... But the central bank exaggerates the reserves at its disposal. About $170 billion of its assets sit in two giant wealth funds, the Reserve Fund and the National Wealth Fund (NWF) ...
Cash from the $82 billion NWF is committed to long-term infrastructure projects, says Sergei Guriev of Sciences-Po, a French university. The NWF has also provided money to VEB, the Russian development bank, to finance construction at the Sochi Olympics.
The loans by which it did so have been "restructured" to allow delayed repayment. Mr Guriev says many people believe the money to have been embezzled. The NWF may thus be unable to offer any liquidity to the government.
In terms of money that could actually be put to use, Russia's reserves could be more than $100 billion lower than the headline figures suggest. Mikhail Zadornov, a former finance minister, said in a recent interview with Dozhd, a television channel, that the usable amount could be as low as $200 billion.That was published 26 days ago.
We are in the realm of "who the f**k knows" here. But if Russia has been bleeding a few billion in reserves every day for a month, and half the money was already misappropriated ... then we're looking at the likely collapse of the Russian economy before the new year.