Russian rouble forecast: RUB regaining solid footing amid strict capital controls, despite sanctions over Ukraine war
Edited by Georgy Istigechev
17:43, 15 November 2022
Edited by Georgy Istigechev
17:43, 15 November 2022
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The Russian rouble (RUB) has been one of the top-performing currencies this year, supported by capital controls and falling imports after Western governments imposed strict sanctions on Moscow after it invaded Ukraine.
Here we look at the latest news driving the Russian rouble as well as the latest analyst RUB predictions.
How has the Russian rouble performed so far in 2022?
The Russian rouble started the year at 74.50 against the USD. The rouble then weakened significantly, pushing USD/RUB to a high of 154.25 on March 7, amid the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, the rouble recovered, and USD/RUB fell back to 74.50 by the end of April. From here, the rouble strengthened, pulling the currency pair to a low of 51.75 on June 21. The pair has gradually climbed to the current level of 60.00.
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What is the Russian rouble?
The Russian rouble, or ruble, is the official currency of the Russian Federation and has been for nearly 500 years. The rouble has been reissued seven times across its history, with its most recent issuance occurring in January 1998. Before this, the sixth rouble was introduced in 1993 to reflect the transition from the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation.
The USD/RUB currency pair reflects the number of Russian roubles required to acquire 1 US dollar. For example, a USD/RUB rate of 75.00 means that 75 Russian roubles equal 1 USD.
What moves the rouble?
The Central Bank of Russia plays a crucial role in influencing the rouble’s value. In line with the US Federal Reserve (Fed) and other central banks worldwide, policymakers consider the macroeconomic backdrop when deciding how to set monetary policy.
For the rouble, trade flows, the value of exports against imports, are significant. Russia is a major oil exporter. The price of oil is an important driver of the rouble.
Capital controls play an important role in supporting the rouble as the Russian government limits the amount of foreign currency leaving the country. Furthermore, thanks to sanctions imposed over the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russians can’t import as much as they used to, meaning that Russia is spending less of its money buying goods from abroad. Meanwhile, money continues to flow in from imports. The net effect is a stronger RUB.
The Russian central bank is now adopting measures to weaken the rouble as a stronger currency hurts the country’s fiscal account.
Historical performance of the rouble
Over the past decade, the Russian rouble has fallen over 120% from 28.00 in 2012 to current levels of 60.00. The USD/RUB traded between 28.00 to 37.0 from 2012 to 2014 before the pair soared to 85.00 in January 2016. From here, the rouble strengthened again, and the pair fell to 57 in April 2018. The USD/RUB climbed gradually across the following years, soaring to 154.00 on March 7 this year.
After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and the West applied sanctions on Russia, the USD/RUB pair soared 85% to a high of 154.00 on March 7.
Since then, the rouble’s value has rebounded thanks to high energy prices, the Russian central bank’s monetary policy, and strict capital controls.
The latest developments driving the rouble
Russia’s economic backdrop has changed dramatically since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, in a move that saw the West apply sweeping sanctions to its energy and financial sector. The measures included freezing some Russian reserves and foreign corporations exiting the Russian market.
Initially, the central bank applied a 20% emergency rate hike, up from 9.5%, to calm market risks and induce stability.
More recently, the outlook for the country has improved. Some economists have upwardly revised their GDP forecasts for Russia from a double-digit contraction to a more modest -3.5% contraction this year, according to a report by Reuters.
The rouble has been a surprise outperformer in 2022 thanks to a high current account surplus, owing to high commodity prices for exports and falling imports amid ongoing sanctions. Russia’s strict capital controls have helped to shield the financial system from sanctions. Consequently, it could be argued that the rouble’s strength is artificial.
The central bank is in no rush to soften capital controls. Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said that the central bank sees no need to ease the restrictions on, for example, foreign currency withdrawals.
However, the picture could darken for the economy going forwards after President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilisation, where more soldiers have been called up to serve the army. This, the central bank warned, could have a long-term pro-inflationary effect. With reservists being called up and removed from their current jobs, labour shortages are expected to intensify, creating upward pressure on wage growth.
In the last central bank meeting, interest rates were left at 7.5%, ending the rate-cutting cycle, which had brought rates down from 20%.
While high oil and commodity prices have been a tailwind for the currency, this could also change in the coming weeks. A plan to cap the price of Russian oil exports is in the process of being finalised and, if it is successfully implemented, could limit the inflows from export, potentially putting downward pressure on the rouble.
In the first eight months of the year, Russia earned 7.2 trillion roubles from oil and gas sales ($117bn). However, the success of the initiative, and therefore the level of impact that it has, could depend mainly on how many countries outside of the G7 sign up for the cap.
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Russian rouble forecasts
According to analysts at TradingEconomics, the RUB was expected to weaken across the last quarter of 2022. At the time of writing on November 14, the RUB forecast was expected to hit 64.7428 by the end of Q4 2022. The currency was expected to continue to fall in value to hit 83.1973 by November 2023.
As of 14 November, WalletInvestor’s USD to Russian rouble forecast predicted that the rouble would weaken near term, ending 2022 at 61.3660 – above the level it was trading at the time of writing on 14 November.
In the longer term, its US dollar Russian rouble forecast for 2025 saw the rate rising to 66.05 by the end of the year.
AI Pickup saw the USD/RUB rising to 71.80 by 2025 before the rouble strengthened again. The service’s US dollar to Russian rouble forecast for 2030 was 71.16.
Wallet Investor's euro to Russian rouble forecast for 2022 had the pair ending the year at 63.95. Over the long term, the pair was expected to end 2025 at 66.21 as the Russian rouble was forecast to weaken against the euro.
Meanwhile, analysts at ING saw the EUR/RUB pair rising to 64.40 by the end of Q1 2023 and 85.00 by the end of next year.
Analysts’ views on USD/RUB
Analysts appeared broadly downbeat about the prospects for the rouble.
Speaking to Reuters, Banki.ru chief analyst Bogdan Zvarich saw the USD/RUB pair trading in the 61.5-62.0 range. He said:
Mikhail Poddubskiy, asset manager at MKB Investments, was similarly bearish, noting:
Remember that analysts and algorithm-based forecast platforms can and do get their predictions wrong. Always do your own research before making an investment decision. And never trade or invest more than you can afford to lose.
Is the Russian rouble going up or down?
The Russian rouble exchange rate against the US dollar was at RUB 60.4, as of November 15, hitting a seven-year high on March 7, according to data from Investing.com.
Will the Russian rouble get stronger in 2023?
It is difficult to say for sure whether the Russian rouble will get stronger in 2023. Analysts at TradingEconomics expect the pair to continue falling over the coming year. However, analysts’ US dollar to Russian rouble forecasts can be wrong, and have been inaccurate in the past. Always conduct your own research before investing or trading.
Is it a good time to buy the Russian rouble?
Whether you think it is a good time to buy the Russian rouble depends on your personal circumstances, such as risk tolerance and investing goals.
It is worth noting that trading the Russian rouble has become difficult and expensive to invest in, as many brokers have limited exposure to the currency amid sanctions and market volatility. Remember that past performance does not guarantee future returns. And never invest more than you can afford to lose.