By Jessica Cook
The question on the lips of the finance market is: 'will Russia bail out Belarus'?
The Belarus ruble, also knows at BYL, was originally instated to replace the Soviet Union ruble. The Belarus ruble has been notoriously unstable since it was introduced in 1992 and today, Belarus is still struggling to keep its currency stable. The moniker "the black Tuesday" has been daubed onto the recent devaluation of Belarusian currency and it is almost impossible to exchange your Belarusian rubles for foreign currency because: simple put, no one wants to touch it. Knee deep in financial crisis and struggling to keep its currency head above water, the world can only speculate what will become of the Belarus ruble and the financial future of Belarus itself, which is being forced to sell many of its assets to try and stopper its growing debts.
Because of its poor value, many British exchange outlets are currently wary to deal with the Belarus ruble at all. Belarus currency exchange offices are reported to have a noticeable increase in customers as people try desperately to protect their hard-earned savings by exchanging them to a more stable currency such as the euro or the dollar. Because of the rush for foreign exchange their government has been forced to tighten the legislation surrounding currency exchange. These new restrictions and the reluctance of the rest of the world to participate in a collapsing currency mean that it's almost impossible to exchange the Belarus ruble, in Belarus or outside of it, and Belarus foreign exchange locations are actually running out of other currencies to sell. The high number of people trying to exchange Belarus rubles for other currencies has led to a physical drought of other currencies due to the rising demand created by financial panic. To combat financial collapse foreign exchange offices have been limited so that they can sell only what they buy from clients. Because of the volatile nature of this currency, the government have also frozen the prices on certain foodstuffs but ordinary Belarusians are thought to be hoarding staples in case of future problems in a classic case of currency panic.
The Belarusian currency has been devalued and with inflation out of control the country is currently relying on credit from the Russian Federation and is thought to be seeking bailout from Russia and the International Monetary Fund.
If you were planning a trip to Belarus and popped to a currency exchange place at the last minute, you might be shocked to find that they don't stock the Belarusian ruble. The foreign exchange market here is unstable to say the least, and for currency exchange outlets in the UK the cons of stocking the currency outweigh the benefits. With a sort of 'currency fever' affecting Belarus, panic is spreading like wildfire, which has all sort of negative financial implications in itself. Ultimately Belarus is in financial turmoil, and has pleaded with Russia to provide the much needed loan to support the volatile financial market. Russia has as of yet, been reluctant to provide the needed money and urges Belarus to see its industrial assets. There are many potential solutions to this currency dilemma including the Belarus ruble potentially merging with the Russian ruble, but only time will tell how the governments will deal with this financial crisis.
Jessica Cook is writing a novel about childhood as part of the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She has written for publications such as Time Out and The Skinny and has interned with a plethora of places such as The Sunday Times Magazine and Tatler. She currently lives in Bath, UK.