Moscow exchange offices had a plethora of clients over the past weekend who wanted to have their rubles exchanged for US dollars. The people were certain that the dollar rate would skyrocket against the background of the current crisis. Many depositors decided to close their accounts in banks and convert their ruble savings to foreign currency. To crown it all, it was rumored that the ruble would loose its value again, like it happened in 1998, and one American dollar would thus cost 40 rubles (the current exchange rate is 26.3 rubles per dollar).
Experts say that this way of saving cash may play a dirty trick on many Russians. It is highly unlikely for the Bank of Russia to send the ruble plummeting, although specialists do not exclude such a possibility.
The dollar rate dropped 20 kopecks during the morning tender on October 20. However, many exchange offices in Moscow displayed their own exchange rate for the dollar, which was higher than the official rate of the Bank of Russia. Currency exchange offices were purchasing the dollar at 26.5 and even 27 rubles, and were selling it at the rate of 28.5 rubles per dollar. The official rate of the US currency dropped to 26.05 rubles the same day.
The Russian government rejected Tuesday an opportunity for the ruble to devaluate. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov said that there was no devaluation planned.
The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper decided to investigate the rumor of the imminent ruble devaluation, which made so many people panic. As it turned out, the first message on the subject was made by Georgia online news website, which referred to Reuters. Needless to say that no such news story was found on the Reuters website. The above-mentioned Georgian website posted the message with an intention to spread havoc on the Russian Internet.
“The Central Bank of Russia has already wasted $70 billion. Russia’s reserves have their limits. The foreign capital will flow out of Russia that is doomed to collapse,” the message from Georgia online said. The text of the news story shows that it was written with anti-Russian purposes. The article ends with a gloomy forecast: “The ruble rate is expected to collapse in three days, and Russians would see the real numbers in currency exchange offices very soon.”
Several Russian news agencies bought into the hoax, released several similar news stories and referred to Reuters as well.
Thousands of Russians have already realized that they should have trusted their own reason when they rushed to exchange their ruble savings for dollars.
If the Russian ruble loses 60 percent of its value, as the fake news messages said, it would mean a complete disaster for the Russian economy. The majority of Russians would immediately try to close their bank accounts, which would trigger the collapse of the national financial system.
In the meantime, the US dollar continues to grow against world’s major currencies. The euro currently costs 1.35 dollars. According to experts’ estimates, the dollar will be growing for about six months.