Presidential bombshell. News in January and early February was dominated by President Putin’s Federal Assembly Address and the subsequent changes in the cabinet. The President committed to additional social spending of US$31 billion over the next four years.
Government buys Sberbank stake. The Ministry of Finance has announced that the National Wealth Fund (NWF) will buy the Central Bank of Russia’s (CBR) controlling stake in Sberbank. The action will release funds from the NWF to finance spending promises.
President Trump has emerged relatively unscathed from the gauntlet of the impeachment process. He has declared the outcome a political triumph, but only time will tell. For the Democratic Party, the impeachment effort is an undeniable failure on many levels.
Cautious opening to investors. Turkmenistan is now actively engaging with international investors, including the holding of showcase events, as it tries to attract more foreign investment. It is also trying to expand trade partnerships and has indicated a desire to join the WTO. President Berdymukhamedov has declared the slogan for 2020 as “Turkmenistan – The Home of Neutrality”.
Peace deal talks inch forward. Amidst a mixture of threats and concessions, the peace talks between the US and the Taliban continue in Doha. This is the most serious effort for a deal since the conflict started 18 years ago.
Economic growth strengthened in 2019. GDP expanded by 4.5% in 2019, up from 4.1% in 2018. The decline in the oil sector contribution, due to several maintenance disruptions, was more than offset by the better performance in retail, construction and transport sectors.
Same policies, new executives. The new Russian government consists of about half of the previous team. Its average age has fallen from 55 to 45. The changes have been made to better execute the National Projects than its predecessor as well as to deliver President Putin’s promise of higher social spending. The trend is to appoint technocrats who can efficiently execute existing policy.
Case ready to go to trial. The Investigative Committee has concluded its investigation of fraud accusations against the management of Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP) and delivered the materials to the defendants. The allegation has been downgraded from fraud to embezzlement, but the defendants insist they are innocent of both charges.
This is the first report in a three-part review covering the consumer sectors in the five Central Asian states. Part 2 will review the Caucuses countries and part three will focus on Ukraine and Belarus. These reports will provide an overview of the trends in the major consumer sectors and identify the major and emerging themes in each country. Macro-Advisory provides more detailed strategic and due-diligence analysis covering all of the identified themes.
This is the second part of our Preview 2020 series. Part 1 of the series considered the oil price outlook while Part 3 will look at domestic politics. We will issue Part 3 after President Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly, which will take place on January 15th.