Russia: Ruble plunges following U.S. sanctions and emerging markets selloff
The Russian ruble tumbled in August, falling to the lowest levels seen in over two years. On 30 August, the ruble ended the day at 68.0 per USD, down 8.3% from the same day last month. The ruble has fallen a notable 17.9% year-to-date in 2018, weighed on by geopolitical uncertainty. In addition, the ruble was down 15.6% from the same day last year.
August’s plunge was driven by fresh U.S. sanctions on Russia combined with a broad selloff in emerging market assets sparked by Turkey’s currency crisis. New sanctions came into effect on 22 August in response to Russia’s alleged poisoning of an ex-spy in the UK in March, and the United States stated that additional measures could be imposed in 90 days if the country does not give “reliable assurances” that it will not use chemical weapons in the future and allow international inspections—a move Russia is unlikely to agree to. The new sanctions are expected to have a limited direct economic effect other than sparking volatility in financial markets as they chiefly target goods deemed to be linked to national security and given Russia has a low trade exposure to the U.S. However, tougher measures especially targeting banks could inflict more economic pain.