(Bloomberg) – As consumers around the world hoarded toilet paper last month before a wave of government-imposed closings, the Russians were storing money.
Since the beginning of March, about 1 trillion rubles ($ 13.6 billion) has been issued by ATMs and bank branches, more than during the whole of last year.
“People were afraid that the banks would not be available during the quarantine,” said Denis Poryvay, an analyst at the Raiffeisenbank in Moscow. “They withdrew money for the same reason that people raised food.”
The daily peaks in withdrawals coincide with regular television briefings from President Vladimir Putin describing the measures taken to combat the coronavirus. There was a leap in money withdrawn after Putin announced a bank deposit tax of more than a million rubles, and more money was raised after extending self-isolation measures until in May at least.
Demand also increased in mid-March for staple foods such as buckwheat and canned meat, retailers said.
On Sunday, Russia recorded its largest daily increase in coronavirus infections, with new cases increasing by more than 6,000 in 24 hours. Putin warned last week that the epidemic has not yet reached its peak in the country.
(Updates with the latest data on coronavirus infections in the fifth paragraph.)
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