Tags: Altman | markets | Russia | capital

Evercore's Altman: 'Markets Have Spoken, Russia Is on Its Knees'

By    |   Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:53 PM

The havoc wrought by plunging oil prices on Russia's economy illustrates its weakness, says Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners.

Oil prices have hit five-year lows, with Brent crude trading at $59.37 a barrel Wednesday morning. The Russian government has estimated that its economy will shrink 4.7 percent next year if oil stays around $60.

The dollar has soared more than 85 percent against the ruble this year, trading at 61.3135 rubles Wednesday morning.

"Russia's profoundly weak, not strong. Falling population, falling life expectancy, commodity-centered economy heavily indebted and so forth. The big take away is Russia may view itself as a great superpower, and, of course, we know they have a nuclear arsenal, but it's looking pretty small compared to the power of the global capital markets," Altman told CNBC.

"We live in an era where the global capital markets are the superpower in the world, and when they move against you, as they've moved against Russia, as we've all seen in the ruble, there's nothing that can stop that," he noted.

"The global capital markets have spoken, and Russia is on its knees. It's, again, a verification that the one superpower in the world is the global financial markets, even for Russia," Altman added.

"No meaningful country can essentially withstand the global financial markets moving en masse against them, and Russia can't either."

But all this is unlikely to push Russian President Vladimir Putin to compromise on Ukraine, Altman said. He noted that people who have spent time with the Russian leader say he is neither knowledgeable about nor interested in economic and financial issues.

Others are unimpressed with Russia's economic policy too. The central bank raised a key interest rate by 6.5 percentage points Monday to 17 percent to shore up the ruble.

"It is a real panic," Kirill Rogov, an independent political and economic analyst who is often critical of the Putin administration, told The New York Times. "The ruble is being devalued by 5 or 6 percent every day, and nobody knows how to stop it."

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The havoc wrought by plunging oil prices on Russia's economy illustrates its weakness, says Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners.
Altman, markets, Russia, capital
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2014-53-17
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 01:53 PM
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