According to the new forecast of the Central Bank, the outflow of capital from Russia this year will amount to $243 billion.
A photo: Shutterstock
Half of the federal budget this year will “leak” from the country! The employees of the Central Bank are sure of this. According to the new forecast of the Central Bank, the outflow of capital this year will be a huge amount – $ 243 billion. This is more than three times more than in 2021 (see “Only numbers”). Where and why is capital flowing? And is it really impossible to stop this flow of money crossing the border? “Komsomolskaya Pravda” understood together with experts.
THERE WOULD BE NO ROAD TO BUILD!
The phrase “capital outflow” triggers a conditioned reflex in many people. They begin to moan about the traitors, who thereby prevent their native country from building schools, hospitals and generally flourishing. Angry posts are already circulating on social networks that the country lacks $20 billion for the construction of the Moscow-Kazan highway, and $30 billion for the replacement of old water pipes. If only hundreds of billions would not flow away, but would remain in the country…
But in a fit of proletarian anger, many forget two things. First, when the Central Bank talks about “capital flight”, he means the money of individuals and companies. Whether citizen Sidorov takes his hard-earned money abroad or not will not increase or decrease money in the budget for road repairs.
And secondly – and this is the most important thing – economists invest in the concept of “capital outflow” a completely different meaning than ordinary people.
SORRY FROM EXPORT
There is such a stable stereotype. If a country has an outflow of capital, then it has a bad economy. They say that investors do not want to bring money here, and local oligarchs have grabbed resources and take illegally acquired abroad. Yachts, villas, everything.
“The outflow of capital does not mean that capital is being exported abroad in bags,” explains Georgy Ostapkovich, Director of the Center for Market Research at the Higher School of Economics.
More precisely, in part it is. But the process itself is much more complex. There are much more significant factors influencing the final figure. And as experts explained to us, it is not so much the difficult situation in the economy that is to blame for the record capital outflow in 2022, but … Russia’s record profit from exports.
– This year the prices for Russian export goods are high, and imports have decreased significantly. This leads to obvious consequences – Russia has a very strong “current account” (the difference between exports and imports. – Ed.). And as a result – a large outflow of capital, – says Oleg Shibanov, Professor, Director of the SKOLKOVO-NES Center for Financial Technology and Digital Economy Research.
We explain on the fingers. Due to expensive oil, gas and metals, Russian exporting companies will earn a lot of money this year. But not all of this money will remain in the country – some will leak. And since incomes are high, a lot will flow away. Let’s find out how and where these $243 billion will get away from us.
1. Return of external debts
Let’s look into the past. In recent Russian history, there was only two years of net capital inflows – in 2006 and 2007. Then the economy was at its peak, the ruble was strengthening. And our companies actively borrowed money abroad because it was cheaper there. On the one hand, this is good. Money is taken from abroad and invested within the country. On the other hand, it’s bad. The credit burden of private companies is growing. In 2008, this came back to haunt many.
According to the Central Bank, about half of the current capital outflow is the repayment of debts by our large companies. When the dollar began to rise sharply in early March, many Russian organizations rushed to pay off their foreign creditors before the exchange rate became indecently high.
But by the end of spring, the dollar fell. And many companies that have already managed to make good money selling resources abroad did not fail to use the strong ruble to buy dollars cheaper and pay off some more of their debts. This is nominally considered a capital outflow. But at the same time, the position of the borrower is clearly getting better. Is this a plus or a minus? In this case, it’s more of a plus.
Due to expensive oil, gas and metals, Russian exporting companies will earn a lot of money this year.
A photo: Shutterstock
2. Balances on the accounts of exporters
The main consequence of excess profits from the sale of resources is a huge foreign exchange earnings. But there is a nuance. Not all of this revenue went inland.
– Any oil company receives currency. Only a part of the proceeds is converted into rubles. The rest lies on accounts in foreign banks, – explains Sergey Pukhov, leading expert of the Development Center of the Higher School of Economics.
From an economic point of view, this is also an outflow of capital.
3. Withdrawal of funds by foreigners
This factor did not affect as much as it could.
After February 24, foreign investors began to actively withdraw money from Russia abroad. For example, they sold government bonds and shares of Russian companies.
But then the US and the EU frozen Russian reserves in dollars and euros. The Russian Central Bank did not remain in debt: it froze the capitals of foreigners (from unfriendly countries) in the same way and forbade them to withdraw funds from the Russian financial system. According to the Central Bank, the amount is approximately the same – $ 300 billion. If there were no such blocking, the outflow of capital would be many times higher.
4. Demand for currency from Russians
This factor is not the most important, but it is impossible not to talk about it. The outflow of capital traditionally includes the demand of Russians for foreign currency.
– If you bought 100 dollars in an exchanger, then according to the position of the balance of payments, this passes as an outflow of capital from the country. Because you have invested money in a means of payment of another state, – Georgy Ostapkovich explains.
Previously, as a rule, it was about a couple of billions a year. But this year, the demand for dollars and euros was many times higher (even despite the half-closed borders). First, the population rushed to buy foreign currency in February and March. Both in cash and non-cash form. Fearing the devaluation of the ruble. And when the dollar began to fall, this increased demand even more. For example, you can buy currency in a non-cash form without restrictions. Sending abroad is more difficult, but some banks have not been sanctioned. At least in the second quarter, payments abroad to one’s own and relatives’ accounts went through.
There is no separate line in the statistics of the Central Bank in this regard. According to expert estimates, we can talk about at least $ 10 – 15 billion. But this does not mean that all of them, down to the last cent, went abroad to buy those very “yachts and villas”. They can lie on foreign currency and brokerage accounts in Russian banks, but at the same time they are nominally considered capital outflows.
And yet capital outflow – is it good or bad?
It is impossible to answer this question unambiguously. It all depends on the content of financial flows – what exactly the money is spent on, flowing out of the country and “flowing” into it.
It is probably better if we earn not by selling resources, but by exporting something high-tech. And get the right price for it. And to import not only tea and bananas, but also machine tools, equipment and what will give us an impetus for development in the future. And finally, it is desirable that foreign investors stand in line to invest in our country, develop industries here, create jobs and pay taxes.
– As in any process, it is not the process itself that is important, but what stands behind it. If our oilmen receive excess income and buy shares of foreign companies abroad, this is an outflow of capital. But at the same time it is the promotion of our business. And if companies appear that conclude fictitious contracts for the supply of imports and export capital abroad under this screen, this is definitely bad. And I am very afraid that the second scenario, which was widespread in the 90s and early 2000s, will again become a reality, – Sergey Pukhov sums up.
A photo: Nail VALIULIN
Capital outflow from Russia in the last 10 years ($ billion)
2012 – 53.9
2013 – 60.3
2014 – 152.1
2015 – 57.1
2016 – 18.5
2017 – 24.1
2018 – 65.5
2019 – 22.6
2020 – 50.4
2021 – 72
2022 – 243*
* Central Bank forecast for the end of the year. In the first six months, $ 138 billion “flowed away”.
According to the Central Bank.