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Wednesday, March 04, 2015 9:29 PM

Ukraine Bans Gold Transactions Over $125, Currency Derivatives and Interbank Purchases Exceeding $10,000; Update on Black Market Rates in Ukraine

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Today the National Bank of Ukraine announced new capital controls on currency transactions. All Interbank Transactions Over $10,000 are Banned.

The national Bank of Ukraine has expanded the list of administrative restrictions for stabilization of the hryvnia, in particular, completely prohibiting the withdrawal of foreign dividends and limiting the purchase of foreign currency on the domestic markets.

Resolution No. 160 is effective from March 4, 2015 and is valid until June 3, 2015.

Previously, prohibitions did not target dividends on securities that are traded on stock exchanges.

The NBU has also introduced limits on the balance of banks' operations on the interbank market at the end of the day and banned financial institutions from using currency derivatives on stock exchanges.

These restrictions apply to customer's accounts over $10,000 as valued by the official rates.

Gold Buying Prohibited

In addition, the NBU banned precious metal transactions in amounts over 3,000 UAH [about $125], and also the transfer of currency abroad in excess of 15 thousand UAH [about $625].
The list goes on and on, I translated what I could understand.

Interbank Rates

For my gold and currency estimates, I used today's interbank rate of approximately 24 UAH per 1 US dollar even though the official rate is ridiculous.

Reader John whose sister lives in Lviv informs me the current rates in Ukraine are as follows.

  • As of 2:30PM today, the official rate is 23.7712 UAH to the dollar. (Rate was at 24.8206 on March 3)
  • The trading range of the USD tightened into the range of 21.5 - 23.5 UAH in the Interbank market. The Euro traded in the range of 24 - 26 UAH per Euro.

Black Market Rates

On the streets of Lviv, the rates are as follows ...

  • BUY 1 USD = 22.00 UAH
  • BUY 1 EURO = 25.00 UAH
  • SELL 1 USD = 27.00 UAH
  • SELL 1 EURO = 30.00 UAH

The third line is key. It takes 27 hryvnia to buy a dollar on the black market in Lviv, an improvement over the mid-30s last week. For how long?

Imports Will Dry Up

I caution that capital controls on gold and foreign exchange is a huge sign of weakness. And if the IMF does not give Ukraine a "loan" or gives Ukraine less of a loan than expected, I expect street rates will quickly hit 50 if not 100 to the US dollar.

Finally, importers are going to be under extreme pressure at artificial rates. Imports will dry up. Merchandise in stores will not be available at almost any price because there will not be any imported merchandise to speak of at all.

If this reminds you of Venezuela, it should.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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