Accumulation of savings in foreign exchange is a devaluation expectations indicator
After a series of devaluations in the country, the Belarusian population, having the slightest fear of the Belarusian ruble devaluation, follows the traditional pattern and transfers savings into foreign exchange.
On October 12th, 2012 the National Bank published data on money supply. In September 2012, the outflow of ruble deposits from the Belarusian banking system has been recorded for the first time since the beginning of the year.
In September 2012, the population bought USD 365.6 million net, partly due to increased wages. In the first half of 2012, the population was selling currencies for daily needs, in the second half of the year wages rise has resulted in savings accumulation and the need to sell the currency disappeared.
However, the relatively high rates on ruble deposits amid relative stability in the foreign exchange market resulted in an increase in population’s ruble deposits. Since the beginning of the year to September the volume of short-term BYR deposits in Belarusian banks increased from BYR 9.4 trillion to BYR 13.6 trillion.
In September 2012 the situation has changed. Problems with foreign trade resulted in shrinking foreign currency proceeds. Reduced BYR deposits rates reduced the attractiveness of BYR deposits amid increasing devaluation expectations.
The BYR/USD/EUR exchange rate was BYR 8,500 per US Dollar and BYR 10,990 per Euro.
The population’s reaction to these developments was traditional: people started closing BYR deposits massively. BYR deposits in September 2012 shrank by BYR 738 billion. Businesses reacted in the same way. Short-term denominated corporate deposits decreased by BYR 823.2 billion.
Thus, the National Bank’s fears about the financial illiteracy of the population are somewhat exaggerated. Previous experiences have cemented in the people’s minds the effective scheme of preserving their savings. If people feel any uncertainty about the BYR exchange rate, they quickly exchange ruble savings into foreign currency and for safety reasons use foreign currency deposits even if their profitability is falling.
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.