Monday, December 29, 2014

29/12/2014: Some Tough Data from Moscow: Growth & Ruble

Couple of reminders that the Russian crisis is not over, yet.

November GDP figures show GDP down 0.5% y/y - the first month of decline since October 2009. In October 2014, growth was +0.5% and 0.1% m/m. November m/m posted a decline of 0.2%. All figures hereinafter are seasonally adjusted and working day adjusted.

Decline in November was driven by a broad range of sectors: industry, construction, private services, taxes on goods and import duties. Extraction sectors, electricity, water & gas, and retail sales posted positive growth.

Investment fell 1.9% m/m in November. This is before the December currency crisis and two massive interest rates hikes. So expect more red ink here when December figures come out.

January-November overall GDP growth is now down to 0.6%. Seasonally-adjusted construction sector activity was also revised - Q1 2014 posted a revised decline of 2.5% y/y against previous estimate of 2.3%, Q2 2014 posted a decline of 1.6% from an estimated decline of 0.7%, Q3 2014 decline was 0.4% from previously estimated rise of +0.1%. In October, construction sector posted revised m/m growth of 3.5% and in November the sector activity fell 1.5% m/m.

Industrial production posted another month of poor results. In September, industrial activity grew at 1.4% m/m, following by slower 0.2% growth in October, and a decline of -0.9% m/m in November.

Real personal disposable incomes fell 4.6% in Q1 2014, rose 3.3% in Q2 2014 and 1.7% in Q3 2014. In November, real disposable income fell 2.9% m/m, having posted growth of 2.4% m/m in October. We can certainly expect further and deeper declines in December on foot of massive increases in interest rates and a drop in Ruble valuations.

Retail sales rose 0.2% in November, after posting 0% growth in October.

Unemployment remains unchanged at 5.2% - the rate that has been steady for the last 6 months.

Exports of goods in November reached USD37.6 billion representing a decline of 19.7% y/y and 7.1% drop m/m. Imports of goods in November stood at USD23.2 billion, down 22.1% y/y and a decline of 13.5% m/m. So despite sharper decline in imports in percentage terms, trade balance deteriorated from USD17.0 billion in November 2013 to USD14.4 billion in November 2014.

Full year trade figures estimates are charted below:

As suggested on this blog, imports declines are expected to run deep: 8.4% y/y in 2014 against expected exports decline of 3.0%. The result is the forecast increase in trade surplus of USD11.5 billion or 7.0% y/y.

Largely unrelated to the above news, Ruble seems to have reversed some of the gains made last week and is down some 9.4% against USD and Euro on lower oil prices:

Credit: @Schuldensuehner:

Euro chart:

The point is - last week's measures are temporary in their nature:

  • 17% interest rates cannot be sustained without completely demolishing banks balancesheets, companies and households;
  • Convincing larger corporates to cut their forex deposits will have at most short-run effect, as demand for forex is likely to ramp up due to debt maturity in Q1 2015.
  • Threats of investigations and pursuit of 'speculative transactions' will do preciously nothing as most of trade will be coming via ex-Russia intermediaries.
  • Massive spike in interventions from the CBR are not sustainable, given the pressures on reserves from the banks, debt redemptions and corporates/investment.
Meanwhile, core weaknesses in the economy and oil price dynamics will remain. And with them, there will be continuous pressure on the Ruble.

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