Stock Market Crash Watch: Moscow Halted
Russia’s benchmark RTS index suffered its sharpest fall in its 13-year history on Monday as investor jitters intensified over global financial turmoil, falling oil and commodity prices and overleveraged oligarchs at home.
The dollar-denominated RTS closed 19.1 per cent down, while the rouble denominated Micex fell 18.7 per cent, in spite of brief trading suspensions on both exchanges in an attempt to minimise the steep falls. The central bank spent an estimated $5bn to prevent the rouble weakening beyond the 30.41 mark against the euro-dollar basket.
Weighing heavily on investor sentiment were fears that Russia’s richest oligarchs could be dumping shares on the market if they faced margin calls on tens of billions of dollars in loans.
The forced divestment last week by Oleg Deripaska, Russia’s richest man, of his 20 per cent stake in Magna, the Canadian carparts maker, to creditors following margin calls on a $1bn loan sent rumours flying round the market other oligarch assets could be next. “People are being reminded that it’s a house of cards,” said one trader speaking on condition of anonymity. “If you’re a billionaire and you can’t raise money it’s pretty bad signal to everyone else.”
Emphasis added by me.
Let me repeat that bit:
“If you’re a billionaire and you can’t raise money it’s pretty bad signal to everyone else.”