Category Archives: Russian GDP growth

9/10/18: Russian Growth, ‘Putin;’s Call’ and the Middle Income Growth Trap

Quick chart showing relative underperformance in the Russian economy in recent years, incorporating latest 2018 forecasts:

The above clearly shows that since 2013, Russian economic growth has statistically underperformed the 'Putin's Call' levels of growth, defined as rates of growth in real GDP achieved during the period after the immediate post-1998 crisis recovery and into 2012, omitting the period of the Global Great Recession impact of 2009. 'Putin's Call' rate of growth is set at around 6% pa, with the 95% confidence interval around this at [2.83, 9.15].

The lower bound of this confidence interval is important. While no one can expect the Russian economy to grow at the 'Putin's Call' levels of 6%, let alone the upper bound levels of 9.15%, Russian economy does require longer-term average growth rates at around 2.8-3%, slightly above the lower bound of the 'Putin's Call'. As of consensus forecasts forward, the economy is expected to expand at around 1.5-1.8 percent pa over 2018-2023, which implies significant cumulative underperformance relative to medium term growth requirement.

Fiscally, structurally lower rates of growth are sustainable for Russia, but socio-politically, Russia needs serious acceleration in its growth rates to offset adverse demographic pressures (rising pensions dependencies) and global economic pressures (much faster growth rates in the Emerging Markets). The lower bound of the 'Putin's Call' and Russian economy's sub-par performance relative to it is a clear illustration of the Middle Income Growth Trap that Russia has entered ca 2010 post-GFC and the Great Recession (see for the definition and here for discussion. My earlier post on the subject for Russia here:

16/5/16: 1Q 16 GDP growth and other recent stats on Russian Economy

Russian GDP (preliminary estimate) shrunk 1.2% y/y in 1Q 2016, with the rate of contraction in the economy moderating from 3.7% for the full year 2015 and from 3.8% drop recorded in 4Q 2015. So the economy is still shrinking, albeit at a slower pace, and slower, yet, than consensus annual forecast for the decline of 1.7%.

Some interesting developments on inflation front too.

April CPI was up 0.4% m/m and 2.5% y/y which is well below m/m and y/y inflation recorded in April 2015 at 0.5% and 7.9%, respectively. Food inflation was running at 5.3% y/y in April 2016 against 21.9% registered in April 2015. January-April 2016 y/y inflation in food prices was 'only' 6.5% which compares against 22.2% inflation in food prices registered in January-April 2015. HICP inflation for April 2016 was 7.6% y/y and January-April 2016 period HICP inflation was 8.8% y/y, against corresponding figures for April 2015 and January-April 2015 at 17.5% and 16.6%, respectively. Amongst food products: Meat and poultry (-0.2% y/y for the first four months of 2016), Sugar (refined) (-0.2%) and Fruit & Vegetables (-1.9%) registered deflation in prices over the first four months of 2016 compared to 2015. During the corresponding period of 2015, all categories of food products registered double-digits inflation.

Consumer price index evolution in 2015 and 2016 by month
Source: State Statistics Committee

Trend toward much more subdued inflation continued in the first ten days of May 2016, based on preliminary data.

Meanwhile, imports substitution policies are starting to finally show some positive payoffs (albeit, helped heavily by massive ruble devaluations of the recent 18 months):

  • Beef production rose 4.34% in 2015 compared to 2010-2013 average;
  • Pork production was up massive 73.6%
  • Meat products are up 18.8%
  • Fish & sea food however shrink 5.82% in 2015 compared to 2010-2013 average;
  • Milk and milk products output was up 5.99% in 2010-2013 average.