Russia's central bank slashes interest rates to 11% as it tries to tame the rampant ruble
- Russia's central bank slashed interest rates to 11%, from 14% previously, on Thursday.
- It is trying to limit a rally in the
ruble, which has been boosted by government policy and energy revenues.
Russia's central bank slashed interest rates sharply Thursday in an effort to reduce the value of the ruble, which has soared against the
The Central Bank of
The ruble was little changed after the central bank's rate hike, and was last 0.25% lower at 60.37 to the dollar.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February sparked a plunge in the ruble from around 76 to the dollar to 140 as the war shook Moscow's financial
But the government quickly put in place strict capital controls and the central bank more than doubled interest rates to 20%, in a move designed to encourage savers to keep their rubles in bank accounts.
Increased revenues from oil and gas exports have also helped the currency, which hit a high of around 55 to the dollar earlier this week.
Russia's government has recently started talking of the strong ruble as a problem for exporters. It could also pose difficulties for the budget, because the government takes some energy taxes in foreign currency which must then be converted.
The CBR said Thursday it was open to cutting interest rates further at future meetings. The next decision is due 10 June.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has heralded the strong ruble as a sign that the economy is successfully weathering Western sanctions.
But the CBR said Thursday: "External conditions for the
However, the central bank was emboldened to cut rates by signs of a slowdown in inflation, which has spiked since the invasion of Ukraine.
It said annual inflation slowed to 17.5% in May from 17.8% in April, in part because a stronger ruble has made imports cheaper.
The central bank predicted annual inflation will fall to between 5% and 7% in 2023 and to 4% in 2024.
Economists at Dutch bank ING said Thursday they think the Russian economy will shrink by a dramatic 10% to 15% this year.
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