Subnational Capital Markets in Developing Countries: From Theory to Practice

By John Petersen; Mila Freire | Go to book overview

Chapter 31
Eastern and Central Europe
Russian Federation

Survivors face the consequences of early excesses and crises,
and display newfound discipline
.

Asad Alam, Stepan Titov, John Petersen


Lessons

In the early 1990s regional and local governments in the Rus-
sian Federation borrowed heavily and short term to finance
their substantial operating deficits. This rush to market occurred
in a volatile macroeconomic environment, with heavy spending
on subsidies and on the promise of large transfers from the
central government. The essentially unregulated financial mar-
kets grew rapidly and haphazardly until the crisis of 1998. There
also was some foreign borrowing as the cities of Moscow and
St. Petersburg, for example, shifted to eurobond borrowings in
an attempt to reduce debt service needs. However, this borrow-
ing activity was based on a false premise that the exchange
risks could be borne.

The events of 1998 showed the risks of the headlong rush into
markets. Foreign borrowing was attractive with the fixed ex-
change rate, but the devaluation of the ruble in the wake of the

-571-

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