Residents of Moscow hold approximately 80 billion to 100 billionroubles in cash, close to one-half of the total cash savings in the country. Yuri Sizov,head of the Moscow division of the Federal Commission on the Securities Market, says thatthe people of Russia have over 250 billion roubles (approximately $1 billion) in cash, 20percent of which is in foreign currencies.
It was no accident that an officer of the securities market commissionraised the subject of citizens' savings.
Sizov has been trying for a long time to make these heaps of cash workfor the economy. He says recent opinion polls indicate that only 3 percent of Russianpeople are willing to buy securities, while in countries with a developed market economyapproximately 25 percent of the adult population are shareholders. The attraction ofindividual savings is vitally important today for preserving the Russian stock market andits infrastructures. Here it is appropriate to use the experience of the Moscow BrokerageCentre, which was established by the investment company OLMA and a number of otherorganisations.
According to Sizov, brokerage houses that service individuals aretrading more and now account for 20 to 30 percent of the organised market's tradevolume. Despite the crisis, the number of people coming to brokerage centres has increasedto about 100 persons per week. This is good, Sizov says, but it can be better. Thesecurities market commission is determined to lobby for the adoption of tax exemptions forindividual investors in securities. The commission will also organise educational seminarsand other events to help make securities investments more attractive.
The situation in Moscow is generally better than elsewhere in Russia.The earnings of Muscovites make up more than 20 percent of individual earnings in Russia,and in terms of per capita income, the capital is 700 to 1,000 percent above other regionsof the Russian Federation.
People's incomes (adjusted for inflation) declined 15 percent fromJanuary through November 1998 compared to the corresponding period in 1997, according tothe Central Bank. In October and November of 1998, people's deposits in banksrecorded positive gains, following a period of decline that lasted from June untilSeptember.
This increase represented 1.7 percent of people's earnings.Russian people spend most of their earnings on staple food items and consumer goods (84.2percent in November 1998 and more than 90 percent in January 1999).
The shrinkage of Russian incomes has had ramifications in Switzerland.According to the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, there has been a decline in the numberof Russian companies and individuals opening accounts in Swiss banks.
Citing a spokesman for the Cliff consulting company, the newspaperreported that the number of Russians wishing to open accounts in Swiss banks has dropped30 percent recently. "We hope the situation will improve in the near future,"the spokesman added. Little did he know that in Sizov his company now has a strongcompetitor.