Posts tagged 'Russia'

Object 2014-28E — the possible Russian killersat — track it here, NOW!

Dunno what we’re talking about?

Read the otherworldly (and exclusive) story from Sam Jones: Object 2014-28E – Space junk or satellite killer? Russian ‘UFO’ intrigues astronomersRead more

From Russia with bonds

Ukraine will probably end this year with public debts over two-thirds the size of its economy. We won’t know the exact figure until March when official statistics come out, nor if those statistics will be able to count the GDP of the separatist east.

But it is not looking good. We thought this rated a reminder.

Because the President of Russia certainly hasn’t forgotten about it — or the unusual clause inserted into the language of a $3bn bond Ukraine owes to his government: Read more

Russia’s import-substitution problem

What’s an oil power to do when the commodity it owes its power to is on the wane?

One strategy, of course, is to devalue your currency so as to help the competitiveness of whatever exports you have left, and focus on the so-called strategy of import substitution – buying more of your own stuff and pretending that, heh, you just don’t care. As Deutsche Bank’s Yaroslav Lissovolik notes on Friday it is a strategy that has worked for Russia in the past, namely in 1998 and 2008. Read more

BearWhales everywhere

BearWhale
n.
/bâr-weil/

1. A large mythical creature known to operate in FX markets with the explicit intention of shattering upstanding and well-managed currencies like bitcoin, the rouble and the naira. If found to display extreme speculative dumping behaviour, defences must be organised by the champions of the superior currency zone so as to scare the wunderbeast away. These defences usually involve feeding the BearWhale large amounts of unwanted inferior dirty currency until it can physically consume no more and withdraws to its BearWhale cave. A successfully slain Bearwhale is usually cause for much jubilation and festivity within the defending community.

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Fending off the great Russian BearWhale

Back in March, when one US dollar still bought you 36 Russian roubles, we noted how the Kremlin’s attempt to publicly trash-talk the dollar by threatening to drop it as a reserve currency if and when the US was to impose sanctions was largely a propaganda tactic deployed to confuse the economically ignorant about the reality of who was really dependent on whom.

(As if Russia’s dependence on dollar reserves was ever a US Achilles heel. Quite the contrary, it’s always been Russia’s.)

From our point of view it was all a desperate measure to stave off a currency crises in the making, and obscure the fact that Russia’s CBR was losing control (given that even rate hikes were proving ineffective at curbing the rouble’s slide). Read more

Someone’s in rouble now

С начала года ЦБ для поддержания курса рубля потратил $68 млрд. Полторы Олимпиады улетело в пустоту.

— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) October 30, 2014 Read more

Russia defence spending facts of the day

From a summary of Russia’s proposed new budget, by Free Exchange:

The budget shows how much trouble the Russian economy is in—and how unwilling the government is to face up to reality. Read more

Ukraine — call the sovereign debt cops

. . .Which is an announcement by the Ukrainian Security Service on Thursday that it has opened an criminal investigation into just how Ukraine managed to sell $3bn of some curious bonds to Russia in the last months of Viktor Yanukovych’s government. Read more

Chicken Kiev

After Russia instituted its ban on western food imports in August, we noted there was a risk the measures could end up hurting average Russians just as much, if not more, than European farmers.

We also noted that propaganda dynamics could make it hard for westerners to discern the truth with regards to what was really going on. Read more

An oligarch arrest in Russia…

And so to the website of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation:

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Brent weakness is now a thing

This little chart is becoming a major headache for the world’s biggest oil producers:

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Dispatches from the cyberwar frontline with a horrified Vince Cable

Speaking on the sidelines of the SINET cybersecurity conference being held in London on Tuesday, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable expressed concern over the average age and quality of some of the IT systems of British banks.

As Cable commented to FT Alphaville:

“I’m always horrified when I discover just how ancient the technological infrastructure of the banking system is, a lot of it comes from the 60s and banks are still operating this. One of the reasons why it hasn’t been possible to get proper competition — for example when breaking up RBS –is because the banking infrastructure is just so ancient that they can’t spin it off. And it’s a massively costly business. The financial sector, although in some ways it’s one of the most advanced parts of the economy, it’s often decades not just years behind.”

The comments followed the announcement of a £4m competition for UK cyber businesses to develop ideas to tackle cyber security threats, and initiatives aimed at raising corporate and public awareness of cyber-security risk. It is hoped, in particular, that other mission-critical businesses such as utilities will come together in a collaborative process to spearhead fresh approaches to the problem of cyber crime and resilience. Read more

In Putin’s Russia, financial plumbing blocks you

Sam Jones (formerly of this parish) writes in the FT about how the conflict in Ukraine has revealed the capacity for a new type of warfare.

This is one that has “exploded the notion that expansive communications technologies and economic interdependence were fostering a kind of grand bargain.” Against it, the great power arrayed on the other side can do little, despite its considerable conventional might.

Quite so. Take, for example, this story from Bloomberg on Friday… Read more

Ukraine, war, and sovereign default

Ukraine claimed at pixel time to have fired on a number of Russian tanks crossing its borders.

Being invaded by Russia is not very conducive to a country’s GDP. But also, bizarre as it seems if its armour really is aflame in the Donbas, Russia is also the owner of Ukrainian sovereign debt. This has some precarious terms (for the borrower) restricting growth in debt to GDP to below 60 per cent. Read more

Best keep an eye on @courtneymoscow…

Here’s some Tina Fordham while we await developments… Read more

On the concerns facing directors of a major Russian energy company, right now…

The agenda of the Board of Directors meeting includes the following items:

1. Participation of Inter RAO in other organizations.

2. Liquidation (termination of activities) of a representational office of Inter RAO in the Republic of Cuba, and amendment of the Charter of Inter RAO related to the liquidation of a representational office.

3. Approval of the Insurance Program of Inter RAO for the year 2015.

4. Consideration of the report on the Company’s compliance with the legislation of the Russian Federation in the field of insider information and market manipulation for the 2nd quarter of 2014.

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Welcome to Russia’s Hunger Games

Given that modern-day warfare must at some point involve drones or autonomous vehicles, it makes sense that modern-day propaganda wars should involve Twitter and social media.

The battle for cyber hearts and minds in that regard is now getting really interesting.

One need only do a casual Twitter search for “пустые полки“, the Russian for empty shelves, to see what we mean.

The backstory here is that in retaliation for US and EU sanctions, Russia has decided to ban the importation of large categories of food products from each. Read more

A little case of Russian crude stigma

Russia’s ESPO crude blend determines the key compensation rate for Russian oil production.

As analysts at JBC Energy note on Monday, however, the crude now trades at its weakest differential to Dubai crude — the benchmark it is most commonly compared to — since it became an established blend on the market in 2010.

Whilst the analysts are quick to point out that there are legitimate fundamental reasons for the weakness, it should not go unnoticed that some regular ESPO customers seem to be missing from the market. Read more

Go long Harrods

Click for the Russian government’s official decree banning food imports from the US, EU, Canada, Australia and the Kingdom of Norway…

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The iron index screen

“From Nord Stream in the Baltic, to Russian bank subsidiaries in Austria…”

Shares in Gazprom, a company that made $32bn in net income last year, trade at only 2.6 times forward earnings.

So it’s not as if plenty of foreign fund managers weren’t already pretending that the Moscow market has been wiped from the face of capitalism.

On the other hand — via Bloomberg on Friday (and more from the WSJ): Read more

Yukos — Putin’s loose lips

Was Rosneft an arm of the Russian state in 2004?

For anyone looking at its shareholder list — or the background of Igor Sechin, chairman of the board of directors at the time — back then, it might hardly seem a taxing question. But it’s not the question the arbitration tribunal saw as important in Monday’s Yukos ruling.

This was whether Rosneft was specifically acting on behalf of the state when it played its part in the dismemberment of Yukos in 2004. (State responsibility in international law is a tricky subject.)

In an astonishing passage, the tribunal is sceptical that there is evidence of Rosneft acting in this way — until it notices the reflections of the man in the Kremlin from the time… Read more

Yukos — the interest-ing bit

Another excerpt from Monday’s ruling by an arbitration tribunal, awarding $50bn to be paid by Russia to Yukos ex-shareholders…

As part of the damages from Russia’s expropriation of Yukos’ assets — the tribunal also had to work out interest. This is an important part of any arbitration case looking at financial losses incurred years ago. Although actually, there is surprisingly little guidance on what rate to choose. And the rate used by the tribunal here is (excuse the pun) interesting. Read more

Yukos — the $50bn award

Here’s how the tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration worked out the figure, after finding in favour of former Yukos shareholders on Monday…

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Geopolitical central banking

What happens when you raise rates by 2.5 percentage points, within a period of six months, for an economy that might only grow 0.2 per cent this year?

We’re not sure. Read more

On Russian sanctions and Belgian beer…

Given that Russian subjects are reportedly being force fed a diet of Putin-esque mis-information over the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, it seems worth noting what strategists employed by Russian investment banks are saying about the threat of deeper sanctions against Russia.

Here’s Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital (emphasis ours)… Read more

Sell Rosneft, buy AK-47s

From the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control on Wednesday:

The following transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States involving the persons listed below are hereby prohibited: transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in new debt of longer than 90 days maturity of these persons (listed below), their property, or their interests in property…

Note that wording carefully. “US persons” could extend beyond the US. Meanwhile “new debt of longer than 90 days maturity” could extend beyond US dollar debt.

It does not, however, include US dollar clearing generally, the US Treasury says. Nor, it seems, CDS which references prohibited underlying debt.

Now note whose debt — not all transactions; debt — US banks, US clearing systems, and US investors may be prevented from dealing with accordingly: Read more

About that Ukrainian bond Russia owns…

Russia says Ukraine hasn’t paid interest due June 20 on that $3bn eurobond.

Ukraine said on Thursday that it had. Read more

Caption contest! Putin in China edition

That’s the Russian president on the left, rainbow-mantled former General Secretary Jiang Zemin on the right… and Gazprom’s gas deal not pictured because it is presently nowhere to be foundRead more

Peace in our time

The rally on Russia’s Micex stock index, at pixel time — Sberbank’s up 9 per cent — after President Putin decided Ukraine has been left weakened enough maybe doesn’t need a referendum in the east after all. This time. Read more

Socgen remains committed to Russia (just in case you were wondering)

As the FT reports on Wedneday, France’s Socgen has taken a €525m writedown on the goodwill of its Russian assets, becoming the first big Western bank to suffer significant financial damage from the crisis in Ukraine.

The losses emanate mostly from the bank’s rouble exposure and its ownership of the Rosbank subsidiary, which accounts for 5 per cent of the group’s total revenues. Read more