Sberbank, by far Russia’s largest bank, reported quarterly earnings today. Its net profit in the first nine months of the year, Rb109.6bn (US$3.5bn), is more than ten times the total in the previous year. A steep fall in provisions helped, as did a rise in fee and commission-based income.

Russia faces many daunting challenges as it recovers from a severe recession. But one important thing it has going for it—and a crucial advantage in relation to other large economies—is that it will not suffer from the need to deleverage huge volumes of private debt. Since the start of the year, Sberbank has grown its loan portfolio by nearly 8%, with similar rises recorded for both corporate and consumer loans. Net interest income, however, is 4% down on the previous year, thanks to falling interest rates and “competition for good borrowers”, the bank said. Struggling to serve rising demand from borrowers is nonetheless a challenge that many other banks would welcome.

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