than the one prior to the Asian crisis, regardless of its exceeding the level of the prior year. As envisaged, in 2000, the increment in the demand for oil in Asia should be a. 60% of its annual average increment rate noted between 1991 through 1996. Like in 1999, the world demand for oil would exceed the respective offer, which would entail further fall in the respective commercial stock.

According to the basic scenario of the latest (as of January 2000) projection of the US Energy Department, in 2000, the world oil price (calculated as an average price of oil imported to the US) should make up USD 22.38/barrel, or at a. USD 5 higher than the average level reported last year. In 2001, there should be an additional drop in the international oil prices- to USD 19.35/barrel. However, even in that case the prices will be substantially higher compared with the average level of international oil prices noted over the last ten years (during the ‘90s, the average annual level of nominal oil prices made up USD 17.6/barrel). That allows the assumption that the Russian economy would continuously benefit from the positive effect created by high world prices for energy resources.

Fig.1

Yu. Bobylev

IET Monthly Trend Survey: January 2000

As usual, January became a quite period for the industrial sector. In the wake of the slowdown of the growth in sales and fall in the volume of barter transactions the growth output dropped notably. However, the enterprises’ forecasts clearly show growth of the industrial sector’s optimism.

The growth in effective demand practically stopped. The reports on growth in sales were only 2 points higher than the reports on fall in sales. In December, the difference made up 11 points. The absolute reduction in monetary demand was registered in the chemicals, petrochemicals, food- processing, and construction industry, while the other sectors experienced the slowdown in the growth of demand. This process was taking place, to a greater or lesser degree, in all the industry branches.

As a result, the volume of the overall (effective + barter) demand discontinued to grow. The share of enterprises which reported growth in at least single kind of demand became practically equal to the share of enterprises which experienced fall of those kinds of demand. In December, the calculations showed a 10-point growth.

The growth in output slowed down to the same substantial extent, however, the absolute growth in the output volume by the industrial sector as a whole remained at fairly satisfactory level. The contraction in output continues in the construction industry and was noted in the non- ferrous metallurgy and food- processing industry, while in the other sectors intensity in output fell.

The volume of stocks of finished products continues to drop. There has been no growth in this index registered since mid- 1996. The contraction of the stocks also takes place in all the industry branches, and that is most intensive in the ferrous metallurgy. As a result, it is below norm reports which prevail in estimates stocks of finished products. Over the last nine months, only 15-18 % of enterprises considered the respective volume excessive. In January, it was the food- processing and machine- building sectors, and construction industry that reported above norm at most.

The volume of raw materials in stock remains insufficient. Last year, about 2/3 of enterprises estimated that as being below norm. In January, the majority of such reports were received from the light, machine- building and wood- working sectors, and in the non- ferrous metallurgy.

In January, the intensity of price rise did not experience any changes. The reports on the growth in producer prices prevailed in all the sectors, and especially notably- in chemicals, petrochemicals, and in the wood- working sector, while the most moderate growth was registered in the light industry.

The projections in the change in output peaked their absolute maximal value in January: almost half enterprises intend to increase their output over the forthcoming months, while only 5% of them plan to decrease that. The correlation is approximately the same in the other sectors, except the electric power and non- ferrous metallurgy. Over the last 6 months, the projections of changes in pricing have remained stable. Plans to rise prices steadily dominate in the industrial sector.

In January, the projections of the change in effective demand have become most optimistic since July 1998. All the sectors count on the growth in monetary sales except the electric power and non- ferrous metallurgy. The most optimistic expectation is shared by the chemicals, petrochemicals and construction industry.

The projections of the change in barter demand did not change and remained at the lowest point since the beginning of registration of this index in August 1998. Some minimal growth in barter transactions may become possible only in the industry of construction materials, while the other sectors mostly hope that the volume of barter transactions would fall.

Employment dynamics projections continue to grow. The expectations of growth in employment prevail in the industrial sector for the fourth Quarter running. In January 2000, only 4% of enterprises plan to downsize, while a year ago the respective index was 22%. At the same time, the share of enterprises with excessive employment grew from 17 up to 22% vs. October 1999, and the growth in the respective index was reported by all the sectors. As a result, responses more than enough currently prevail in all the sectors, but the light industry, in which reports insufficient prevail. The excessive employment is especially notable in the non- ferrous metallurgy and industry of construction materials.

S. Tsoukhlo

Situation in the farm sector

The annual indicators of agricultural development in 1999 illustrate not only a stabilization and production growth in the sector but also a qualitative shift in the state of traditionally loss-making producers under the impact of macroeconomic factors. The sector is gradually recovering after the last year's recession. Just like in 1998, the middle of the year was the turning point (Figure 1). But in 1998 it marked the start of production drop, dramatically aggravated by the August crisis. In early 1999 the agricultural production stabilized (although at a lower level as compared to 1998), in the mid-year it reached the 1998 level and then began to grow.

Figure 1.

Agricultural production volumes (as % of the corresponding period last year)

Source: Social and economic situation. Russian Statistical Agency, January 2000.

The reversal of production trend from decline to growth is due to the sector's adjustment to financial crisis' after-effects - namely to the demand shift to domestic agricultural and food products. Agricultural producers got incentives to increase production: on the one hand, the expanding domestic demand provided better opportunities for selling the marketed part of output; on the other hand, the falling real incomes stimulated the growth of subsistence (i.e. non-commodity) production. The latter is illustrated by the expansion of planted areas and the revival of household production which began to slowly shrink in the favourable pre-crisis year.

In 1999 the production of all major crops notably grew. The production of sugar beets in all types of farms increased by 40.9%, of sunflower seeds - by 38,4%, of vegetables - by 16.5%, of potatoes - remained at about the same level - 99.4% as compared to 1998; the grain production grew by 14.2%, but since it's compared with the year of extremely poor yield, this growth may not be sufficient to meet the domestic demand. However, one should keep in mind, that similar to the previous years, the officially reported production volumes are understated as compared to the actual ones; moreover, it's difficult to control the recording of grain output increment due to higher yields that will be mostly concealed by producers.

For the first time in recent years the growth of crop production was not entirely due to a traditional extensive factor - the expansion of planted areas. In 1999 crop yields increased significantly and thus a bigger output was partially accounted for by intensive factors. The application of fertilizers during sowing campaign grew and so did the domestic sales of agricultural machinery. According to estimates of the Center for Studying Economic Situation, the number of tractors sold in the country in 1999 was up 18% as compared to 1998 and 21% up as compared to 1995; the number of grain harvesters sold was 88% up from the 1998 level. This is a very important indicator evidencing, first, the beginning of long-term investments in agricultural production and, second, the ability of producers to make such investments due to a better financial situation or an emergence of creditors that are ready to lend middle-term loans to agricultural producers and most likely get guarantees of these loans' paying back.

As it was anticipated, the import substitution trends of 1998-1999 led to a higher profitability of agricultural production. Without a noticeable strengthening of state support or a change of notorious price parity in agriculture, the number of profit-making farms and the profitability of the sector as a whole increased dramatically. As of October 1, 1998 over 87% of agricultural enterprises in Russia operated at a loss; as of the same date 1999 their share dropped to 52%. While in 9 months 1998 the marketing of agricultural products incurred losses (averaging 21.7%), in 9 months 1999 it became profitable with profits averaging over 14%. Given that within several years depreciation was accruing on accounts but not duly utilized (thus increasing costs), the actual profitability is above 20%.

The marketing value grew almost twice while agricultural prices rose by 6.7%, i.e. the marketing volume was up about 80%. The major source of this growth was a bigger domestic demand due to shrinking imports of agricultural and food products.

The study of records of agricultural enterprises shows that the share of barter in the total marketing amount exceeds 50%. The comparison of money returns from marketing goods, works and services with the total amount of marketing agricultural products (incorporating non-money transactions) illustrates that the share of barter grew from 30% in 1995 to 55% in 1998 (Table 1). The increase of money returns from marketing in 1999 could as well reflect a substantial shortening of barter but there are no grounds for such suppositions. Most likely the barter component of marketings in 1999 grew in line with the substantial overall expansion of agricultural enterprises' sales.

Table 1.

The estimated share of barter transactions in agriculture

1995

1996

1997

1998

Money returns from marketing (1)

41.2

39.2

38.8

40.8

Marketing amount (2)

59.1

81.6

90.1

90.1

Share of barter in marketing [(2-1)/2]

30.29

51.96

56.94

54.72

Source: Calculated from Annual reports of agricultural enterprises.

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