Economy

Russian Federation - Economic forecast summary (June 2016)

 

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The sharp fall in global oil prices has resulted in a prolonged recession. Reduced export earnings are cutting imports and investment and severely limiting fiscal policy. The depreciation of the ruble has raised prices, squeezed real incomes, especially of the poorest, and reduced private consumption. Unemployment will continue to rise. Growth is projected to turn positive in 2017 as falling inflation and rising real incomes strengthen domestic demand. The recovery will nevertheless be slow, amid a lack of structural reforms and uncertain prospects for oil prices.

Given the large drop in real incomes, it is important to prioritise social spending and protect the incomes of the weakest. The accommodative fiscal stance is appropriate, but in the medium term fiscal policy needs to adjust to permanently lower oil prices. Returning to a fiscal rule limiting the use of oil revenues could facilitate this adjustment. The current tight stance of monetary policy seems appropriate, but easing should proceed with reductions in inflation expectations. Bank balance sheets should be monitored closely, as non-performing loans have been on the rise.

Measures to combat corruption, strengthen the rule of law, reduce state control, and reinforce skills and innovation would raise productivity. While red tape has been reduced recently, more progress is needed at the regional level. In the medium term, making the economy less dependent on rents from natural resource extraction will be the key to stronger and more stable income growth.

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