Russia set for biggest interest rate increase since 2014

Annual inflation has risen to a five-year high of 6.5%

The Bank of Russia may increase interest rates by the most since the ruble crisis in 2014 as it struggles to contain surging inflation.

Annual inflation has risen to a five-year high of 6.5 per cent and inflation expectations have jumped, setting back Governor Elvira Nabiullina’s efforts to bring price growth below a 4 per cent target. She’s already raised rates 125 basis points this year but economists see much more coming.

The majority of 37 economists polled by Bloomberg expect a 100 basis-point increase Friday, while 17 predict hikes of 50 or 75 basis points and one sees a hold.

A one percentage-point increase would be a boost for the ruble and OFZ bonds, Amundi money manager Sergei Strigo said by email, “as it probably means that Bank of Russia is getting closer towards the end of the hiking cycle.” The ruble is one of the top four emerging-markets performers this year, little changed against the dollar.

While Brazil and Russia have been raising rates aggressively to control inflation, other emerging markets are acting more slowly. The Bank of Indonesia and the South African Reserve Bank left their key rates unchanged on Thursday. Peru’s central bank kept its rates unchanged earlier this month.

The Bank of Russia has warned that most of the factors pushing up inflation are likely to last, saying it won’t be able to get price growth back to its target until the second half of next year. The central bank is expected to update its rate and economic forecasts Friday.

An increase of 75 basis points or more would be the biggest upward step since the central bank raised rates 6.5 percentage points during the 2014 ruble crisis, in the wake of an oil price rout and western sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Updated: July 23rd 2021, 9:05 AM
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