So far today, in a matter of hours, the value of a ruble in a Russian’s pocket has swung from losing 4% to gaining 15% against the dollar. (In Moscow, the night is still young.)
It was even crazier yesterday, when the ruble ranged from 9% down to 17% up against the greenback.
The turmoil has led to a scramble to buy big-ticket imported items, like cars and furniture, before retailers revise their prices, and a rush to swap rubles into firmer foreign currencies at banks and exchanges. Some exchanges outside of Russia are refusing to take rubles until things calm down. Apple temporarily shut its online store to review its pricing in the country.
A fightback by the Russian government today has driven a sharp rally in the ruble, but the currency has still lost around half of its value against the dollar this year. Those with longer memories can take some solace in the fact that Russia’s 1998 currency collapse was even more wrenching. At one stage back then, the ruble lost half of its value against the dollar in a single week.