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Here's Why the Russian Ruble Is Collapsing

What's driving the ruble's nose dive, and what does it mean for Russia?

The Russian economy has been in trouble for months, but last night, things got absurdly bad. The value of the ruble dropped as much as 19 percent in the last 24 hours, the worst single-day drop for the ruble in 16 years. Now Russians are reportedly bum-rushing malls to swap cash for washing machines, TVs, or laptops—anything that seems as if it might hold value better than paper money, whose worth is evaporating in real time. The political and economic forces sending Russia into a downward spiral are complex. Here's what you need to know. 

Russia's economy has been hurt by two big things: the falling price of oil and economic sanctions. (Remember Crimea?) The oil and gas industry generates about half of Russia's revenue, so when a combination of the shale boom in the U.S. and weaker demand worldwide pushed the price from $110 per barrel earlier this year to $60, Russia got hammered. The sanctions imposed by Europe and the U.S., designed to punish Russia's companies for President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine, have hurt, too.