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Here’s What Russians Hoarded When the Lockdown Began

BLOOMBERG, APRIL 19, 2020

About $14 billion has been withdrawn since early March | People were afraid banks would be unavailable during lockdown

While consumers around the globe were hoarding toilet paper last month ahead of a wave of government-imposed lockdowns, Russians were stockpiling cash.

About 1 trillion rubles ($13.6 billion) has been issued from cash machines and bank branches since the beginning of March, more than during the whole of last year, central bank data show.

Graph showing the withdrawal of cash in Russia on a month to month basis.

“People were afraid that banks will be unavailable during the quarantine,” said Denis Poryvay, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank in Moscow. “They withdrew money for the same reason as people hoarded food.”

READ: Moscow Tightens Lockdown With Permit System as Virus Spreads

Daily spikes in withdrawals coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s regular televised briefings outlining measures being taken to fight the coronavirus. There was a spike in money being taken out after Putin announced a tax on bank deposits of over 1 million rubles, and more cash was hoarded after he extended self-isolation measures until at least May.

Demand also surged in mid-March for basic groceries such as buckwheat and canned meat, retailers said.

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