Since January, the Moscow market has dropped almost 75 percent. In just the last two weeks, the market more than a third of its value.
The panic began when the billionaire George Soros, a big investor in Russia, warned that "the meltdown in Russian financial markets has reached a terminal phase." He urged a quick devaluation of the Russian ruble of up to 25 percent.
Russia's Prime Minister quickly insisted there'll be no ruble
devaluation. But he didn't explain how the government is going to pay off $20 billion in debts when it can't collect enough taxes to do it.
And Western investors who might help out are already scared enough about the Asian economies and positively petrified about investing in Russia.
What scares the Kremlin is growing labor unrest among millions of unpaid Russian workers. Higher taxes and a devalued ruble will make them even more restless.
Russia just got a $23 billion loan package from then West, and that might be enough to help put its finances right, given time. Time is one thing the Kremlin may not have.
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