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US residents hold 8% of Russian sovereign debt

Since the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation doesn’t provide public data on Russian sovereign debt holders, the Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA) bases its estimates on data from national banks (aggregated by the International Monetary Fund), foreign ministries and government funds, and information about individual holders (aggregated by Bloomberg).

Possible introduction of fresh sanctions against purchasers of Russian sovereign debt (a bill on further sanctions was introduced in the US Senate in early August) may reduce the investor base and, respectively, increase the average borrowing costs for the Russian government. Based on certain assumptions, ACRA is of the opinion that the demand for Russian sovereign debt may drop by 8–10% against the level of early 2018. The debt sanctions will mostly affect the behavior of investors in the USA, and, to a much lesser degree, in other jurisdictions. With a high degree of certainty, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund GPF can be excluded from the number of potential non-US holders of Russian sovereign debt.

External demand for Russian sovereign bonds has already decreased after the introduction of previous sanctions in April, 2018; the biggest decline was in ruble-denominated federal loan bonds (OFZs). As estimated by ACRA analysts, a 8-12% decline in demand for all types of debt (mostly from non-residents) will lead in the long run to a 0.5-0.8 pp growth in equilibrium rates of ruble-denominated government borrowings.

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