A report has found that Russia’s number of wealthy people fell by 28.5% last year, which is nearly twice as much as the average level across the globe. The World Bank and the OECD have stated that Russia’s economy would shrink by approximately 7.9% in 2009, rather than the 4.5% they had earlier predicted. Apparently the delay in launching an anti-crisis plan exacerbated the downturn. The New York Times reports upon how Russia has been one of the countries the hardest hit by the recession. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has reaffirmed that in the next ten years, there will not be ‘considerable changes in the structure of reserve currencies in the world’. With debts of $5.4 billion, ‘there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern‘, says steel and coal producer Mechel. The Moscow Times reports on the problems facing coal producers as they struggle to compensate for weakening domestic demand with higher exports. Demand for steel will drop by one quarter his year. Russia has initiated membership talks with the OECD. Sberbank has revealed its only noncorporate shareholder with a stake of more than 1% is ex-Maxi Group owner Nikolai Maksimov.