Authorities come to a crisis with a cash pillow of 18 trillion rubles that cannot be spent
With a liquidity reserve of about 18 trillion rubles. the anti-crisis package of the Russian government does not exceed 1.4 trillion rubles. - to spend more prevents the budget rule.
The ruble and foreign currency deposits of federal authorities in banks and the Central Bank, which comprise the government’s liquid assets, are estimated at 15.3 trillion rubles as of March 1, 2020. This is written by the Republic of Kazakhstan, referring to data from the Bank of Russia. The calculations were made shortly before the collapse of oil prices to a record low of 1999 and quarantine measures in connection with the epidemic of coronavirus, which led to the cessation of entire sectors.
In addition to the liquidity of the federal center, as of March 1, 2.4 trillion rubles were in bank accounts. - funds of regional governments. That is, the liquid assets of the "expanded" government - both federal and regional authorities, as well as extra-budgetary funds - amounted to 17.7 trillion rubles, which exceeds 16% of the country's GDP.
Moscow traditionally retains leadership in deposits, in the second place is the Tyumen region.
The accumulated liquidity mainly includes the currency of the National Wealth Fund (NWF), the currency that the Ministry of Finance managed to acquire at the beginning of this year (when the prices for black gold were still at $ 42.4 per barrel), ruble balances in the federal budget and balances of money in accounts of extrabudgetary state funds.
From March 1, the monetary reserves of the federal authorities could grow by at least 1.2 trillion rubles. due to the weakening of the ruble. As of April 1, the volume of liquidity of the NWF funds held in the accounts of the Bank of Russia amounted to 11.1 trillion rubles. Excluding funds reserved for the acquisition of shares in Sberbank, the amount amounted to 9.6 trillion rubles.
In addition, the Central Bank accounts about 0.66 trillion rubles. the currency that the Ministry of Finance acquired for the NWF from January to March. This currency has not yet been credited to the fund. At the same time, in March, the Bank of Russia began proactive sale of currency under the budget rule. Then it was sold 191 billion rubles. Probably, this amount will be later debited from the Ministry of Finance.
At the beginning of April, the balances of the federal budget amounted to 1.85 trillion rubles, including 1.2 trillion rubles. on bank deposits.
However, part of the accumulated funds will not be able to help a declining economy. Yesterday, April 7, the Ministry of Finance began selling currency from the NWF. This is due to the existing rule obliging to purchase foreign currency when the price of Russian oil exceeds $ 40 per barrel in constant prices, and to sell when the price is below this level. After the sale of the currency, the proceeds of the ruble will compensate for the shortfall in oil and gas revenues. This should allow to keep budget expenditures at the planned level, not to take them into account.
Such a budget rule allows reserve spending to compensate only for the oil and gas deficit. It is impossible to direct funds to other purposes. This rule was originally conceived as symmetrical - earlier the Ministry of Finance saved up the currency in volumes determined by the formula, periodically resisting calls to raise the cut-off price in order to save less and spend more on stimulating the economy. Now the rule works in the opposite direction. If the Ministry of Finance refuses its obligation, it will lose market confidence in the budget rule.
However, you can expand budget support. In the law on the suspension of certain provisions of the Budget Code signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 1, the government is allowed to increase total budget expenditures this year - by the amount of Central Bank revenues from the sale of Sberbank shares to the government, as well as by the amount of additional revenues from “certain types” of non-oil and gas revenues. The last wording is the new option. It means that the authorities will be able to increase the cost of supporting the economy by the amount of growth of certain types of non-oil and gas revenues, if the total non-oil and gas revenues decline in 2020.
In March this year, the Ministry of Finance reported that there were enough liquid assets of the NWF to cover budget losses from the oil crash - we are talking about falling to the level of $ 25 for up to 10 years. The department noted that the deviation of the national currency from the forecast is 65.7 rubles. per dollar - for each ruble changes the basic oil and gas revenues of the federal annual budget by 70 billion rubles.
Note that the slowdown in the Russian economy is observed against the backdrop of the coronavirus epidemic and a sharp decline in oil prices after the collapse of the OPEC + deal.