Putin sees strong Russian Economy, but advisers disagree
Though the president depicted an open and stable economy, senior officials acknowledged slow growth and the flight of foreign investors.
President Vladimir V. Putin did his best to paint a rosy picture of the Russian economy in a speech to business leaders on Thursday, saying the country remains “open to the world” and has a plan for growth in spite of American and European sanctions.
Russia is well prepared to hold out against hard times, he said, because of its still-sizable foreign currency reserves of about $460 billion.
Russia will rely on its reserves to substitute for foreign lending, Mr. Putin said, while stimulating domestic agriculture to put food on the country’s tables in place of Western grocery imports the Kremlin itself banned in tit-for-tat sanctions.
“Yes, we see strong fluctuations on the currency market,” Mr. Putin said. “But I will underscore the most important thing: The fundamental factors supporting stability are very strong, very reliable. This is a nearly deficit-free budget, significant reserves and strong current account balance,” he said.
The ruble, wobbly in the best of times, dropped to its lowest level against the dollar since the hyperinflation of the early 1990s, before rallying a bit this week. And Russia’s stock market is down about 3 percent this year.
Elvira S. Nabiullina, the head of the central bank, rued that after just completing an investor-friendly overhaul of the system for clearing stock market trades, there were currently few foreign investors to make use of it.
“For all this to work like a financial center,” Russia also needs investors, Ms. Nabiullina said.