Russia’s central bank is set to make its most anticipated decision on the benchmark lending rate in years. After a week in which the rouble fell to a two-year low against the dollar and the Turkish central bank sharply lifted interest rates to stem a currency crisis, investors anxious about emerging market turmoil are turning their attention to Friday’s announcement by Elvira Nabiullina, the bank’s governor. Ms Nabiullina opened the door to a rate rise last week, potentially the first after three years of cuts, in the face of geopolitical tensions including US sanctions on Russia and turmoil in emerging markets.
“There aren’t many factors in favour of cutting rates. There are a significant number of factors in favour of keeping them [at 7.25 per cent] and a few new factors have appeared that let us put the question of raising rates on the table,” she said. Turkey, whose lira is the worst-performing EM currency this year, raised rates by 625 basis points to 24 per cent on Thursday to stem the currency’s decline. The move came despite pressure from the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees high rates as contributing to, rather than curbing, inflation and who on Thursday said they were a “tool of exploitation”.
Now the Kremlin is putting Ms Nabiullina under unprecedented pressure to cut the benchmark rate — which stands at 7.25 per cent — to help stimulate growth to pay for President Vladimir Putin’s ambitious spending targets.