High-grade dreams

Special report Russia

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If in September 1998 you had posed the question ‘is Russia heading for investment-grade?’ most people would have called in the men in white coats to whisk you off to the nearest mental asylum.

After all, in August of that year the authorities in the Kremlin had effectively defaulted on the equivalent of $30 billion worth of rouble-denominated GKO government bonds, the rouble had crashed from around six roubles to the dollar to 25 and the country’s banking system had all but been wiped o

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