Imaginary outflows

Despite the alarming news from Europe presentations Russian monetary authorities to look more and more panicky, although the pain points for which they are passed, well known for many years. Heads of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank with admirable tenacity, like a spell, mention the same set of symptoms, which still can not develop and can not hit a weak Russian economic body.

The main problem areas are usually referred to two — the fall in oil prices and capital outflows. With the recent capital outflows associated instruction of President Viktor Zubkov. But the price of oil fluctuates in the same corridor for several months, and as for the outflow of capital, it is generally a statistical fiction, the constant use of which is poorly rational explanation.

However, we will try to clarify this question, because the Russian economy so arranged that while oil prices are high, then the index of "capital flight" is also expected to grow steadily and to raise a new batch of panic screams.

On what basis can we say that "capital flight" — a statistical fiction, which has no relation to the processes of the real movement of capital between Russia and the global economy?

The fact is that if a country has a permanent seat (chronic) the excess of exports over imports (trade surplus and, more broadly, a surplus balance of payments on current account), then the effect of "capital flight" appears automatically, regardless the will and desire of foreign economic activity. This happens as follows. If, for example, the country's exports of $ 500 billion, imports — $ 300 billion, its trade surplus of $ 200 billion That is, the country exported goods and services worth $ 500 billion and imported — only $ 300 billion and so it and there is a positive balance of trade. But it must be borne in mind that the performance of exports and imports — is not only the valuation of the physical volume of goods and services received by the international exchange, but also their money's worth.

Exports to $ 500 billion means that after the sale of goods and services to foreign buyers this amount to the bank accounts of exporters received $ 500 billion in foreign currency — currency export earnings. Imports of $ 300 billion means that the company bought from the importers of exporters of foreign exchange of $ 300 billion, then this amount of goods and services bought foreign-made, and then sold them to consumers to their country's national currency.

Moreover, from $ 500 billion export revenue remained unused $ 200 billion, and are settled in the form of bank balances. Here is underutilized balance of $ 200 billion and is interpreted as the outflow of capital, although no capital from the country was running out. It's very easy to imagine, if we assume that imports would be equal to exports — then trade balance would be zero, and about the "capital flight" no one would have stuttered.

Due to this fact raises another question: why imports less exports, and, in the case of Russia, this lag is a chronic, because it is a constant gap between imports and exports, and leads to the accumulation of large balances in foreign currency? Why importing firms do not buy the whole volume of foreign exchange proceeds received by the exporting firms?

On this question there are many answers. The first answer is this. Sometimes it happens that the growth of income of domestic consumers is far behind the growth of foreign prices. This gap is clearly seen as in the whole of the Russian economy and the oil and gas industry in particular, which are the main Russian exporters. For example, in August 2010, when the world price of oil began to rise, it increased from $ 75/bar., To $ 125/bar. in April 2011, ie by 67%. During the same period, the average monthly wage in the Russian economy increased from 20573 rubles. up to 22559 rub., ie by 9.7%. At the same time, the industry's "production of energy minerals" salary in August 2010 was 46,860 rubles., In April — 48502 rubles. (Up 3.5%).

Later, when the price of oil fell and varied range of $ 108/bar. — $ 118/bar. and $ 103/bar. — $ 113/bar., Exceeding, however, the level of August 2010 by 44% — 50%, wages continued to stagnate. In October 2011, it amounted to 23,350 rubles., An increase compared with April by 3.5%, and since August of last year — by 13.5%. In the fuel and energy sector wages reached 55,000 rubles., An increase compared with April to 13.4%, and in August 2010 — by 17.3%. Foreign currency earnings of the main Russian exporters has increased dramatically, and the income of employees in the workplace, ie, Russian consumers — not really. Accordingly, the supply of foreign currency has increased, and the demand for it has remained weak, which caused the growth of its residues.

The second answer, which explains the low demand for foreign currency and, consequently, a smaller volume of imports is quite simple and clear. This — the preferences and tastes of consumers. Although world production, it would seem, is able to satisfy even the most refined and exacting demands, this is not always possible, and the user passes by weight of the goods and services because they simply do not need it.

The third answer — more applicable to the situation in Russia — this division is the mass of commodities imported into two segments, one of which is conventionally called "white" assembly, and the other — the "yellow" assembly. The "white" good build quality, but its price is very high for the majority of Russian consumers. Therefore, imports of goods belonging to this segment is not very large. "Yellow" assembly is relatively cheaper but much lower quality, which also deters consumers.

The fourth answer — because of the uncertainty in the global and Russian markets, many individuals prefer to keep a portion of their income in the form of foreign currency, instead of what would have to spend part of this income on foreign goods and services.

The fifth response — similar to the fourth — is that legal entities, because of the same situation of uncertainty prefer to accumulate currency, instead of using it for the purchase of imported equipment and materials and, thus, to expand production in Russia. However, they can understand — invest in investment projects now dangerous, and it is better to ride out the tough times with a large cash reserve.

In addition, many Russian companies actively borrowed the funds in foreign markets before the crisis in 2008, will have to return them, so how can a debt refinancing in the difficult current situation is not necessary. And for the repayment of debts need great tools that they accumulate.

And finally, the sixth answer — we did there is government regulation of imports to support domestic producers. By this regulation apply customs duties and quotas on imports of certain types of products (quotas on meat and sugar), and outright bans on the import of certain product groups (for example, a ban on the import of vegetables in the summer of 2011), or even low bandwidth customs inspection points . All these measures are seriously cool importers and reduce the demand on available cash balances in foreign currency.

Thus, due to the simultaneous action of these circumstances our economic export revenue has consistently exceeded costs of imports, the difference is accumulated in the form of currency or monetary balances in bank accounts or in the form of notes, which causes the effect of "capital flight." Of course, that if the restrictions on imports, which we qu
oted above, would be removed, it would have increased the size and the trade balance would be zero.

For completeness, it should be noted that the same effect would (God forbid), lower prices for oil and natural gas. Then it would be nothing to leak, even in the form of a statistical fiction.

That is, the problem of "capital flight" is not a problem, since no outflow does not exist. Instead, there is a creation of foreign exchange reserves by companies, households and monetary authorities, which caused both by objective reasons (for example, the need to repay debts in the future, or a desire to hedge against adverse currency fluctuations) and subjective — government regulation or the tastes and preferences of consumers.

For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that cross-border movement of capital still exists. Once it has nothing to do with the activities of Russian exporters and importers and to the state of the current account of balance of payments. But it is his leaders have in mind the monetary authorities, stock brokers and bank analysts, when they talk about inflow / outflow of capital. This capital resources are all sorts of international investors — banks and investment funds, pension funds and insurance companies, which are invested in securities of different countries, including Russia. It is their buying / selling almost completely form the price of securities on the stock market, and in many ways — the ruble on the Russian currency market.

It's really cross-border movement of capital, so that if he comes ruble exchange rates and securities are rising and if the leaves, then falling. However, this effect on the Russian economy of international investors is over, because our stock market is too small to have an impact on the real sector, and foreign exchange reserves of the monetary authorities are large enough to smooth out unwanted currency fluctuations.

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