The Central Bank of Russia raised interest rates by 650 basis points on Monday to 17%, after bumping rates 100 basis points last week. Both efforts did nothing to stop the bleeding.
The central bank can't control oil prices and that's what's undermining the ruble," said Jan Rudolph, director of sovereign risk at IHS Global Insight in an interview with TheStreet. "Oil prices and the ruble move in tandem and there is little else the Russians can do. They've depleted some of their reserves to put the brakes on the ruble and now they've raised interest rates, which is a double-edged sword so it has created more panic."
Russia can raise interest rates all it wants, but the country isn't equipped to handle low oil prices. With no oil rally on the horizon and OPEC refusing to cut production, Russia's economic turmoil is set to worsen.
"So far, the central bank has responded with aggressive interest rate hikes and currency intervention, but to little effect," said Martin Janicko, a Prague-based Moody's Analytics economist in a note. "Depreciation and capital outflows have continued because Russians expect further oil price declines and a worsening business environment."
Aside from oil prices, Russia could face additional hurdles if the Federal Reserve's looming interest rate hike comes sooner than expected. Analysts say the central bank could remove its "considerable time" language from its statement at the Wednesday FOMC meeting, signaling a faster policy shift.
Higher interest rates in the United States make emerging markets and Russia less attractive for investors, creating a similar capital outflow crisis seen during the beginning of 2014.