Currency: The Hunt for a Safe Ruble

Without a stable exchange rate, will Russia's currency go the way of the Soviet Union?

For bargain-hunting tourists, some of the cheapest deals on the planet these days can be found in the former Soviet Union. The choices are certainly limited, but Americans in Moscow with access to black-market rubles can, for example, enjoy a reasonable meal for as little as $3 or take home a room-size, handmade wool rug for less than $100. But the plunging value of the ruble that makes such deals available to foreigners has been a nightmare for the locals. Since Russian President Boris Yeltsin lifted price controls in January, a move that pushed the inflation rate to 200% that month,...