By Kim Iskyan
Medvedev: Promoting Moscow as finance center
At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in early June, touted as Russia's answer to the Davos forum, president Dmitry Medvedev pushed Moscow as a global financial center and reiterated Russia's desire to make the ruble a reserve currency, both of which are distant goals at best. The volume of deals announced at the gathering was, not surprisingly, down sharply from levels the previous year.
During his budget address to the cabinet, Medvedev called for budgetary restraint in the face of an anticipated deficit-the first in 10 years-of 7.4% of GDP. Support for social spending programs and the banking sector remain key anti-crisis strategy priorities. The president confirmed earlier indications that the government may issue debt to help cover the anticipated deficit.
In late May it was announced that Russian state bank Sberbank would buy a 35% stake in GM's Opel, in conjunction with partner Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna, which will own 20% of the European arm of the bankrupt American automaker. The acquisition suggests that the Russian government is continuing to try to project economic strength globally despite the sharp decline in Russian economic growth.