Same Old: Russian Ruble Devalues, France Strikes

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 1/29/2009 06:35:00 AM
I guess we're back to the bad old days when you could always count on two things. First, Russia's ruble losing value fast:
Russia’s ruble had its biggest two- day drop in a decade against the dollar as investors speculated the central bank will be forced to widen its target trading band after draining 35 percent of foreign-currency reserves.

The ruble depreciated 3 percent today to 34.9189 per dollar, the weakest since January 1998. The currency lost 5.2 percent in two days, the most since March 1999. It slipped as much as 2.3 percent to 45.6615 per euro, the lowest since the European currency’s introduction in 1999.

While Bank Rossii pledged last week to defend the ruble at 36 per dollar, that target may be “very quickly” breached, said Gaelle Blanchard at Societe Generale SA in London. Russia spent a record $11 billion in a day last week to support the exchange rate, after a 30 percent plunge against the dollar since August, according to Moscow’s Trust Investment Bank. Russia’s reserves, the world’s third-largest, fell $9.7 billion last week to $386.5 billion, Bank Rossii announced today. “As long as the central bank gives these targets then speculators are going to have something to aim for,” said Blanchard. “Right now the market is convinced it wants to see the ruble lower.”
Next, you have virtually all of France going on strike:
France’s rail network, airports and public schools were disrupted today as the country’s eight biggest labor unions called for a one-day general strike. In what is turning into the largest such action since President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in May 2007, the unions are demanding that the government do more to counter rising unemployment and falling purchasing power as France enters its first recession in 16 years. The eight unions represent the bulk of France’s 1.9 million-strong unionized workforce...

Unions say measures announced by the government so far are inadequate. Sarkozy unveiled a 26 billion-euro ($34.4 billion) economic-stimulus package in December.

About 69 percent of the French people back the strike, according to a poll by CSA-Opinion for newspaper Le Parisien on Jan. 25. Forty-six percent support the strike, while 23 percent “sympathize,” with the union call, Le Parisien said. Of those interviewed, 12 percent were opposed or hostile to the strike. It’s the first time in Sarkozy’s presidency that a “social movement” has had such public approval, Stephane Rozes, head of CSA-Opinion told the daily...

Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, or SNCF, France’s national railway, where workers began the strike last night at 8 p.m., said about 60 percent of the regional TER train services and 40 percent of high-speed TGV lines will be disrupted.
These are the Russians and French we all know, but do we share the love?