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.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.