Thursday, December 06, 2007

Inflation in Russia

Yesterday's Danske Bank flash comment reported that inflation in Russia in November was 1,2% m/m, which was signifcantly higher than most analysts expected. Danske Bank now forecasts that the CPI in 2007 will be high 12,1% y/y (gvmt target is 8,0%).
The main driver of the inflation has been food prices (1,9% growth in November). Although Putin froze the prices of main food items in November, it is hard to predict how much effect it will have on inflation in total and will it result in shortages of some food items.
Clearly, inflation is a key worry for Putin approaching the presidential elections in March 2008. As we've seen in many other autocratic countries, people are often ready to rise up against their (beloved) leader, if the prices grow out of control and people feel betrayed. It has also been one of Putin's main messages that only "adjusted Russian-style democracy" can provide rising living standards for its people. So stakes are high for Putin.
Danske Bank forecasts that inflation will grow to 14% by the beginning of summer, which will surely be felt by many poor and middle class citizens. So inflation may play a strong card against Putin('s favorite) in upcoming elections or maybe even sooner.

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