Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 106

The Kremlin’s first reaction to the latest crisiswas to look for outside help and to appeal to the IMF and the G-7 for anemergency aid to shore up the ruble. Although under strong internationalpressure to help Russia out, IMF leaders made it clear that the Fund doesnot have that kind of money. The Economist’s bureau chief in Washington toldthe BBC that the IMF has between US$10 and US$15 billion in disposablefunds. After that, however, it will begin to run out of money itself. Thefact that Russia is a high strategic concern for the White House–andCongress the main obstacle to increased funding for the IMF–may enable theIMF to use the Russian crisis to draw US attention to the Fund’s ownshortage of funds. If this strategy looks as if it will work, the IMF islikely to go on playing down the severity of Russia’s present crisis–atleast in public. (BBC World Service, June 3) There is widespreadapprehension, though, that, were the Russian economy to collapse, therecould be disastrous repercussions for the outside world as well. The falloutfor Eastern Europe’s emerging markets became evident earlier last week, whenthe decline of the Russian stock market provoked a 9 percent fall inPoland’s main share index. Widespread alarm is focusing on the danger that,were the ruble to be devalued, the patience of the long-suffering Russianpopulation might finally snap and provoke political as well as economicupheaval.