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December 19, 2014 10:21
Anton Siluanov.(AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)
Russia to supply banks with up to $6.54bn to fight off crisis
Banks in Russia will get a government boost to finance debt and projects as the country risks recession. On Friday, the State Duma passed the last two readings of a law to allocate up to 10 percent, or $6.54 billion, from a sovereign wealth fund.
President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) Alisher Usmanov.(RIA Novosti / Maksim Bogodvid) Russia’s richest man first to bring foreign assets back home
Tycoon Alisher Usmanov has become the first Russian businessman to bring the controlling stakes of his key assets, mobile phone operator Megafon and iron ore producer Metalloinvest, back to Russia, after President Putin urged companies to de-offshore.
AFP Photo / Bulphoto ​Bulgaria ready to issue South Stream permits
Bulgaria is ready to issue all the necessary permits for the construction of the South Stream pipeline, according to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. He said it will up to Gazprom whether the pipeline is built or not.
Reuters / Brendan McDermid ​Fitch slashes Venezuela rating to pre-default level
The Fitch rating agency has cut the long-term credit rating of Venezuela two notches to triple-C, saying a default is highly likely, as slumping oil prices make the country one of the biggest victims.
Reuters / Leonhard Foeger Gazprom, BASF abandon multibillion dollar energy asset swap
Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom and Germany’s chemical giant BASF have scrapped a multibillion dollar asset swap deal amid the growing political tension between Russia and the West.

Business snaps

Thailand faces $1.5bn losses due to fewer Russian tourists 

Analysts in Thailand say that the country could lose next year up to $1.5 billion, or about 0.5 percent of its GDP, over a fall in the number of Russian tourists. This would be the case if the number of Russian holidaymakers shrinks by 30 percent compared to the number this year due to the falling ruble, the National News Bureau of Thailand said. The drop in the ruble would have little effect on Thailand’s trade as exports to Russia last year amounted to 0.5 percent of export revenues, and imports from Russia accounted for 1.4 percent of the country’s imports.

South Stream Transportation suspends construction contracts - report 

South Stream Transportation has informed its partners of the suspension of the South Stream gas pipeline construction, Vedomosti daily reported on Friday. In the beginning of December, the company delayed sending of Castoro Sei ship, and now contracts on new pipes and construction materials have been frozen, sources say. Representatives of OMK and Europipe companies, which are producing pipes for the project, have yet to confirm the suspension of contracts.

Brent oil gains 4.1% as sell-off is seen as ‘excessive’ 

The global price of crude has risen for a second day. Oil’s plunge to a five-year low may have been excessive according to statements cited by Bloomberg. Brent oil gained as much as 4.1 percent before paring gains, and trading volatility for both Brent and West Texas Intermediate increased to a four-year high. “The market is dramatically oversold and it needs a correction,” said Tom Finlon, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics.

Putin says amnesty for capital returning to Russia is ‘issue of legalization’ 

A capital amnesty is not about its return to Russia but rather of its legalization, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Russia is not planning the volume of such funds, he said. The issue is in legalization, he said. “If business wants to leave money, property abroad, let them do it,” he said. Putin earlier proposed a total amnesty for all funds returning to Russia.

Gas pipeline could go to Austria via Macedonia – Putin 

Russia’s gas flows could go from Turkey via Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary to Austria’s Baumgarten, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. The fate of a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece, which was announced earlier, depends on Europe’s position, Putin said during his traditional end-of-year press conference. The president said that Russia’s gas supplies are the cheapest and most reliable, and will remain so in the near future.

Russia’s GDP grew 0.6-0.7% over 10 months  

Russia’s GDP grew 0.6-0.7 percent over the past 10 months, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday. The federal budget will post a surplus of 1.9 percent of GDP in 2014, he said at the 10th annual major news conference. He specified that growth of agricultural sector in the current year will be 3.3 percent, TASS reported.

BoE policymakers say inflation likely to fall below 1% in December 

Bank of England policymakers said oil prices had fallen much more sharply than they expected in November. Inflation is likely to fall below 1 percent in December – far below its 2 percent target, Reuters reported. It was likely to stay lower than previously thought. The minutes of the BoE Monetary Policy Committee’s Dec. 3-4 meeting, released Wednesday, showed the majority thought the weak outlook for inflation warranted keeping interest rates on hold at a record low 0.5 percent.

Hundreds of Cypriot bank workers protest against the possibility of their pensions being affected should the government decide to restructure Cyprus' two largest banks, outside parliament in Nicosia April 4, 2013.(Reuters / Andreas Manolis) ​IMF withholds €88mn tranche from Cyprus
The International Monetary Fund has postponed the allocation of €88 million credit assistance to Cyprus over the suspension of a new foreclosure law.
Various Swiss Franc notes (Reuters / Kacper Pempel) Swiss central bank turns to negative interest rate amid ruble crisis
The Swiss National Bank has switched to a negative deposit rate for some deposits, as it seeks to avoid excessive growth of the national currency. The ruble crisis and unrest in global financial markets have fuelled demand for the Swiss franc.
Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Ali bin Ibrahim al-Nuaimi (Reuters / Fadi Al-Assaad) ​‘Impossible’ to cut oil production - Saudi oil minister
Saudi Arabia, home to the world’s second largest oil reserves, says it can’t afford cutting oil production, even despite the falling prices.
Reuters / Vitaliy Ankov Europe must decide if it wants gas via Turkey- Putin
The new hub on the Turkish-Greek border could deliver Russian gas to Europe, but this will depend on negotiations with European countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual press conference with media.
Reuters / Ilya Naymushin Putin says US and key oil producers may be equally interested in lower oil
The sharp drop in the oil price, which has lost more than 40 percent since its peak in the summer, may be because the US and some of other huge oil exporters are interested in that happening, President Putin said.
December 18, 2014. President of Russia Vladimir Putin during his tenth annual major news conference at the World Trade Centre on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment (RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin) Bashneft boss Yevtushenkov proved not guilty in money-laundering - Putin
The business tycoon was placed under house arrest in September and freed on Wednesday, after his innocence was proved in the Bashneft case, which accused him of laundering $500 million in the sale of Bashneft, one of Russia’s top oil companies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow on December 18, 2014 (AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov) Speculation in financial markets not a crime, Putin says
Currency speculation can’t be considered a crime, as market speculators just create a favorable situation for themselves, but don’t steal, Russia’s President Putin has said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich) Putin: Russian economy will inevitably bounce back, 2 years in worst case scenario
The Russian economy is to start growing again in 2 years in the worst case scenario, President Vladimir Putin said at his annual press conference. Russia, which is facing recession, is ready to fight the impending crisis, as it did in 2008, he said.
RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov ​AFK Sistema shares skyrocket after co-owner released from custody
The shares of AFK Sistema have jumped by more 35 percent by 12.00pm MSK after the company's co-owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov was released from house arrest earlier than planned.


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  Ruble Rumble & Cuba Libre

The Russian ruble's rollercoaster ride and how Obama considers additional sanctions against Russia, while he calls...

December 20, 2014 08:45
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  Steve Keen on most important economic lessons

Steve Keen, head of the School of Economics, History, and Politics at Kingston University, on the two most important...

December 20, 2014 03:30