The Russian economy suffered a double blow in 2008; first from the drop in world crude oil prices and secondly from a reversal of capital account inflows. The fall in national income and the adjustment of the balance of payments to the external shocks triggered a steep recession. After recording real GDP growth of 8.1 percent in 2007, growth fell to 5.6 percent on 2008 and then to negative 9 percent in 2009, one of the steepest falls of any major economy. This affected remittances, mainly to other CIS economies, through two channels: first because of a contraction in employment, especially in the cyclically sensitive construction industry and secondly because the depreciation of the Russian rouble, by 51 percent against the US dollar between March 2008 and March 2009, reduced the dollar value of remittances.
Remittances to Tajikistan fell much more sharply in the final quarter of 2008 than can be attributed to seasonal factors alone. The slump continued throughout 2009 with gross inflows of remittances valued in US dollars for the year falling 31 percent below the total for 2008. How did this fall in remittances, of more than $800 million (about one sixth of GDP) relative to the level in 2008, affect the macroeconomy in Tajikistan? There are three possible channels of adjustment to a reduction of foreign exchange inflows of this magnitude.