Friday 9 January 2015

Putin's Popularity Is Much Stronger Than the Ruble

- by Adam Chandler. Dec 16, 2014

There's an old Russian proverb that goes, "The economy is a good servant, but a bad master." Apparently, the saying doesn't apply to Vladimir Putin. The Russian ruble is currently in the midst of an historic landslide; Russia's central bank jacked interest rates up nearly seven points on Tuesday to counter the currency's two-day, 20-percent fall. And yet today also brought news that the Russian president had emerged from a public-opinion poll as the country's "Man of the Year"—for the fifteenth straight year.

Tuesday's emergency, middle-of-the-night surge in interest rates is Russia's sharpest hike since 1998, just a year before Russian pollsters and news outlets first honored Putin with the "Man of the Year" honorific. Just how bad is the economic situation in #Russia? The Economist christened today's events "Russia's Black Tuesday." "It's a pretty bad situation," one analyst told CNBC. "The only place worse off is Venezuela." An emerging-market strategist told Bloomberg, “I am speechless.”

But Russians aren't necessarily blaming Putin for the dire economic situation. Some analysts have argued that the ruble's crash may only strengthen Putin, especially if growing international isolation produces a surge of nationalism in the country. As Russia's RT recently put it, paraphrasing the president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, "the people’s love for Putin was a manifestation of their love for Russia."

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