from MacroScope:

Putin faces the music

By Mike Peacock
December 18, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow

With a deep recession looming and the nose-diving rouble poised to push inflation through the roof, Russia’s Vladimir Putin faces the music at his end-of-year news conference when he will field questions from a studio audience as well as television viewers.

from The Great Debate:

Vladimir Putin in jeopardy on all sides as Russia’s economy stumbles

By John Lloyd
December 18, 2014

Russian President Putin is seen on a screen during his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow

MOSCOW – What a difference a plunging ruble makes. A few short days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin was a strategic genius, outplaying Western leaders everywhere – in the Middle East, in China, and especially in Ukraine. Today, he's the destroyer of his country and his political life could be in jeopardy.

from Breakingviews:

Russia’s foreign banks have varying pain barriers

December 17, 2014

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

from MacroScope:

The only way is down?

By Mike Peacock
December 17, 2014

A man walks out of a building past a board showing currency exchange rates in Moscow

No further dramatic interventions by the Russian authorities overnight with the result that the rouble has opened five percent weaker against the dollar in Moscow.

from The Great Debate:

Strong or weak, bully or buffoon? Will the real Russia please stand up?

By Michael Kofman
December 17, 2014

Russia's President Putin speaks during a commemoration of the Hermitage's 250th anniversary at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

The West has been unable to develop a coherent strategic policy toward Russia. There is little agreement on what Russia is and how to deal with it, too much speculation about what President Vladimir Putin will or will not do.

from Breakingviews:

Rouble free fall throws Russia into ugly spiral

December 16, 2014

The Central Bank of Russia was successful for about two hours. Its overnight decision to hike the main interest rate from 10.5 percent to 17 percent initially shocked markets enough to arrest the rouble’s fall after the currency sank almost 12 percent on Dec. 15. But the Russian currency quickly resumed its slide, smashing record lows – as if the central bank hadn’t moved at all. That leaves policymakers with few sensible short-term options. Further out, only an end to the Ukrainian stand-off and related Western sanctions or sharply higher oil prices could soothe markets. Neither is likely to happen soon.

from MacroScope:

Russian currency crisis

By Mike Peacock
December 16, 2014

Russia's Central Bank Governor Nabiullina applauds during the VTB Capital "Russia Calling!" Investment Forum in Moscow

After the central bank dramatically raised interest rates by 6.5 percentage points to 17 percent overnight, Russia has given up any pretence that it is not in the grip of a currency crisis.

from The Great Debate:

In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell

By Strobe Talbott
December 16, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi

The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders. 

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Ukraine’s frozen war brings dramatic changes to world economy

By Anatole Kaletsky
December 12, 2014

Pro-Russian separatists from the Chechen "Death" battalion take part in a training exercise in the territory controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic

The “day of silence” observed this week by the Ukrainian army and its pro-Russian rebel opponents was an event of enormous economic importance for global economics as well as geopolitics.

from Morning Bid with David Gaffen:

The Putin death cross

December 12, 2014

What do we call the moment when the  Russian ruble and a barrel of West Texas crude intersect? How about the Putin death cross? (Credit to Reuters Americas markets editor Dan Burns on this one).