Hot. The rouble led the EM sell-off in January. With a 7% YTD weakness, the rouble looks technically oversold, and we expect a rebound toward USDRUB 33.5 through 1Q14. From a fundamental standpoint, a large part of the adjustment required to put the CA back on a sustainable path already happened in January, and 35.0-36.0 looks fair for YE14.
Cool. Rouble weakness is not (yet) a threat to the inflation target. Recent rouble depreciation has raised concerns that Russia might be heading for stagflation. However, the backdrop of slowing consumption and the widening output gap suggests muted FX pass-through. And even assuming a less benign pass-through, we do not see any significant risks to the CBR’s inflation target.
Yours. The CBR is likely to stay calm. As pressure on the rouble has subsided and we do not expect inflation to drift far from the target, the monetary stance is likely to remain unchanged. In a case of severe market pressure escalation, the CBR has hinted that its preferred policy choice might be to tighten liquidity and push money-market rates higher.
Growth outlook not brightening. Russian GDP grew 1.3% last year and, as we argued in our 2014 Outlook of 17 December, there is little reason to expect a recovery in 2014. Indeed, leading indicators look bearish, while the impact of a rouble sell-off on consumer and business confidence, as well as depositor flight to safety, pose additional downside risks to our below-consensus forecasts.