"The IMF doesn't have much more than $15 billion left," says TIME business reporter Bernard Baumohl. "It knows that that kind of money would just be a temporary stopgap to support the ruble and pay some wages -- to buy some time." For Russia to have a chance at recovery, the money has to be linked to real reform -- improved tax collection and deep spending cuts.
But Russia, despite the promises of its president, may not be ready to change. "The Duma makes reform very difficult -- in part because the hard-liners wouldn't mind if the Yeltsin government fell," says Baumohl. Perhaps Yeltsin will disband the Duma after all -- if only to get his hands on that loan.