Tags: Russia May Face Debt Crisis Like Greece

Russia May Face Debt Crisis Like Greece

Thursday, 23 Jun 2011 11:46 PM

Russia may face a debt crisis similar to the one gripping Greece by 2030 unless the government reduces spending, said Sergei Ulatov, the resident World Bank economist in Moscow.

“By 2030 the debt level would be unsustainable like in Greece” if nothing changes, Ulatov said in an interview during the Russia and CIS Capital Markets Forum organized by Euromoney in London today. “Right now, we are mostly helped by oil prices and not by a very prudent macroeconomic policy.”

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin this week urged the government to cap annual spending increases at 4 percent to stabilize public finances and avoid state “paternalism” in running the economy. The budget deficit may narrow to less than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product this year if oil prices average $115 a barrel, according to Kudrin.

Oil prices tumbled to the lowest level in four months today after the International Energy Agency said its members would release crude from strategic reserves. Urals crude, Russia’s benchmark export blend, has averaged about $108 a barrel this year and dropped 5.2 percent to $105.83 today.

By 2015, Russia won’t be able to cover the shortfall in the pension fund even if oil stays at the current break-even level of $115, Ulatov said.

In an e-mailed statement later in the day, the World Bank reiterated its official view on Russia, and said the world’s largest energy exporter will probably have monetary and current- account surpluses this year and in 2012 because of higher oil prices.

"Russia faces no traditional fiscal sustainability issues" because it has low government debt and $520 billion of foreign- currency reserves, the statement said. "Nevertheless, the non- oil fiscal deficit -- which matters more for Russia’s long-term fiscal sustainability -- remains large."

Big infrastructure projects including hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2018 World Cup will create an additional burden for the budget, according to the economist Ulatov.

“They will have to borrow,” he said. “They do have this capacity now, but for how long?”

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Russia may face a debt crisis similar to the one gripping Greece by 2030 unless the government reduces spending, said Sergei Ulatov, the resident World Bank economist in Moscow. By 2030 the debt level would be unsustainable like in Greece if nothing changes, Ulatov said...
Russia May Face Debt Crisis Like Greece
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2011-46-23
Thursday, 23 Jun 2011 11:46 PM
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