What's Worse, Russian Ruble or Ukranian Hryvnia?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 3/04/2014 11:04:00 AM
As you can see, it's Ukraine by a country mile which is worse off, but that's not saying much for Russia's economic prospects.

In Latin America, the two junk currencies and economies du jour are the Venezuelan bolivar and the Argentinian peso. In Eastern Europe, the two notably horrible performers are of course the Russian ruble and Ukranian hryvnia. Almost everyday we read about how these currencies have hit all-time lows. Ukraine's currency recently fell 30-plus percent y-o-y before recovering to "only" a 20% depreciation. With its economy already in dire straits, Ukraine is headed for a default unless someone to stupid enough to (temporarily) prop it up does so. Can it dupe the IMF again?
Ukraine's interim government said Monday it wants a $15 billion rescue from the International Monetary Fund as officials from the emergency lender kicked off a 10-day visit to shape a bailout of the struggling economy. Ukraine's newly appointed economy minister, Pavlo Sheremeta, said the government is aiming for a two-year IMF loan modeled on Ukraine's previous bailout program...

Many of the conditions the IMF has previously required for emergency financing for Ukraine will most likely remain. The IMF halted loan payments in 2011 after Kiev failed to meet key terms, which included phasing out gas-price subsidies and slashing government spending...

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseyuk on Monday called the IMF's prior financing requirements "harsh demands." But he said his government is ready to take politically unpopular steps the emergency lender is likely to require to open up its war chest.
What does Yatsenuk mean? Harsh demands = "we'll renege again when the natives get restless" (and probably try to reinstall another pro-Russian government).

How about Russia? It's economy is being buffeted by Putin's adventurism, "market discipline" in action. As the ruble too plunges, monetary authorities have begun intervening in FX markets:
Bank Rossii [the Russian central bank], which ING Groep NV estimates sold as much as $12 billion yesterday, said it will start setting ruble intervention parameters daily, a move that will give the central bank more room to ease swings. Goldman Sachs analysts anticipated a change in tack, writing in a note to clients before the move that Bank Rossii may favor a policy that allows for “discretionary interventions” while predicting the ruble has limited “downside” after sinking to a record low. 
Still, I wouldn't worry too much about them since they've saved a lot of FX reserves over the last few bountiful years of elevated energy prices. How does half a trillion--give or take--sound?
Russia’s foreign reserves have fallen $40 billion since May to $493 billion, according to data through Feb. 21. ING said the country’s “net” war chest, excluding its sovereign wealth fund, gold and International Monetary Fund reserves, is about $270 billion. Allowing for funds to cover three months of imports, it shrinks to $150 billion, he said.  
Is simple terms, Russia will set a daily trading band, outside of which it will intervene to move its currency's value back within the band. Russia has a lot of reserves, so it's probably betting that it can insulate itself from Western pressure for a while. We'll just have to wait and see the rate it burns money to determine how long it can hold out.