Russia’s economy and the price of oil are inextricably linked.
The country relies hugely on the oil and gas industries, with more than 50% of total government revenues coming from the sector.
That means that since the price of oil started to crash in mid- 2014, Russia’s economy — which is also feeling the squeeze from Western sanctions — has been in the midst of a battle for survival.
The price of of oil doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon, despite chatter last week that OPEC and Russia may be considering a production cut sending prices soaring briefly. At the time, Russia’s biggest oil company Rosneft, described a rally in the oil price as “idiotic”.
Continuing low oil prices can only mean one thing for Russia — more pain.
In the latest of a series of notes on the oil crash in non-OPEC nations, analysts from Bernstein Research — led by Dr. Oswald Clint — have shed light on just how much trouble the current oil price crash is causing the Russian government, with a heap of great charts to illustrate that point.
The note argues that the government’s finances are in their worst position in more than a decade, which is quite some feat given that the country underwent one of the most severe recessions in its history, only six years ago.
Things look so bad that Bernstein describes the country’s finances right now as “going off a cliff” adding (emphasis ours):
It is unlikely that this situation will reverse itself unless there is a significant increase in oil prices or a removal of sanctions which lets the country access international debt markets openly again. None of these scenarios look likely anytime soon.
Check out the charts showing Russia’s pain below.
Russian GDP will continue in negative territory through 2016, just about returning to growth next year, and passing 1% growth by 2018.
The amount of money the Russian government can bring in is hugely dependent on the price of oil. As Bernstein puts it: “In Russia, government receipts remain very sensitive to oil prices.”
Russia spent in excess of $150 billion of its currency reserves in 2014, before the reserve rates stabilised last year. However, Bernstein predicts that the continuing decline in oil and the ruble, will force the government to spend more of its foreign cash.