Russians Buy Jewelry, Hoard Dollars as Ruble Plunges

By Emma O’Brien and William Mauldin

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Moscow resident Tima Kulikov banked on the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, not the Kremlin, when he sold his biggest asset for cash.

The 31-year-old director of a social networking Web site initially agreed to sell his apartment for rubles, then cringed at the thought of the currency weakening as it sat in a lockbox pending settlement of the contract. It wasn’t until the buyer showed up with $250,000 stacked in old mobile-phone boxes and stuffed in his pockets that Kulikov closed the deal.

“The exchange rate we agreed on wasn’t great, but I did it because the money’s going to lie there for a month,” Kulikov said. “Put it this way, the ruble’s more likely to have problems than the dollar.”...

...For the burgeoning middle class, investments of choice range from electronics to gold jewelry. Evroset, Russia’s largest mobile-phone chain, is telling people to buy anything they can....

Read the whole story at: www.bloomberg.com

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