After an upswing following almost two years of contraction, Russia’s recovery sputtered last quarter and gains in industrial output ground to a halt in October. Investment growth halved in the third quarter from the previous three months, with Alfa-Bank estimating that three major state projects accounted for 90 percent of all capital spending this year. One of them, a bridge linking Crimea to mainland Russia, could be finished already early next year.
“The economy has nothing to grow with, as resources are lacking,” said Oleg Vyugin, a veteran banker and formerly a first deputy chairman at the central bank. “If nothing is done, it will remain in the same state for the next 10 years.”
There is much blame to go around, with fiscal policy tight, a spotty record on reforms and curbs on oil production in place until the end of 2018. The central bank is also on the defensive after it got so stingy with monetary stimulus that Russia ended up with Europe’s highest real interest rates despite inflation at a record low.