Russia Finds Bitcoin and Crypto Prices at a Premium as US Asset Sell-off Continues
Russia sells off its US Assets, Considers Moving Away From Trading in Dollars as the Ruble Falls by 8% in Days, Bitcoin Stands at a Premium
As the pressure of newly legislated sanctions grips harder at the economy of the Russian Federation, the country has been selling off its share of US Securities. But while this sell-off is taking place, it has no intentions of shutting down US companies that operate within Russia, according to its Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov.
“We have lowered to the minimum level and will further decrease our investment in the U.S. economy, in the U.S. securities,” announced Siluanov during a conference, this was before he had announced that they plan to trade more with rubles and other currencies, rather than the Dollar.
“Eventually, this will negatively impact U.S. investors. But we are not planning now any limitations such as shutting down McDonald's,” Siluanov quipped.
Siluanov went on to refer to the US Dollar as ‘Risky', according to Russia Today. “We have significantly reduced our investment in US assets. In fact, the dollar, which is considered to be the international currency, becomes a risky tool for payments,” Siluanov said.
Alongside this news, the Russian Federation has also placed its support firmly behind Erdogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, siding with him in the plan to begin trading in local currencies instead of Dollars. According to Reuters:
“The Kremlin said on Monday that Russia favored bilateral trade with all countries in their national currencies, rather than the dollar, but that the idea needed detailed work before being implemented…
Asked about Erdogan’s proposal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia had been pushing for such an arrangement with all countries. He said the issue had been raised on more than one occasion during bilateral talks between Turkey and Russia.”
Over the course of 2018, Russia's Ruble has been steadily depreciating compared to the USD, falling by 30% since April, while sliding a further 8% over the last week, with the Dollar being worth up to 70 Rubles, increasing dramatically from 50 Rubles earlier this year.
Bitcoin and most cryptos are at a premium in Russia, with one BTC worth around $200 more in RUB than USD. Much like Bitcoin, Ethereum is slated with a certain premium on its value as well, while being held in reasonable volumes by local crypto exchanges that openly trade in rubles.
Currently, inflation in Russia remains at a manageable 2.5%, this is in spite of the recent Ruble slump, but while the inflation is solid, underlying growth simply can't keep up; standing presently at 1.8%.
All the while, blockchain, initially treated with a certain level of suspicion within Russia, is being readily adopted, by the government at the very least, this being due to the prospects of using cryptocurrencies as a means of side-stepping economic sanctions.
This same strategy is being rapidly taken on by the Iranian government. It too has been placed under renewed economic sanctions as the Trump administration walked away from the previously agreed nuclear deals from the Obama administration. Iran, it appears is involved in some level of consultation with Russia, but not full-fledged collaboration.
Whether Russia holds any amount of cryptocurrency as a form of hedge remains unknown, but at the beginning of the year, some level of crypto transaction was conducted between the Turkish and Russian Governments. While Iran and Russia discussed plans to start trading in crypto this May.
Among a number of other blockchain related developments, plans were drafted and announced in spring 2018 for Russia's SWIFT to start running on blockchain technology.
This is one way in which we are seeing cryptocurrencies and blockchain, as a whole, is used to disrupt what was once perceived to be the international order for generations. While the old East and West battles of brinksmanship resurface, we see blockchain technology entering, not just as some indirect battlefield, but as some form of technological edge with which one side can tip the balance.