Here’s a lesson about various ways to spot a currency that is in deep-deep trouble.

  1. Crackdown on “currency speculators”
  2. Accusations of foreign interference
  3. Measures to stop capital flight
  4. Repatriation amnesty in hopes money will return home
  5. Currency action itself
  6. Currency controls

Ruble Analysis

Let’s check those six measures starting with today’s report Putin Threatens Crackdown on Currency Speculators.

1. Putin Blames Currency Speculators

Vladimir Putin threatened to crack down on speculators against the rouble as he called on Russia to put its economic house in order to fight what he called an attempt by outside enemies to bring the country to its knees. “We have asked the central bank to take measures to make sure that speculators can no longer take advantage,” Russia’s president said in a speech on Thursday. “We know who those people are, and we have the means to rein them in. It’s time to use these instruments.”

2. Putin Blames Foreigners and Plays Hitler Card

“Hitler with his misanthropic ideas tried to destroy Russia and throw us back behind the Urals. Just remember how that ended,” Mr Putin said. “If [Russia’s annexation of Crimea] had not happened, they would have found another excuse for holding Russia back and Russia down. This has been happening for centuries — every time the west thinks Russia is getting too strong, they use these policies.”

3. Measures to Stop Capital Flight

“We need to reverse the history of capital flight from our country, we need to end this era,” Mr Putin said.

4. Amnesty for All

Putin promised an amnesty for offshore capital returning home, saying Russians bringing back money from abroad would not have to prove where they got it from.

5. Currency Action

Since July 2008 the Ruble had gone from 24Rub-per-US$ to 54Rub-per-US$. That is a decline of 55.55%. In the last six months alone, the Ruble has gone from 34Rub-per-US$ to 54Rub-per-US$. That is a 6-month decline of 37%.

6. Currency controls

Anton Siluanov, finance minister, reiterated the government’s commitment to abstain from currency controls after Mr Putin’s speech, but said that the government and the central bank would “co-ordinate” the actions of exporters on the foreign exchange market to reduce their collective influence on the rouble exchange rate.

Does that sound like the start of currency controls to you? It does to me.

If the US and Iran come to agreement ending sanctions on Iran, more Iranian oil will flow on the markets, likely pressuring prices further (assuming all other factors remain the same). A slowing global economy also pressures oil prices.

In turn, falling oil prices pressures the Ruble.

As bad as things look for Russia on the Ruble front, there is potential for things to get much worse.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock