Tuesday, December 23, 2014

23/12/2014: A Simple Math: Russian Default or Not

A simple math:
  • Russia's total external debt, stripping out cross-holdings of corporate entities and banks (debt owed by Russian subsidiaries to foreign parents, debt owed by Russian companies to Russian investment vehicles registered off-shore, debt owed by Russian JVs to foreign partners, etc) is around USD500 and USD600 billion, based on various estimates. Note: official estimates put gross external debt in foreign currency at USD540 billion at Q2 2014, of which we can net out around 15 percent for cross-holdings by (ultimately) Russian entities, implying gross external foreign currency-denominated debt net of cross holdings at ca USD460 billion.
  • Of this, roughly USD101 billion matures in 2015
  • Russian GDP is slightly over USD2 trillion
  • Thus, total external debt of Russian companies, households and the Government net of cross-holdings amounts to 25-30% of its GDP.  By World Bank data referencing this runs at around USD23% of GDP.
  • By the end of 2015, if the repayments take place, and factoring in dim sum new debt issuance, it will be around 22-27% of GDP or by World Bank methodology - around 20% of GDP.
By the above, Russian economy is nowhere near any significant risk of defaults, save for the risk of default induced solely by two forces (should they continue on the current trend):
  1. Oil price collapse, now increasingly looking as being caused by the combination of shale output surge and Saudi Arabia's response to that, and
  2. Western sanctions that effectively imposed external capital controls of extreme severity on Russian economy.
You can blame President Putin for many things, and rightly so. But for any, even nascent capital controls Russia imposes (I will post my thoughts on these in a couple of hours, once my comment to a journalist goes to print) you really should blame President Obama & the House of Saud.
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