This news is fairly staggering. The ruble broke 45/USD for the first time in its history, only 25 days ago.
Now, it has lost about one sixth of its value even from that miserable benchmark -- in less than four weeks.
Probably, this is motivated by the ongoing fall in crude oil prices. At the end of last week, Brent crude was selling below USD 70 / bbl, and Russia's Urals benchmark crude usually trades about USD 1.50 / bbl below Brent, so Urals is almost sure to sink below USD 70, if it hasn't already.
Futures trading (a kind of gambling on the future value of commodities) currently has substantial "bets" on Brent dropping to USD 65 / bbl, which would surely mean similar prices for Urals.
Remember, the "pain threshold" of Russia's federal budget is USD 80 / bbl, and Putin's budget is based on USD 95 / bbl or higher. Because petroleum is such a large percentage of Russia's GDP -- and a much large percentage of its foreign trade, and access to much-needed foreign currency -- the knock-on effects of cheap oil on the overall Russian economy will be painful.
While I've been writing this post, the ruble got as weak as 52.59 / USD, and right now sits at 52.39 / USD.
If the ruble breaks 60 / USD, I may have to go to Russia just to gloat.
I just read a claim that the ruble topped out today at 54 / USD; xe.com shows the peak at 53.75 / USD (about 7 hours ago).
In the past few hours, the ruble has been staying in the high 51s (right now 51.80).
Financial press is reporting that the "recovery" of the ruble appears to be a central bank intervention, though this is not presently confirmed.
The really interesting, and meaningful story: the ruble is reacting to crude price changes much more strongly than it did six years ago at the time the world financial crisis began. THIS IS ALMOST CERTAINLY DUE TO SANCTIONS.
The Western sanctions regime has left Russia's economy much more brittle and vulnerable. The markets know this, and respond accordingly.
Also, Putin's government has fattened up: in 2006, USD 20 / bbl was enough oil price to keep Russia's federal budget going. Now, it needs USD 100 / bbl.
grass growth rates involve many variables Genetics determines potential growth rates and interacts with the environment and cultural practices to produce the actual growth rate. Conditions being equal, some turf grasses are inherently (genetically) faster growing than others, even different varieties of the same species. Conversely, the same variety will grow at varying rates in varying conditions.
The article lonely posted above is very entertaining. It paints the picture of life in Russian-occupied Crimea in the darkest possible light ... but still, I'm confident that what it says about murders and disappearances is factual.
An easier-to-use link: http://goo.gl/B7ZwXn
A quote you guys will enjoy:
"In fact, when we arrived here, there was a single lone Westerner in the hotel: an American man who the staff labelled a 'sex tourist'. He was deep in conversations in the cafe with two women young enough to be his granddaughters. "
Another highlight: the multi-billion dollar bridge that is someday supposed to connect Russia to Crimea was originally the brainchild of Albert Speer, Nazi Minister of Economics and War Production ... one of Hitler's favorites. Crimea is experiencing food shortages, and one resident quoted in the article worried what would happen if a week of bad weather cut the ship traffic that now supplies Crimea.
My personal favorite: a photo of a restaurant with an enormous banner that translates as "Glory to the defenders of New Russia" (New Russia is Putin's vision of eating all of southeastern Ukraine; these glorious defenders are the murderous armed thugs of Donbas). The name the restaurant: World of Friendship of Nations.
Oh those Russians, they make me laugh till it hurts.