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Running head: HARD TIMES: COMPARING THE RUSSIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS OF 1998 TO THE PRESENT U. S. CRISIS Hard Times: Comparing the Russian Financial Crisis of 1998 to the present U. S. Crisis April 3, 2009 Hard Times: Comparing the Russian Financial Crisis of 1998 to the present U. S. Crisis Introduction The present United States crisis ranks quite high among the most serious and dangerous economic events that severely affect the United States since the times of Great Depression (19930s). The Russian Financial Crisis of 1998 also had a devastating effect not only on Russian economy, but also negatively influenced the economies of other countries.
The essay aims to examine the Russian Financial Crisis and compare it to the present United States Crisis, by examining and evaluating the root causes and consequences of both events, claiming that although these crises occurred in different countries and different time intervals, both of them have much in common, and have serious wide-ranging effects on the economy, the financial sectors, the markets and on other world countries. The Russian Financial Crisis of 1998 vs. present United States Crisis After the USSR has collapsed, Russian Federation pegged its currency, the Russian ruble, to the U.S. dollars in an effort to reduce high levels of inflation. The government seemed to cope with inflation quite effectively, however, by 1998 the country failed to cope with situation and fall into crisis. To a certain extent, this was caused by the Asian financial crisis that takes its roots back to July 1997. The Russian Financial Crisis (also referred to as the Rubble crisis) has stated in August 17, 1998 (Russia: Country Report).
Although it is quite difficult to compare two different countries, it can be said that similar to Russia, the United States economy was affected by the world crisis, which, in its turn, triggered the United States crisis. Also, when examining both crises from a geopolitical point of view, it is possible to conclude that both, the United States and Russian crises have also much in common. First, similar to the subprime crisis, the Russian collapse of 1998 was a geopolitically significant event (Komulainen and Lukkarila). The Russian crisis symbolically marked the end of the post-Cold war and the start of new period in the Russian history. This new geopolitical regime has reached its full blossom by 2009, showing itself in Russian Federation and its foreign and domestic policies. It should be also noted that the global depression of the 190-1930ies, that affected all world countries (and both Russia and the United States are no exception to this rule) and had important consequences on the development of both countries. The period of Great Depression has influenced and significantly changed the external and internal social and political processes of the Russian Federation and the United States, preparing the platform for military and political processes that changed all world countries (Hampel, Schenk and Rick).
Yet, while examining the causes of the Russian Crisis and the present United States Crisis, it should be mentioned that similar to the United States, Russia faced the savings and loan crisis in 1980s (Kaminsky, Lizondo and Reinhart). Yet, unlike the United States, this crisis had no significant effect on the Russian crisis. Instead, one of the most important triggers (excluding the Asian financial crisis) was the sudden and significant drop in oil gas prices. In such a way, the major causes of Russian rubble crisis were as follows: Asian crisis, starting from economic turmoil in Thailand and then embracing all other Asian countries, such as Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong (Komulainen and Lukkarila). As these countries economies were almost collapsed, Russia fall the victim of the circumstances, and its currency weakened. Economic uncertainty and unstable situation scared foreign investors, leading Russia to even worse economic situation. Russia was near collapse and was basically defaulting on its national debt.
Russian currency weakened and it took quite a lot of time to gain confidence in Russian market. The present United States Crisis is different from that of Russian one. The U.S. crisis was caused mostly by a sudden rise in foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies. The crisis was triggered by the events of the late 1990s, and became more serious by 2007, devastating the U.S. economy and influencing all world markets and global financial system (Jaffee).
Unlike Russian rubble crisis of the 1998, the United States crisis was caused my high-risk mortgage loans, speculation, boom in the U.S. housing market, inappropriate and ineffective government policies and the policies of the U.S. banks, credit default swaps, securitization practices, inaccurate credit ratings, high-risk lending and borrowing practices, to mention a few (Hampel, Schenk and Rick). However, both crises had much in common. Both of them to a certain extent, were caused by non-payments. Russian Crisis of 1998 was caused and triggered by non-payment of taxes by manufacturing and energy industries, while the present United States crisis was significantly affected by non-payment of loans and housing bubble. Unlike the Russian rubble crisis, the U.S.
crisis did not force the U.S. government to devalue its currency dramatically. The U.S. government undertook all actions to continue attracting foreign investors, while the Russian government failed in this attempt, and foreign investors flew away from Russia. Both countries in their efforts to stop crisis declared their decision to make an effective restructure of all official domestic currency debt obligations and restructure of their economies. However, it should be noted that unlike Russia, the United States seem to be more effective in its efforts to cope with negative consequences of devastating crisis. Finally, similar to Russian rubble crisis, the present United States crisis had negatively influenced both financial institutions and the financial markets. For example, in result of Russian Crisis of 1998, few major Russian banks (such as Inkombank, one of the largest banks in Russian Federation) had to close their doors (Russia: Country Report).
In the United States, the situation was almost the same, as due to subprime crisis many U.S. banks have suffered significant losses in result of their maturity-mismatched and highly leveraged investments in subprime CDOs and MBS (Jaffee). For example, the management of Bear Stearns had to accept merger proposition to avoid bankruptcy and few major U.S. banks were announced bankrupts. Both crises negatively affected the lives of the citizens. Both Russians and Americans lost over 25% of their net worth due to near-to-collapse economy. However, Russian citizens suffered more, as they faced drastic devaluation of their local currency.
During the Russian and the U.S. crises housing prices had dropped over 20-30% from their pre-crisis peak (Hampel, Schenk and Rick). The financial sectors were also affected, as the crises resulted in panic in financial sectors, forcing foreign investors to take their investments out. In such a way, despite these crises took place in different periods and different countries, they have much in common. Works Cited Hampel, B., M. Schenk and S. Rick.
The U.S. Mortgage Crisis. Causes, Effects and Outlook Including Suggested Credit Union Responses. 31 January 2008. 3 April 2009 . Jaffee, D.
The U.S. Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Issues Raised and Lessons Learned. 2008. 3 April 2009 . Kaminsky, G., S. Lizondo and C. Reinhart.
"Leading Indicators of Currency Crises." IMF staff papers 45.1 (1998). Komulainen, T. and J. Lukkarila. "What Drives Financial Crises in Emerging Markets?" Emerging Markets Review 4 (2003): 248-272. "Russia: Country Report." 1998..
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