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
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
This little chart is becoming a major headache for the world’s biggest oil producers:
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
“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.
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.)
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
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…
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
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.
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
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
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
The currency devaluation and official borrowing (to help finance a still-wide government deficit) are expected to push public sector debt up to 57 percent of GDP…
– IMF announcement of $17bn loan programme for Ukraine
Although don’t worry — that’s a whole 3 per cent before a unique debt threshold clause conceivably allows the Russian government to convert $3bn of Ukrainian bonds, which it owns, into demand money. Read more
The prospect of selling any sovereign territory to resolve disputes may seem like a taboo — especially so when it comes to the conflicted territory of Crimea. However, Joseph Blocher and Mitu Gulati, both law professors at Duke University, argue that such a “market” should in future be considered in public international law.
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At least Nomura acknowledge the absurdity… anyway, all Ukrainian roads lead to political uncertainty.
This guest post on the Ukraine crisis is from Jorge Mariscal and Alejo Czerwonko, emerging markets chief investment officer and emerging markets economist, respectively, at UBS Wealth Management.
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