The financial crisis - or, as we like to call it here, 'the effects of the American and European financial crisis on Russia' - has taken a little while to get going, but it's going now. Yesterday my grandmother sat me down for a serious conversation: she wanted to know if she should take her rouble-denominated life savings out of the Sberbank and put them into dollars. Everyone's a financial adviser now. Or rather, I'm a financial adviser now. This is not good.
What should we do? My grandmother's life savings are not very substantial. In fact she said as much: 'Should we take my pathetic life savings out of the bank?' My grandmother worked in Soviet publishing for fifty years, and then worked for another ten on her own as a translator. Towards the end of her translating career, when she turned 80, she had trouble sitting at the desk for too long at a time, so would lie on the couch, read a page of manuscript in the original, and then get up and translate the page from memory at her typewriter - in my opinion an excellent way of avoiding an excessively literal and lifeless reproduction. Anyway, as far as I can tell, she's already lost her savings a few times thanks to various devaluations - in 1990 and 1998 - and to one early 1990s pyramid scheme. So it's a miracle she has any money to lose at all, but she does, and now she's worried about it. The Sberbank is around the corner. The question is: do we start a run on it?