Russia locked in "huge" rates feud as Shuvalov cheers easing

‘Counterproductive’ Easing

Easing monetary policy with lower rates would be “counterproductive” and “likely to produce new imbalances, new risks for different segments of the economy,” Ulyukayev said Jan. 16 in comments at the same economic forum where Siluanov and Klepach spoke.

Even with lower borrowing costs, the government would also need to do its part to boost growth to a stable 5%, Shuvalov said. Economic output is projected to grow 2.4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, according to the median of 15 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. That would be the weakest pace since growth resumed in 2010 after a recession.

Priorities include developing eastern Siberia and the Far East, increasing trade with Asia and diversifying the economy, said Shuvalov, who oversaw Russia’s preparations for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Imperfect Economy

“The structure of our economy is not perfect and we depend on oil and gas a lot,” he said. “And on the metals. We need direct foreign investment. The level should be much higher than at the moment.”

State-asset sales must differ from privatizations in the 1990s, which were criticized for lacking transparency, Shuvalov said. A lawyer by training, he joined the government as a property official in the late 1990s and became Cabinet chief of staff in 2000, going on to hold posts in the presidential administration until taking his current position in 2008.

“We speak openly with all possible investors, domestic and international,” Shuvalov said. “We would like to sell in such a way that the public appreciates this, understanding it is a fair price.”

The government’s decision to impose spending caps on revenue from oil and gas starting this year will bolster state finances by reducing the dependence on oil income. Revenue from the industry accounted for 50.2% of federal budget earnings last year, according to preliminary Finance Ministry data published Jan. 18.

Russia’s international currency and gold reserves are the world’s fourth largest, trailing China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. They grew $39 billion last year to $537.6 billion as of Jan. 1, according to central bank data.

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