Vedomosti: Russia believes it’s time for a Gas OPEC
Russia is eyeing the possibility of launching a ‘Gas OPEC’, Vedomosti reports, noting that Russian Deputy Minister of Energy Anatoly Yankovsky mentioned this prospect in early June, while Minister of Energy Alexander Novak stated last week that the creation of a coordinating body that would regulate the volume of gas sales and prices "has been under active discussion lately." The energy chief stressed that the main reason for chaos on the global gas market is the lack of a regulator.
Nikita Maslennikov, a leading expert from the Institute of Contemporary Development, told Vedomosti that the situation on the global gas market is even worse than what is currently happening with oil. The drop in prices is sharper, he pointed out, adding that destabilization and a lack of balance have been noted in Europe, Russia and the Asia-Pacific. Fierce competition between pipeline gas and LNG is also a serious factor affecting the market. The US, Qatar and Australia export cheap LNG to Europe and Asia, causing a drop in demand for pipeline gas (mainly coming from Russia) and concurrently, a drop in its prices.
"The global gas industry has been facing the same issues as the oil industry, like excess supply, increased competition, and a drop in prices. This is why the market needs a regulator to avoid chaotic prices. This is obvious. Another question is whether it will appear," head of the AMarkets analytical department Artyom Deyev told Vedomosti.
Creating a gas regulator will be much more difficult than establishing OPEC, said Dmitry Aleksandrov who heads Univer’s analytical research department. He told Vedomosti that gas producers are much more divided than members of OPEC.
For his part, Mamdouh Salama, a professor of economics and energy at the ESCP Business School, is confident that strife between gas producers will linger for a long time. However, they will realize at the end that only cooperation can lead to stable prices both for LNG and pipeline gas, the expert pointed out, adding that this will benefit everyone. So, it seems that Russia has been the first to realize this.
Izvestia: Second wave of COVID-19 in Moscow unlikely, says expert
Pavel Volchkov, who heads the genome engineering lab at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, said in an exclusive interview with Izvestia that up to 40-60% of Moscow residents may be immune to the novel coronavirus, which means that a second wave of the epidemic in the Russian capital is highly unlikely.
"Recently, an article by Swedish researchers who studied T-cell immunity ("Robust T cell immunity in convalescent individuals with asymptomatic or mild COVID-19") came out. Personally, I have been waiting for the results of this study for a long time. They have analyzed many biological samples, conducting ELISPOT (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot), an expensive analysis that detects T-lymphocytes. It turns out that even those who do not have IgG-antibodies have developed T-cell immunity. The share of such people in the population is two-three times higher than the number of those with antibodies," the expert told the newspaper.
"If officially, Moscow has documented 20% of people with a high number of IgG antibodies, we can confidently add 20-40% to this figure. Thus, according to the results, about half of Moscow’s residents are immune to the coronavirus. They won’t get sick anymore," Volchkov emphasized. "For a city like Moscow with millions of inhabitants, today’s figure of about 700 new daily individual infections show that immunity has been formed. If we only had 20% of immune residents, there would be much more people infected after restaurants and shops had opened." Volchkov suggested that the number of daily cases would continue to go down, reaching zero by late August.
The virologist pointed out that in his opinion, the SARS-CoV-2 virus had originated in a lab. "An argument in support of this is that until recently, coronaviruses were not considered that dangerous. People could study them using second-level protection (there are four in total, with levels three and four considered the most dangerous, Izvestia explains). This is clear, as the viruses detected previously could not be transmitted from animals to humans (breaking the inter-species barrier) and then from human to human," the expert said.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Unidentified warplanes hammer Erdogan’s troops in Libya
Turkish air defense systems located on the Al-Watiya air base in Libya have been damaged or destroyed as a result of an attack by unidentified aircraft in the early hours of Sunday, several media outlets reported earlier. It is unclear whether the Turkish troops located on the base have suffered any casualties. Presumably, the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Commander Khalifa Haftar must have been behind the attack.
The strike on the base was carried out immediately after a recent visit by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of the Turkish General Staff Yasar Guler to Tripoli, where they met with officials of Fayez Sarraj’s Government of National Accord, supported by Ankara.
"To be honest, I am rather surprised that Haftar’s army still has something that flies," Senior Lecturer at the Higher School of Economics' School of Oriental Studies Andrei Chuprygin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
In this regard, the newspaper noted that on May 26, AFRICOM (the United States Africa Command) had published a press release on May 26, in which it claimed that the LNA had received MiG-29s, Su-35s and Su-24s from Russia. Allegedly, the jets were transported to the Hmeymim air base in Syria and then to Libya. The Americans suggest that the Russian military had handed over 14 fighters with no identifying signs to Khaftar. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov dismissed those statements as rumors earlier. "The equipment that has been used in Libya for a while is framed as Russian export," he explained.
Chuprygin told the newspaper that in his opinion, it is likely that Khaftar’s troops, and not his Egyptian allies who stated earlier that they were ready to intervene in the Libyan civil war, are behind the attack on Al-Watiya. "The strike on the base where Turkish troops are stationed right after Akar’s visit is a warning to Turkey, of course. It aims to show that Turkey cannot do anything it wishes in Libya. However, this warning is unlikely to hit home. When they intervened in this conflict, the Turks understood clearly that they would suffer losses. So they won’t be deterred after one strike. Yes, the base was hit. However, the situation on the frontlines has not changed. Haftar’s prospects remain bleak. Of course, for his part, Sarraj is not welcome in the country’s east. He has loads of problems, yet, so far, the situation is developing in his favor," Chuprygin pointed out.
Kommersant: Global investors exit Russian markets
International experts are actively scaling back their presence on the Russian market. Over the past week, $90 mln have been pulled out of equity funds alone, and the same trend has been noted on the bond market, which lost $70 mln compared to a $30 mln influx last week. The recovery of the market in the spring has allowed investors to make a significant profit, but, the general lack of stability around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been quelling investors’ appetite for taking risks, Kommersant notes. The situation is undermined by the possibility of new sanctions against Russia.
The data provided by the Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) shows a noticeable drop in interest towards the Russian market from international investors. According to Bank of America and BCS Global Markets, which count on the EPFR’s data, for the week ending on July 1, investors withdrew $90 mln from equity funds (including global funds) invested in Russian shares, which is 4.5 times higher than the week before.
Meanwhile, over $70 mln have been pulled out of the Russian bond market (compared to a $30 mln influx last week). According to Alfa-Capital’s portfolio manager Dmitry Dorofeev, many investors fear a second wave of the pandemic and a possible return of the anti-coronavirus lockdowns.
For his part, Region Asset Management’s head of assets Alexei Skaballanovich says that a second wave of the virus is likely to hit "developing countries where medicine is not that advanced and where a negative effect may be stronger." At the same time, market players note that Russia is in a special position in this case, with the virus seemingly under control and with enterprises allowed to return to operation. Besides, Russia has recently lowered its key rate, taking additional measures to support the economy.
However, Skaballanovich mentioned the new anti-Russian sanctions that are currently under discussion in the US. Dmitry Kosmodemyansky from Otkritie Asset Management notes that the New York Times publication of Russia’s actions in Afghanistan has affected the behavior of market players. He noted that in this case, Russia is likely to be used by the US establishment as a weapon against US President Donald Trump. Experts do not expect that the new sanctions will become a reality, but this factor has affected the profitability of Russia’s state bonds.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Consumer pessimism hovering over Russian population
The COVID-19 pandemic in Russia seems to be on the wane, but consumer pessimism remains high, a poll held by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) suggests. The Russian population is expecting the situation in the country to deteriorate in the near future. They are also skeptical about their financial situation and prospects, the poll says. The rise in consumer pessimism may cause a severe consumer crisis, the newspaper notes.
RANEPA experts base their estimations on the fifth wave of monitoring of over 2,000 people on their social situation and behavior during a coronavirus pandemic.
The experts point out that over 70% of those polled think that the pandemic will significantly affect the country’s economy. Meanwhile, 18% of the respondents think that the effect will be moderate. Russian residents are more worried about their financial prospects, with over half of those polled expecting their financial situation to deteriorate in the near future. Seventy-three percent of those polled fear that their monetary circumstances will worsen significantly or moderately. Meanwhile, 14% think that it will not deteriorate significantly, and 11% see no threat to their finances at all.
"The crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine restrictions have had a negative effect on the population’s outlook and their view of the current situation in Russia and around the world, and of their current situation," economists from the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-term Forecasting (CMASF) concurred.
Deputy head of the economic theory department at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Irina Komarova told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the lifting of quarantine restrictions would help improve the situation, however, the positive changes would take a while. "The reason is the public’s exacerbated financial situation. The official data on real disposable income only exists for the first quarter of 2020, and it is 0.2% less than the similar period of last year. However, the decrease in the second quarter may be more significant. According to official predictions, in the second quarter, the real income of the population may drop by 6%," the expert said. Many analysts suggest that the decline is likely to be higher.
"This year, Russians have gone through two shocks: the devaluation of the ruble and the quarantine that led to a rise in unemployment. We have not overcome those shocks, which affects consumer behavior. People spend less, thinking that tough times are ahead. This is a strong factor causing a recession. Any shock to the economy is reflected by a drop in consumption," head of the Alpari analytical center Alexander Razuvayev insists.
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