Yes, watching football and all of that hoopla about all of those assault charges and child abuse and PED going on with several players. They are supposed to be role models? I guess if you bring in the bacon, you also sometimes bring in the trash too.
I visited Venezuela back in the early 1990s. Back then one dollar was the equivalent of about 5 bolivars. The exchange rate shot up beyond 600 bolivars to one dollar a few years later. Inflation went through the roof. The country today still has a lot of problems with kidnappings, murder, and crime rampant all over the place.
For a week or so, the ruble stabilized around 38.4 / USD. (For reference, it started 2014 just below 33). I speculate that this was due to Ukraine's surrender to Putin, and the hope that this would lead to eventual improvement in the sanctions picture.
At this writing, it stands at 39.17, having just set another all-time record.
Some major factors, likely contributing to the ruble's fall:
* A few days ago, Russia seized yet another major oil company (Bashneft), arresting its former owner Vladimir Evtushenkov under charges of money laundering. All (I mean 100%) of Russia's oligarchs have committed major economic crimes, so such prosecutions are strictly political in origin: Putin decides. For some strange reason, such thefts by the state don't inspire confidence.
* A bill has been placed before the GosDuma (Russia's legislature) to empower Russia to seize foreign assets, in order to compensate oligarchs for their sanctions-related losses. For some strange reason, increasing the scope of thefts by the state doesn't inspire confidence.
* For months now, petroleum prices have been trending steadily downward. Remember, Russia's real economy is shit (quick inventory, how many manufactured goods in your house made in Russia?) Russia is third-world style extractive economy: mainly petroleum, but also industrial minerals like nickel. If you take those away, Russia's real economy is essentially as weak as Ukraine's. As long as petroleum stays high, Russia is Big Deal. At low petroleum prices, Russia is Bust. For some strange reason, this doesn't inspire confidence.
So, here we see the fruits of the Putin regime. Maximum exploitation of petro-wealth (with billions going into Putin's personal coffers), with very weak development of the underlying economy. No rule of law, but rather gangland-style dictates from the Godfather.
There is now no doubt that the Russian government will be pouring out part of its foreign currency reserves to shore up the ruble.
A nice comment on the foreign-assets seizure bill, from Boris Nemtsov, the head of one Russia's opposition political parties:
"What is [the benefit of] a strongman's friendship? It's when you have 4 villas, apartments and a hotel seized in Italy and your accomplice in the Kremlin immediately introduces a bill for damages from the Russian budget."
In the last few days, twice the rate has spiked downward (temporary strengthening of the ruble) a few tenths. I don't know nothin' 'bout currency trading, but somebody must have been making fairly big buys of rubles -- perhaps the central banking system? Anyway, in both cases the exchange rate bounced back within a few minutes.
About five weeks ago, I wrote on this forum (about the currency of the Russian Federation compared against the US dollar), "Personally, I'd love to see it hit 40."
According to xe.com, a widely used exchange rate site, the ruble (which has weakened significantly in just the last couple of days) started a very steep slide around 10 PM Friday, Moscow time.
Within an hour, it reached 40.15 / USD (all-time record, of course) from which it didn't budge for hours. On Saturday morning, it recovered to 40.00 / USD, where it stands now. And yes, I am loving it.
I suspect that from the "roundness" of these stop-numbers (the max was exactly 40.15000) that Russian central bank intervention, probably in the form of automatic ruble-for-dollar purchases, was in play.
Russian analysts are expecting some recovery in the exchange rate during the next few months.
Yes, dropping crude oil prices are a big part of the pressure on the ruble. At present, crude is expected to stabilize in the low 90s, which is actually quite difficult for Russia, but not at crisis levels.
I haven’t been to a gas station for a week now,,, but on the news they were hinting at 3.00 or less for a gallon. The one good thing for us out of this conflict.
It just shows what they are capable of,,, if they try!
Crude prices are low no thanks to Obama. The Keystone Pipeline has been on his agenda since he took office. It is still not approved. Federal lands need to be explored, but he is against it. It is all in his fight against climate change, which his vice president has declared is the biggest threat the world faces today, one week before the Crimean invasion.
Interesting BBC article: www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29465312
Two small fishing towns in the northeast corner of Norway have a long-standing trade relationship with the nearby Russian city of Murmansk. Norway, a NATO member, joined in sanctions, and Putin retaliated by banning imports of fish from Norway. The impact on these towns is quite large.
Quotes from some of the affected businessmen and organization leaders:
"We will probably see a new climate in Russia, I am a little pessimistic for the next 30 to 40 years."
"I am exhausted and it is not only about the sanctions. The Russians could just change their laws at any moment. I am thinking of getting out of the country entirely."
"I thought Russia was moving in the right direction. But I am disappointed in Russians: they see everything through (President Vladimir) Putin's eyes. I definitely see an increase in nationalism in the last one-and-a half years."
"It is really sad, but I will not return to Russia even if they turn back the sanctions. I've had enough."
Putin believes in the brutal use of force and intimidation, bullying and terrorizing people into doing what he wants. The destruction of friendships -- these Norwegian towns have long been great friends to Russia -- means nothing to him.