Russia vs. All Others (The Foreign Exchange Version)

Across the globe Russia’s President (seemingly for life), Vladimir Putin, is being vilified in news outlets and person-to-person discussions for Russia’s actions towards Crimea and now Ukraine.  Russia has openly defied the US on the issue of Syria, and in recent years effectively annexed a major Shell Oil facility in Siberia.  Russia’s actions in the past few years, and notably in the last 8 months show a real divide between Russia and the rest of the planet.  Yet the Russian people are overwhelmingly in favor of Putin these days;  Approval ratings as high as 83% per an NBC poll just two weeks ago.  How can it be that a leader who is making enemies with much of the outside world can be hailed as great leader inside the country?  The answer is a willingness to believe in lies and the culture that has been built up in the last 15 years of Putin’s rule.  Lies are OK to the Russian people.  They know they are not getting the truth, but they do not care to seek the truth.  Ordinary Russian’s lives have benefited greatly in the last 15 years with average income up a remarkable 10 fold!  So who cares if you are lied to; keep on growing my standard of living and I will conveniently ignore that which does not seem true.

And now we see the same thin in the world of Foreign Exchange trading.  For the last 6 months we see firms and global exchanges reporting smaller and smaller trading volumes.  The major Japanese brokers are down each month.  The global futures exchanges are down month over month for multiple months.  FX volatility measures are at lows we have not seen for 12 years.  Yet miraculously, the Moscow Futures Exchange (MOEX) notes FX volumes up another 15% month over month, and the smattering of Russian brokerage firms large enough to garner any attention are having their largest trading volume months ever!  Self-reporting trading volumes that have grown over 50% in the last 9 months.  So while the rest of the planet experiences sharp retractions, the Russian firms are seeing their highest growth periods ever?

It seems the tactics the the government of Russia have seeped into the commercial structure of the country.  You can take the Russian data out of Russian brokers, but you can not take the “Russia” out of the data.



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