Fact Check: Ruble's Designation As 'World's Best-Performing Currency' Does NOT Tell Full Story

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Ruble's Designation As 'World's Best-Performing Currency' Does NOT Tell Full Story Only On Paper

Was the Russian ruble named the "world's best-performing currency" in May 2022? Yes, but that claim requires significant context: Bloomberg did publish an article on May 11, 2022, stating that the ruble was the "year's best performing currency." However, the Bloomberg article also provided the necessary information to clarify the claim, explaining that the ruble appears much stronger theoretically than it is in reality.

The claim appeared in an article (archived here) published by RT, a Russian state-controlled news outlet, on May 12, 2022. The headline and deck of the article read:

Ruble named world's best-performing currency
Bloomberg says the Russian currency topped 31 major peers in growth this year

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Ruble named world's best-performing currency

The Russian ruble is the growth leader among major currencies tracked by Bloomberg in 2022

Although the Bloomberg article mentioned in the RT article did state that the ruble was the best-performing currency of the year, there are several factors that the RT article failed to mention -- and the Bloomberg article highlighted -- that make the claim in the RT article misleading.

The Bloomberg article began by acknowledging that "not many people can pocket a profit on the rally" of the ruble. The rally, or upswing in the market, occurred because of policies put in place by Russian regulators. The RT article and the Bloomberg article both explained that Russia has successfully implemented capital controls -- measures that dictate how foreign currency can move in and out of the country -- and that Russia has asked exporters to sell foreign exchange and to pay for the country's gas in rubles.

However, the RT article, which cited the Bloomberg article for all its information, neglected to include the parts of the Bloomberg article that said the ruble is still struggling to generate a profit. The Bloomberg article stated:

Strategists say the rally isn't credible as many currency-trading shops have stopped dealing in the ruble on the grounds that its value seen on monitors is not the price it can be traded at in the real world.

In an email to Lead Stories sent on May 12, 2022, Michael Alexeev, a professor of economics at Indiana University who has studied the Russian economy, told us that the claim "definitely lacked context." He explained that there are large revenues created by Russia's main exports -- which include petroleum products and gas -- and that Russia implemented a measure requiring exporters to sell most of their hard currency revenues for rubles. Russia also limited the ability of Russian citizens and foreigners to "transact in foreign currency." He concluded:

In short, the Russian ruble is no longer convertible, implying that it makes little sense to talk about it's performance vis-à-vis other currencies.

Mary Kate Binecki, corporate communications manager for the Institute of International Finance (IIF), told Lead Stories in an email sent on May 16, 2022, that the RT article was missing context:

Our team are forecasting a 15% contraction in the Russian economy in 2022, wiping out 15 years of economic progress.

Binecki also linked an IIF report about the ruble's rally and an opinion piece by the IIF's deputy chief economist Elina Ribakova about the rally.

Lead Stories also reached out to EMTA, a trade association for emerging markets, and for their analysis of the claim and will update this story with any relevant response.

Still, both the RT article and the Bloomberg article acknowledged that Russia has achieved a great feat by bringing the ruble into an upswing during the 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict. The conflict has resulted in several Western countries placing sanctions on Russia with the goal of hurting Russia's economy.

Lead Stories previously debunked another claim involving the Russian economy that falsely asserted that it returned to using a gold standard.

More Lead Stories fact checks related to the 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict can be found here.


  • 2022-05-27T23:01:11Z 2022-05-27T23:01:11Z
    Added response from Institute of International Finance spokesperson.

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