Economist Ruslan Grinberg: the devaluation of the ruble is quite likely

About whether our economy for the next blow and how to protect it from external shocks, in an interview with “AIF” said Ruslan Grinberg, head of the research Institute of economy, RAS.

The uncertainty

Victoria Gudkov, “AIF”: Ruslan Semenovich, what is the probability of falling oil prices and the devaluation of the ruble?

Ruslan Grinberg: it will depend on the ratio of the factors of cost and reduction in price on the world oil market. I believe that the first has already been exhausted, but the second will begin to act with increasing force.

Divination by oil. What will happen to the market of “black gold” in 2017?

First, there is no signs of accelerating sluggish economic growth in the world as a whole. Second, for the first time in 15 years there has been a serious slowdown in economic activity in China, and it is perhaps the most powerful consumer of energy in the world. Thirdly, setting US on the release of imported oil, apparently, will soon be available through a large increase in shale oil production. This will expand the gap between growing supply and no incremental demand. Finally, fourth, is unlikely to last long the price the solidarity of OPEC member countries, which have pledged not to increase sales production by oil. So threats to prices for the main goods of the Russian export enough. So calm down and enjoy while stable oil prices are not worth it.

With regard to the possible devaluation of the ruble, it is in this light, it is quite likely. I think because of too much dependence on oil prices, we just haven’t matured to a regime of freely floating exchange rate our currency. The ruble should be supported. The stagnation of the economy and lack of investment are largely caused by insecurity and uncertainty — feelings about the future of the ruble. Our economy is so large an export and import components that it simply counter the chronic instability of the national currency.

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At the fork

— Say: we must get off the oil needle. And how to do it, understand?

— Understanding-that is. Moreover, there is a belief that the country must achieve stable economic growth and overcome the primitive structure of the economy and exports. The differences start when choosing ways to solve this problem. Here is a dispute between two schools of thinking. One, which is called the liberal considers that the need to improve the business environment. Lower taxes, reduce administrative burden, provide guarantees of private property, independence of the judiciary. Plus structural reforms in education, health, culture, science. These reforms essentially boil down to the fact that the person is paying for everything from the hospital to the grave. Bright representative of this school is Alexei Kudrin, who is now preparing a detailed programme.

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But the installation solely on private business, and it is acknowledged by the proponents of this approach, will not help the economy to make a leap. If it will grow, very slowly — not more than 1% per year. I understand the concerns of our President, who set the government the task to provide economic growth rates above the world rate (now 3%).

We at the Institute of Economics have a different approach. I fully agree that we need to create conditions for conducting business, but not enough. In our country, yet there is no business that would have pulled the country out of the quagmire of stagnation. It is only by public investment. First of all, in infrastructure and mega-projects. It is necessary to build ports, tunnels, a network of highways and high speed Railways. Deal with it infrastructure projects is necessary because over the last quarter century, we are far behind on consumer ready products. It is very difficult to compete, for example, with China. And in the infrastructure construction there is no competition.

Photo: Collage AiF/ Andrei Dorofeev

— Does this mean that Russia should abandon the idea of mass production of serial products — airplanes, cars, refrigerators?

— No, but we have to be selective industrial policy with clear priorities. It is necessary to conduct an honest inventory of post-Soviet scientific-technical potential and to understand where we have manufacturing capabilities to create competitive products, and where we are hopelessly behind. I think we are able to run about 10 of brands such as Nokia or Samsung.

Russia could also reduce dependence on commodity exports. I’m talking about the construction of high-speed railway for transit of goods from Asia to Europe. It’s mental and we are very close. We love to make something unique, grandiose — like the TRANS-Siberian railway, the spaceport or the Northern sea route.

— And whether such a corridor in conditions where the leader of the free world says about the restriction of trade relations?

Is the irony of history. United States, which called for globalization are going to go to isolationism, and the leader of an authoritarian China forum in Davos, Switzerland called for openness. The best forecast was made in one of the reputable consulting firms: “a Lot depends on what will trump. But the fact that he doesn’t know what he’ll do.” But the US has a system of checks and balances. I hope eccentricities of the President will keep.

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Reason for optimism

— You repeatedly said that with optimism look at the future of our economy. What inspires you this optimism?

— We are an independent state, we have the resources, a bit shabby, but good human potential. If a barrel of oil is not much cheaper this year, will be provided with more or less promising stability. What else is good? People are accustomed not only to live but to survive. This is shown by all the polls. Instinctively feel that revolution is not needed. In General, as noted by one of my foreign friend, “you have a bright position, but not hopeless.”

— And what prevents to move on?

— Lack of negotiability, the culture of dialogue and compromise, the inability to admit a mistake. Once derided Gorbachev’s “consensus”, and he correctly said, wisely. Of course, small countries are easier to agree, but we are many and we are different. But you should do it.

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