As the scale of funds being pulled out of Russia became clearer this week, market speculation has increased that the government may have to impose some form of capital control to halt the flight of investment.
The outflows are likely to reach $65-70 billion, much higher than previous estimates, according to Andrei Klepach, the deputy economy minister. The Bank of Russia last week ruled out capital controls “at this time.”
Controls on the free flow of capital are usually imposed by emerging economies at great risk of losing investment flows because of an economic crisis. They can mean everything from limiting how much money can be moved out of a country to higher taxes on investments outside the country.
In recent years, countries which have employed capital controls to deal with investment flight include India, Brazil and Thailand.
While it is possible Russia may employ similar tools if capital outflow continues to worsen, most economists and analysts are discounting it at the moment.
“They know that this will undermine the real economy ultimately,” Tim Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank, told CNBC. “Russians are clever at devising schemes to get around this kind of thing,” he added.
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