Russian Central Bank Hikes Interest Rate To 20% As Ruble Sinks To Record Low

Russian Central Bank Hikes Interest Rate To 20% As Ruble Sinks To Record Low

Topline

The Russian central bank on Monday more than doubled interest rates to 20% as the ruble, the country’s currency, sank to an all time low of nearly 118 against the U.S. dollar in offshore trading following a flurry of stringent western sanctions against the country amid its invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian ruble fell as far as 117.93 against the dollar in offshore trading on Monday, down 30% … [+] from Friday’s close.


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Key Facts

According to Bloomberg, the ruble sank to an all time low of 117.93 against the dollar after markets opened on Monday, before eventually steadying at around 102.

This represented a massive drop for the Russian currency, whose value stood at 83.75 against the dollar when markets closed on Friday.

While raising key interest rates from 9.5% to 20% on Monday, the central bank said that “external conditions” for the Russian economy have changed “drastically.” 

Earlier on Monday, the central bank confirmed that it has blocked foreign entities and individuals from selling Russian securities in an effort to deal with the “crisis in the financial market.”

The central bank also announced that it will free 744 billion rubles ($7.2 billion) in local bank reserves to help improve liquidity in the market. 

According to CNBC, several people across Russian cities are already lining up to withdraw cash, leading to long lines at ATMs.

Key Background

The slump in the ruble’s value follows a series of stringent economic sanctions imposed against Russia by the West following its invasion of Ukraine. During the weekend, the U.S. and its European allies targeted Russia’s central bank to block it from using its international reserves. Western nations also decided to remove several Russian banks from SWIFT, which enables international transactions between banks around the world. On Sunday, Norway said that its $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund—the world’s largest—will divest its Russian assets. British oil giant BP said it would also divest its 20% stake in Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft. The Russian military, which invaded Ukraine last week, continued to face fierce resistance and has so far failed to capture any major city.

Further Reading

Russia central bank more than doubles key interest rate to 20% to boost sinking ruble (CNBC)

Russia sharply increases rates as sanctions send rouble plunging (Financial Times)

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