Russian Central Bank spent $58 billion backing Ruble (Update1)

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Russian Central Bank Spent $58 Billion Backing Ruble (Update1)

By Alex Nicholson and Maria Levitov

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — Russia’s central bank spent $57.5 billion defending the ruble in September and October, Chairman Sergey Ignatiev said.

Why would they ‘defend’ the ruble? Maybe they ‘defend’ it selectively, via transactions with ‘insiders’ moving from rubles to dollars?

Russia held 45 percent of its reserves in U.S. dollars, 44 percent in euros, 10 percent in pounds and about 1 percent in yen on Nov. 1, Ignatiev, said in the lower house of parliament in Moscow today.

“Russia ensures the stability of its currency, given the fundamental indicators of our economy,” Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told lawmakers today. The amount of reserves ensures “a firm foundation for macroeconomic stability, for stability of the national currency,” he added.

Looks like I’m wrong on suspecting insider conversion. Sorry!!!

Russia’s international reserves stood at $475.4 billion as of Nov. 7, the third-biggest after China’s and Japan’s. They have fallen $122.7 billion since Aug. 8 as the central bank shored up the ruble. The bank buys and sells currency to keep it within a trading band against a dollar-euro basket to limit the impact of exchange-rate fluctuations on the economy.

Right, that’s the reason…

Ignatiev also said that the central bank reduced its holdings of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, which are held by Russian oil funds that are part of the reserves, to $20.9 billion on Nov. 1 from $65.6 billion on Jan. 1.

Explains some of the spread widening.

Fannie and Freddie were “taken under state control” in the U.S. in September, guaranteeing their reliability, Ignatiev said. The bank isn’t currently selling bonds of the two U.S. mortgage- finance companies, he said.

Right, not even if an insider wants to buy them with rubles.