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Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Russia, ex-Soviet states face risk: financial report


While the recent financial markets turmoil has had a limited impact so far on emerging economies, Russia and some others appear more vulnerable, a financial industry group said on Monday.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF) said in a report that the subsequent credit crunch has had "little fundamental effects" on emerging markets, but warned that some countries were showing preliminary signs of strain.

Among those looking at risk are Russia and other former Soviet states and Argentina, said institute officials presenting the report to reporters.

Unlike in other financial crises, such as in Asia in 1997 to 1998, the emerging markets overall are showing more "resilience and reduced vulnerability" to global shocks, after undertaking reforms, particularly involving transparency and investor relations, IMF managing director Charles Dallar said.

But "resilience should not be confused with immunity," he warned, saying it was too early to assess whether the US economy would be hit hard by the housing sector troubles.

The IIF, the Washington-based global association of financial institutions with more than 365 members, including banks, law firms and corporations, will issue a global growth update next month.

Philip Suttle, director of global economic analysis, said the nations of greatest concern are Argentina, Eastern Europe and Russia, which has "seen more market turbulence than others."

The Russian central bank in recent days has been the "most supportive" to the local market compared with other emerging markets, Suttle said.

The central bank drew down about US$5 billion from foreign currency reserves last week, he said.

"Russia's liquidity's been so frothy in recent years ... a priori you expect this is happening," he said.

He said the institute is closely tracking commodity prices, including oil, to assess the impact of the financial turmoil on a "less US-consumer reliant" global economy.

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