NEW YORK (BBH FX Strategy) -- We do not expect today's outsized declines in Russian assets to be the start of a trend and would be inclined to take the recent moves as an opportunity to establish relative value trades within the emerging markets.In the foreign currency space, we think the Russian Ruble (RUB) can outperform amongst high-beta currencies including the Indian rupee, Turkish lira and South African rand during this pullback in risk appetite. The key difference is the current account balance and oil prices, which are likely to remain supported by geopolitical tensions. Moreover, the RUB should benefit in the short term from the gradual pricing out of the political risk premium and maybe even a reversal of some outflows as the country gets back to business as usual.
Siluanov appears to be a voice of reason in the Kremlin, but it's too bad he has little political power. As for his predecessor and stanch fiscal hawk Alexei Kudrin, we very much doubt he will play any significant role in the "new" administration, despite Putin's encouraging words recently. Our best guess is that he will wait in the sidelines until something resembling a consolidated opposition is able to form. We therefore agree with the assessment by Fitch ratings as it has threatened to cut Russia's long-term ratings on the basis of the deteriorating fiscal accounts and growing dependency on oil. Russia is a classic case of high tides hiding the rocks (and those who are swimming naked). Still, our own sovereign ratings model shows Russia as a solid BBB+ credit, and so downgrade risk to Fitch's BBB rating does not appear elevated right now. If we experience a sharp decline in oil prices, however, Russia will be materially affected.