The crisis of 20 years ago is echoed to this day. Annually, Russians with a sinking heart are waiting for August, which they perceive as a “black” month. Was not an exception and 2018, threw “droveshki” in the fire of these mystical August fears. It was in the last month of the summer of 2018 that the ruble rate began to fall precipitously against the backdrop of ever-increasing sanctions pressure. Of course, the “wooden” loses in price not at the same pace as in 1998, but its weakening makes the people nervous. What will be the ruble exchange rate by the end of the year? What should I invest my money in? Should I wait for another default? On these and other questions of readers, “MK” answered on a straight line in the editorial office of Doctor of Economic Sciences Igor NIKOLAEV.
– Igor Alekseevich, traditionally in August the ruble rate is falling, but by the New Year is recovering. This year will be the same? What will be the dollar and euro exchange rate at the end of 2018?
– After the default of 1998, August is now always a “black” month. However, I do not agree with this statement. For example, at the end of 2014, or rather in the middle of December, the euro rate “pierced” 100 rubles. It was a record fall in the rate, not August. Therefore, do not be tempted to hope that, with the arrival of the fall, the dynamics of the ruble exchange rate will change direction. There are fundamental reasons for its further weakening, which are not related to the months of the year. First of all, we are talking about the state of the Russian economy, which leaves much to be desired. However, the critical collapse, which was observed in 1998, will not happen. But the ruble will be under increasing sanctions pressure. In particular, in the fall it is possible to adopt a corresponding bill of the US Congress, which has a very strong downward effect on the ruble exchange rate.
– Will there ever be conditions in Russia in which the ruble will not weaken but be strengthened?
– Of course, someday such conditions will arise. But this requires that our economy is strong. Now we can not boast of such a thing. The domestic economy is still dependent on the level of oil prices. Many structural problems have not been solved in it. Plus it beats increasing sanctions pressure, which, it seems, for a long time. All this affects the exchange rate. Let’s hope that one day the ruble will become stronger for real.
– In what currency is it better to keep the savings? As practice shows, often the method offered by specialists is to split the funds into three parts: dollars, euros and rubles – does not work. How to be?
– I also never liked this recipe. However much I would like to advise that people keep money in rubles, but, alas, I can not yet. It’s only a dream. Therefore, I have to recommend keeping savings as much as possible in dollars. I hope that the circulation of the “green” in Russia will not be banned. However, such a risk is minimal, but still exists. And this must be borne in mind.
– Recently, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that Russia can abandon the dollar in terms of oil exports and move to the ruble. Is this possible? And under what circumstances?
– To go to such a scheme, there is little desire of one Russian side. The interest of the country that buys oil is necessary. She should have rubles. The proposal of Mr. Siluanov beautifully sounds in words. In fact, it is still a difficult initiative. Who is interested in having rubles to pay for Russian oil, while the “wooden” falls? The country that calculates with us for oil, we need a strong currency, and this, whatever one may say, is now the dollar. Moreover, it is more profitable for us to conduct calculations for oil in dollars, since the American currency is growing.
– The government asserts that sanctions are not terrible for us. But as soon as the States announce the next restrictive measures, so the ruble falls. Can you assess how much damage Washington is making to our currency?
– What is a depreciating ruble? First of all, this is an increase in the uncertainty of the economic situation. The investor does not understand what to prepare for, what to focus on. For example, according to the forecast of the Ministry of Economic Development, the average annual rate of the ruble versus the dollar in 2018 should be 60.8 rubles. When the rate jumped to 68 rubles – and this is the official forecast rate as much as 2024! – investors were confused. They do not understand what is happening and what the course will be. In this situation, normal investors make a pragmatic decision: take a break and do not invest in the Russian economy. They freeze their activity, which as a result negatively affects our economy. Moreover, the reforms that our government intends to carry out, in conditions of sanctions, will not give the effect that officials expect. The necessary rate of economic growth will not be. This is the main damage from sanctions.
At the same time, the most serious sanctions concern the sovereign Russian debt, that is, the ban on Americans to buy Russian bonds. It destroys the mechanism of maintaining and strengthening the “wooden”, which worked before. After all, what happened last year and the beginning of this? The economy did not become strong, but the rate strengthened to 55-56 rubles per dollar. Why? The fact is that there was a speculative mechanism. The share of non-residents among buyers of Russian bonds as of April 1, 2018 was a record 34%. But in April new sanctions were introduced, and non-residents began to leave, and the rate immediately swung – 60-63 rubles for the “green”. The ruble exchange rate was kept at the expense of the carry trade operations, when for non-residents dollars are bought by Russian bonds, and then they are sold with good yield and transferred the earned rubles back to dollars. But from April 1 to July 1, the share of non-residents in Russian bonds declined from 34% to 28%. And with new sanctions against the sovereign debt of the Russian Federation, this mechanism will be completely destroyed. So far, these are only intentions, but with a high probability they will be adopted by the US Congress. And then do not expect anything good.
– The law on increasing the VAT rate has already led to a price increase. Now the ruble is also weakened. What goods and services will rise in price first of all?
– All will rise in price. The fact is that VAT is included in the price of any product and any service. Of course, there are food, medicines, where the reduced rate is 10%. Theoretically, prices on them should not grow. However, I assure you that, on a general inflationary background, price tags will grow on them. Paradoxically, the price of what is in high demand rises. Therefore, by the end of the year, when the seasonal harvest is over for a long time, the prices will most significantly increase for food.
– It is reported that in the near future the prices for air tickets abroad will grow. How much? How will the cost of flights within the country change?
– The cost of air tickets abroad is denominated in foreign currency. Air carriers did not hide that the price increase due to the appreciation of the dollar should be 5-8%. The course jumped, and they revise the price once a week. International flights, of course, will rise in price. In the meantime, domestic flights, in theory, should not. However, when import is becoming more expensive, prices for domestic goods and services are also tightened. Therefore, most likely, over time, prices will rise and for domestic flights.
– Our family plans to acquire its own housing. We think to take a mortgage. Is it worthwhile now to take on such obligations or is it better to wait?
– If you are sure that in the event of a worsening economic situation your family income will not change and you can pay off on a mortgage, then safely take a housing loan. With the current rate it is profitable. Everything depends on the prospects of your income in the foreseeable future.