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Russia's Economy Is Tanking, So Why Is Putin Smiling?

  • FX, gold reserves -- top priority for Kremlin -- on the rise
  • Ruble sacrificed to focus on preserving, rebuilding reserves
The central bank held $379 billion in foreign exchange and gold as of Feb. 19, up $29 billion from lows touched last April, making Russia the only major emerging market with a gain.

The central bank held $379 billion in foreign exchange and gold as of Feb. 19, up $29 billion from lows touched last April, making Russia the only major emerging market with a gain.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
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With Russia mired in the longest recession in two decades, there hasn’t been a lot of good economic news lately. But there’s one indicator that’s looking up, and it’s the one that matters most to Vladimir Putin: His hard-currency reserves.

QuickTake Currency Wars