Success in squeezing persistently high inflation out of the system would be an historic achievement for the Central Bank under the leadership of Elvira Nabiullina and would have positive implications for Russian financial asset prices. Nabiullina’s improving chances of success are founded on her most important achievement to date, which is to have secured President Putin’s support for what she calls “moderately tight” monetary policy. The CBR does not enjoy statutory independence in its pursuit of an inflation target. It therefore depends on political support (as, arguably, is the case for its global peers, which are formally independent). President Putin has consistently provided such support since the previous crisis of 2008-09. In our view, his underlying motive came out of the lesson brought home by that crisis – namely, that monetary policy matters for sovereignty and self-reliance (paramount goals for Putin). In the run-up to 2008, Russia became prey to the well-known “impossible trilemma”, whereby a country with a convertible currency and pegged exchange rate must submit to having its domestic interest rate set by the outside world. Quite apart from the intrinsic desirability of regaining monetary sovereignty in Putin’s world view, an inflation-targeting framework makes it easier to weather periodic crises. That political support will continue for two reasons: first, the worst is over for real household income, and monetary policy is now helping rather than hindering this turnaround; second, Nabiullina is avoiding shock therapy, thanks in part to effective coordination with fiscal policy. (Russia 26 April 2016)
10y bond yields fall from 9.25 on 26th April to bottom at 7.48 in May 2017. RTS index rises from 951 on 29th April to peak at 1196 in January 2017.