BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2018/03

The largest gains came from exchange rate fluctuations and gold reserves. Increase due to transactions was 23 billion dollars. Under the current monetary policy, the Central Bank of Russia abstains from intervention in forex markets and therefore direct interventions did not cause any changes in currency reserves. The CBR, however, did buy on behalf of the finance ministry last year roughly 15 billion dollars in foreign currency to soften the effects of oil price volatility on budget revenues and ruble exchange rate. Currency reserves also increased due to Russian banks' repayments of foreign currency liquidity that the CBR provided them earlier.

At the beginning of the year, Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves were valued at 433 billion dollars: 77 billion dollars in gold reserves, 10 billion dollars in SDR and IMF obligations and the rest 347 billion dollars in other reserves. Russia's oil fund savings account for over 50 billion dollars of the other reserves. Most of Russia's reserves are held in dollar- or euro-denominated assets. Chinese yuan assets represent about 0.1 % of currency holdings. Based on common rules of thumb, Russia's currency reserves appear quite solid. They are sufficient to cover about 17 months of imports or five times its short-term foreign debt.