Russia-2022: Macro Stability to Be Prioritized

In spite of the raging pandemic, the year 2021 would have posted strong gains if it were not for the escalation in geopolitical risks associated with Russia’s stand-off with Ukraine. This sharp increase in geopolitical uncertainty erased a significant part of the earlier gains posted in Russia’s stock market and raised the spectre of lingering fragilities and unease over the course of 2022. Indeed, a lot of the risks that are likely to feature in 2022 were amply revealed in the course of 2021 – including the energy crisis/shortages, further waves of the pandemic and changes in the tax regime.

Nevertheless, there may be important drivers for Russia’s markets in the coming year, with the overall macroeconomic backdrop expected to demonstrate decent growth and inflation declining starting from the second quarter. On the back of a moderation in inflationary pressures the CBR is likely to start lowering its key rate in the second half of next year, with the macroeconomic fundamentals likely allowing some fiscal expansion to support growth.

Overall, there is unlikely to be a significant economic policy shift in Russia away from prioritizing reserve accumulation and macroeconomic stability. In the second half of 2021 the Russian government ruled to raise the threshold for the National Wellbeing Fund from 7% of GDP to 10% of GDP – thus in effect raising the scope for accumulating reserves vs spending them. However, with the relatively high level of oil and gas prices the 10% of GDP threshold could be exceeded in 2023 in line with our current baseline oil price forecast. In this case the spending of these excess revenues to boost the economy could deliver an additional growth impulse.

The reigning paradigm nonetheless will continue to favour macroeconomic stability, which likely means more rate increases in the beginning of next year from the CBR and continued adherence to tight fiscal policy. This is unlikely to change in favour of a pro-growth policy stance until a significant de-escalation of geopolitical risks takes place. The pandemic factor may yet again prove to be more persistent than expected and raise the need for support measures as has been the case during the new waves of the Covid pandemic this year.

Given the developments at the end of 2021, the balance of risks and drivers going in to next year appears to be tilted towards caution, with a drastic resolution in the geopolitical uncertainty unlikely in the very near term. Nonetheless, the may be a number of drivers that could lighten up Russia’s investment landscape next year, in particular:

  • Ongoing economic recovery
  • Lowering of the key rate and inflation in H2 2022
  • High commodity prices supporting exports, fiscal accounts and the rouble
  • Consumer confidence recovering after the blows during the pandemic period
  • Stabilization of geopolitical risks in case Russia and the West enter into a “negotiations mode”

Key risks in 2022 will include:

  • Escalation in tensions between Russia and Ukraine
  • Energy crisis and fuel shortages exacerbating geopolitical tensions
  • New waves of the pandemic
  • EM pressures on the back of increasing debt burdens
  • High inflation proving more resilient and triggering a more aggressive tightening by the Fed

The “black swans” of 2022 could come from the geopolitical domain, but also emerge on the back of such systemic vulnerabilities in the world economy as climate change, disruptions in energy supplies and the green transition. One of the factors that may accentuate systemic risks is the labour shortage factor – something that the world economy and Russia in particular are facing in areas such as cybersecurity, IT and health care.

In this respect, one of the trends that became pronounced in 2021 and that is unlikely to disappear in 2022 is labour shortage in some of the key sectors of Russia’s economy, most notably in the IT sector. Other sectors where labour was lacking in supply were construction, agriculture, transportation and other services affected by the reduction in the inflow of migrants from Russia’s “near abroad” during the pandemic. The labour deficit if it persists into 2022 is likely to start to deliver more palpable inflationary effects and negative impact on economic growth.

As for the plans of Russian households for 2022, it is noteworthy that 22% of those polled by “” service declared that they plan some IT training next year, with 8% already having completed additional IT training earlier and 46% ready to consider such training in the near future. The IT sector is considered by Russians to be one of the most attractive employers, with 33% of Russians pointing to high wage levels and 24% noting the high demand for labour in this sector. Overall, according to Hays, 56% of Russians are considering changing their job in the span of one year, while 66% of Russia’s employers are pointing to the lack of needed labour/specialists as one of the key difficulties in managing human resources. Headhunter, and other Russian headhunters are likely to continue to benefit in this environment.

From our partner RIAC

Yaroslav Lissovolik
Yaroslav Lissovolik
Founder, BRICS+ Analytics contact: yl[at]