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Russia's Reserve Fund is kaput

Russia’s Reserve Fund was finally exhausted in December 2017 and will formally cease to exist on February 1, 2018, the Finance Ministry reported on Wednesday. Composed of tax revenue collected from the oil and gas industry, the Russian government created the Reserve Fund in 2008, setting new allocation amounts annually. Any oil and gas revenues that weren’t deposited into the Reserve Fund were transferred to Russia’s National Welfare Fund.

The size of the Reserve Fund peaked early on in September 2008, when its accounts reached $142.6 billion. By the end of 2014, the fund had fallen to $88.9 billion. Beginning in 2015, Moscow actively started spending from the Reserve Fund to plug federal budget deficits.

Russian finance officials originally expected the Reserve Fund to empty out in early 2017, but it lasted an extra year, thanks to the price of oil remaining above $50 a barrel.

With the collapse of the Reserve Fund, the Russian government plans to use the National Welfare Fund to cover budget deficits.On January 1, 2018, there were 3.75 trillion rubles ($65.9 billion) in welfare fund’s accounts.

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