(This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts
coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine)
MOSCOW, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Russia's current account
surplus more than doubled year-on-year to $225.7 billion in
January-November from $108.6 billion, the central bank said on
Friday, giving much-needed fiscal wriggle room as the country's
economy heads into 2023 on shaky ground.
This year, Russia is on track to post a record high current
account surplus after its imports of goods and services fell due
to Western sanctions while globally high commodity prices
boosted its export revenues.
Exports rather than import compression are responsible for
the majority of the rise, the Institute of International Finance
Following a sharp reduction, imports are gradually
recovering, the central bank said. As an oil price cap and
export embargo kick in, the surplus will likely decline in 2023.
That drop could put further strain on Russia's economy,
already saddled with subdued consumer demand, falling disposable
incomes and the impact of President Vladimir Putin's partial
mobilisation order on workforce numbers.
The government this week voiced concerns that labour
shortages across the country could undermine any chance of
Russia mounting a sustained economic recovery in the months
"The factor that will significantly and radically worsen the
situation next year is mobilisation," Evgeniy Nadorshin, chief
economist at PF Capital, said at a debt market conference.
Russia's economy is doomed to see a fall in productivity,
with consumption and investments also expected to drop,
Nadorshin said, predicting a 5-10% economic contraction in 2023.
"We are dealing at best with the second toughest crisis in
the 21st century," he added. "Domestic consumption and GDP are
being set back by 10 years or more and I don't see any prospects
for growth after the recession ends."
Officials and analysts have been gradually improving GDP
forecasts for 2022, suggesting that restrictions imposed against
Moscow over its actions in Ukraine will lead to a less sudden,
but more prolonged contraction than first expected.
Alfa Bank economists this month estimated the GDP decline at
6.5% next year, anticipating falls in demand and investment. The
economy ministry forecasts a 0.8% contraction.
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Darya Korsunskaya, Editing
by William Maclean, Toby Chopra and Mark Heinrich)