Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Ruble Rally

Mark Thoma noted that Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin characterized U.S. inflationary policies as "hooliganism" and argued that if Russia wants to shield itself from the inflationary consequences it should allow the ruble to appreciate.

But as it happens, Russia has done so. Since the beginning of the year the ruble has appreciated from 3.27 cents to 3.58 cents, a 9.4% gain. Only the Swedish krona has gained more (+10.1%), while the Norwegian krone has also gained 9.4%.

Russia, like Norway but unlike Sweden and America gains in the short term from the great rally in the prices of oil and other commodities fueled by the war in Libya and Fed policy. However, the Russians are likely worried that the negative effects on oil importers could in the medium to long term cause another economic downturn, something that in turn could cause a big collapse in commodity prices like during the second half of 2008.