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BiscayneSunrise
04-08-09, 08:38 AM
A few months ago there was much angst about Russia's invasion of Georgia signaling new hegemony.

Bloomberg TV this morning reported that Medvedev economic adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich, saying the majority of the Russian economy will collapse within 10 years due to various structural problems. (sorry, can't find a link)

Putin knew this day was coming and was desperately trying to push out Russian influence before the inevitable collapse. It looks like that day will be coming sooner rather than later.

Obama has just recently decided to maintain the Bush policy of missile defense based in Poland, reversing his campaign promise. Russian thought the west would back off on this policy. No such luck. Now Obama is also cozying up to the Turks which will add additional pressure on Russians southern flank.

Russia is dying.

Perhaps our resident kremlinologist, medved, can comment.

c1ue
04-08-09, 10:58 AM
I'd be interested in seeing the full interview.

What you heard seems contradictory to what has been said just in the past week by the same person:

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/31/content_11103124.htm


Currently there is no need to worry about the stability of the ruble's exchange rate, said Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich here on Monday.


"The situation is quite stable, and there is no way to add anything to this. I think there should be no concerns about the stability of the national currency in general," Dvorkovich told reporters at a briefing.
"The Central Bank will continue the policy aimed at ensuring stability on the currency market. And we will move gradually, not in fits and jerks, to a freer and floating exchange rate of the national currency," he said.


http://www.silobreaker.com/DocumentClusterReader.aspx?Item=16_226222804045083 4452


The Russian rouble rose to a 9-week high on Monday, cheered by five-month peaks in the price of Urals crude on Monday, and prompting the central bank to intervene for the third day in a row to stem currency gains.

Trying to keep the ruble from getting too strong doesn't seem like the action of a failing state. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what's happening in Iceland, Eastern Europe, etc.

BiscayneSunrise
04-08-09, 01:08 PM
I soon as I saw the piece on TV, I went to Bloomber.com to find the story there with no luck.

They only gave it about 10 seconds on the TV so there was no background.

However, we already know that Russia is facing a demographic meltdown in about 20-50 years.

The bigger problem Russia has, in my mind, is that with Putin taking power away from the oligarchs, he has put a chill on foreign investment and internally generated innovation. They can run off the intellectual capital and business infrastructure they already have in place for a while but then all their internal problems will finally rise up to smother them.

I believe that is what Dvorkovich may have been referring to.

Currencies are not my strong point. So I can't really speak to the Rubles strength. Having said that, I am thinking, where most exporters like to keep their currencies weak to encourage more exports. In Russia, keeping their currency strong is probably the best strategy when exporting commodities in market that will demand them regardless of cost.

Slimprofits
04-08-09, 01:42 PM
Comments were made while speaking at this conference:

X-th International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development. Moscow, 7-9 April, 2009
State University — Higher School of Economics

April 8, Wednesday

10.00-13.30

"The world economic crisis and Russia’s role in getting over"

http://www.hse.ru/org/hse/apr_conf_eng/plenary

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ahmiVXVM5fAQ

The “overwhelming part” of Russia’s economy is so inefficient that “it doesn’t stand a chance of surviving in the next 10 years,” Arkady Dvorkovich, President Dmitry Medvedev’s top economic adviser, told a conference at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics today.

Dvorkovich reiterated the government’s position that state support should be directed toward “new efficient niches” of the economy rather than to inefficient sectors.

medved
04-08-09, 06:25 PM
A few months ago there was much angst about Russia's invasion of Georgia signaling new hegemony.

Bloomberg TV this morning reported that Medvedev economic adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich, saying the majority of the Russian economy will collapse within 10 years due to various structural problems. (sorry, can't find a link)

Putin knew this day was coming and was desperately trying to push out Russian influence before the inevitable collapse. It looks like that day will be coming sooner rather than later.

Obama has just recently decided to maintain the Bush policy of missile defense based in Poland, reversing his campaign promise. Russian thought the west would back off on this policy. No such luck. Now Obama is also cozying up to the Turks which will add additional pressure on Russians southern flank.

Russia is dying.

Perhaps our resident kremlinologist, medved, can comment.

Here is some general info about myself.

A. I cannot consider myself a kremlinologist, because I don’t keep up with the current developments , I am just not that interested. My kids don’t even speak Russian, and I don’t see any reason to force them.
B. OTOH, I get some information from time to time (Internet, emails from my friends in Russia, talking to older folks that live in some “Russian Ghetto” in the US). My first (and last) visit to Russia (St. Petersburg) happened in 2007.
C. A&B above don’t mean, I hate Russia. My way of thinking is more American than Russian, but I accept Russia for what it is. I still love reading Leskov and Paustovsky and listening to Musorgsky.

Here is the link to the Bloomberg article:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ahmiVXVM5fAQ

“The “overwhelming part” of Russia’s economy is so inefficient that “it doesn’t stand a chance of surviving in the next 10 years,” Arkady Dvorkovich, President Dmitry Medvedev’s top economic adviser, told a conference at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics today.”

1. Russia has always had inefficient economy, nothing has changed.
2. There is a big difference between inefficient economy and Russia’s collapse. If you ask me, it is in a permanent state of collapsing for the last 100 years. It can keep collapsing for the next 100 years as long as they produce enough gas/oil to sell and vodka to drink.
3. The real question is, will Russia turn into a moderate European country or a third-world resource supplier. I think, the latter will happen.
4. The gov’t types, of course, think of Russia as a former and future superpower, so they are alarmed by the country weakening. I think, they will eventually accept the reality, stop whining and sign long-term resource supply agreements with the rest of the world.
5. Having said that, I admit, that Russia is hardly predictable and can be affected by the whole financial crisis situation. And, of course, US mishandling of the situation can be dangerous.

Here is a good article:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/JH19Ag05.html

Contemptuous
04-09-09, 02:13 AM
Fantastic realism in your posts Medved. For both the US and Russia, and Europe and all the others. Like someone opened a window and let in a blast of icy cold air. Very refreshing and very well "grounded".

Shakespear
04-09-09, 02:54 AM
I will put in my 2c here as I have worked in Russia and have a Slavic perspective.

Lest anyone from the West think that "Oh the pipes have burst and they will be done for it." with regard to Russia is sadly mistaken. These are some of the most resilient people on the planet. Very smart and flexible, if educated (as long as their education system doesn't sink). I know a few PhD's who can fix their plumbing in their homes. I met quit a few people in Russia who could do this and a lot more.

So don't count out Russia in a simplistic way like it was done with China and Malaysia many moons ago.

Like Medved said, no matter what they will just move ahead one way or the other but they will not roll over.

BiscayneSunrise
04-09-09, 06:31 AM
That has been the Russian tragedy. As Shakespear points out the Russian people are smart, flexible and resilient but have frequently suffered at the hands of their own government. Maybe Russia is a classic example of geography being destiny.

Try as they might, they never really achieved power equal to their smarts and ambitions.

Putin, to his credit, has played what is a very bad hand, about as well as possible. Given the realities of their situation, it seem he is now shifting the economy towards being a resource supplier to the rest of the world, as medved predicts.

Since we are in a transformational depression, Russia is in the process of transforming itself away from its' dreams of superpower to one of commodity supplier to the world.

The irony here is, once they give up on superpower aspirations and accept their natural place, maybe they will become more fully functional and influential.

D-Mack
04-09-09, 08:07 AM
Putin, to his credit, has played what is a very bad hand, about as well as possible. Given the realities of their situation, it seem he is now shifting the economy towards being a resource supplier to the rest of the world, as medved predicts.


I think I remember reading Putin speeches or articles on him, where he said they had to get away from that and into developing technology & manufacturing.

BiscayneSunrise
04-09-09, 08:35 AM
I think I remember reading Putin speeches or articles on him, where he said they had to get away from that and into developing technology & manufacturing.

I suppose he may have thought that before and I certainly have no insight into his thinking. Putin may have said he wants tech and manufacturing but his policies towards business have certainly had a chilling effect on innovation.

Even before that, after the fall of the Soviet Union, they had a brain drain of their scientists. I also read that they are just not producing science, math and engineering majors like they used to. What few that are graduating have no mentors because of the previous brain drain.

Maybe like an investor changing his strategy, Putin sees with a shrinking population and rising commodity prices, Russia's best hope is emphasis on a commodity centered economy. Or maybe he just figures he can control a commodity economy more so than a free wheeling technologically centered economy. I just don't know.

What I do know, however, is that Russia has few good options. There was lots of fanfare about Russia being an emerging powerhouse as part of the BRIC. I just don't see it.

D-Mack
04-09-09, 09:26 AM
I suppose he may have thought that before and I certainly have no insight into his thinking. Putin may have said he wants tech and manufacturing but his policies towards business have certainly had a chilling effect on innovation.

Even before that, after the fall of the Soviet Union, they had a brain drain of their scientists. I also read that they are just not producing science, math and engineering majors like they used to. What few that are graduating have no mentors because of the previous brain drain.

Maybe like an investor changing his strategy, Putin sees with a shrinking population and rising commodity prices, Russia's best hope is emphasis on a commodity centered economy. Or maybe he just figures he can control a commodity economy more so than a free wheeling technologically centered economy. I just don't know.

What I do know, however, is that Russia has few good options. There was lots of fanfare about Russia being an emerging powerhouse as part of the BRIC. I just don't see it.



Russia is the opposite of China when it comes to births


- the state will pay maternity allowances for the birth of two or more children in advance next year and the money may be used to pay mortgages
http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081204/118694135.html

ThePythonicCow
04-09-09, 01:08 PM
Russia is the opposite of China when it comes to births
Hmmm ... China had a one child rule to force a lower population.

Perhaps Russia can have a "three child rule" -- have three children by age thirty or it's off to the gualag for you :eek:

c1ue
04-11-09, 10:40 AM
The bigger problem Russia has, in my mind, is that with Putin taking power away from the oligarchs, he has put a chill on foreign investment and internally generated innovation. They can run off the intellectual capital and business infrastructure they already have in place for a while but then all their internal problems will finally rise up to smother them.

Actually the oligarch's losing power has little to do with Russia - it has more to do with the mountains of debt they ran up and are now stuck trying to keep up with - even as their core assets declined precipitously in value.

The word on the street is that there will be a new crop of oligarchs.

But I will point out that the supposed foreign investment seemed to be primarily financial - much as was seen in Thailand prior to their crash.

The loss of that much capital certainly hurt, but I personally am doubtful that mere presence of that kind of foreign capital really meant much in the way of long term benefits to the Russian economy.

Certainly for specific sectors like oil/natural gas - there probably have been negative effects from the virtual nationalization of resources. But on the other hand the beauty of capitalism is that this expertise can be encouraged back in with an appropriate lure of profit.


Currencies are not my strong point. So I can't really speak to the Rubles strength. Having said that, I am thinking, where most exporters like to keep their currencies weak to encourage more exports. In Russia, keeping their currency strong is probably the best strategy when exporting commodities in market that will demand them regardless of cost.

The ruble being weak helps the Russian trade and budget balance situation; the strong ruble is bad in times of declining commodities volumes because export income goes down while import spending goes up.

The problem as I see it was that having a strong ruble basically was a shot to the head for most internal manufacturing. Why bother building manufacturing or any other production capabilities in Russia when you can buy crap from Poland or Turkey for much cheaper?

Even the high import taxes didn't help as there was massive corruption such that import duties as a percentage of total imported goods cost sold were probably half or less what they should have been. This type of behavior also encouraged giant companies as smaller importers have a much harder time playing this game.

As I mentioned before - there are increasing reports of crackdowns on this type of business model. It may of course simply be a siloviki switchout, but Evrocet's owner was recently nailed for basically importing cell phones via bribing customs officials. Evrocet is a huge direct marketer of cell phones at least in St. Petersburg - comparable to a top 3 Verizon/AT & T/Sprint retail presence. There have also been crackdowns on furniture, cars, various types of food, etc etc. such that a noticeable change has occurred in the composition of St. Petersburg port officials.


Russia is the opposite of China when it comes to births


Yes, and this hasn't escaped notice either.

Russia went 'democratic', and is suffering the tail end of 20 years of decline.

China didn't, and is doing much better demographically.

Dr. Michael Hudson spoke to how 'financialization' of economies as was practiced in Russia can be as destructive as open conflict - we now get to see a repeat in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

BiscayneSunrise
04-12-09, 07:26 AM
C1ue. I understand your points and do agree with them but here's the rub: Russia may have some successes on the periphery but it seems the best they can hope for is commodity provider to the world.

The question is can they leverage that to become an Australia of the north or will they continue to devolve?

c1ue
04-13-09, 12:00 PM
Greg,

Russia definitely has a lot of challenges.

In macro - the basic problem is that the previously fairly mechanized economy of the 70s was dismantled in favor of commodities by the 'democratization' process.

Sure, there were lots of inefficient state factories then as well as now.

But inefficient or not - being reliant on foreign factories has its own pitfalls.

The relatively strong ruble in recent years had several major negative effects:

1) Discouraging internal investment in manufacturing
2) Encouraging outsourcing of non-export commodities
3) Asset price bubbles in land and knock-on commercial real estate and residential property
4) Overmuch borrowing at the corporate level

As an example of the above, there was a publicly owned company that once farmed around St. Petersburg. The mayor of St. Petersburg basically sold all that land - and it is now covered with shopping malls and apartments.

The global credit squeeze is fixing 4)

Increasing enforcement of existing customs rules is working on 2) (fix is not clear)

Economic general troubles are fixing 3)

The last item - 1) - it is not clear if the fixing of 2) through 4) is enough or specific additional action is needed.

As for how Russia can proceed - in my mind it isn't rocket science.

Russia needs to regain its previous agriculture capabilities. Russia once supplied grain to much of Europe but today imports a lot. Australia can never do this as most of its land is desert.

Secondly Russia needs to rebuild its own manufacturing capabilities. Having Toyota and GM plants doesn't count. Australia also cannot do this as it simply is too small population wise.

Lastly Russia needs to mobilize its far flung land mass. At present most of Russia's land is not used for much of anything. Certainly it is not all useable, but equally certainly a lot of its potential could be tapped if better communications and transportation infrastructure were put in.

At present most of Russia's productivity is in the European side - while most of its commodities come from the Asian side.

The open letter I sent out concerning a trans-Siberian maglev line would be one possible example.

So I would absolutely agree with you that Russia has huge challenges facing it.

But I disagree that being a commodities exporter is the only way out.

Having a goal and seeing measurable progress towards that goal is one of the best ways to reverse a generally morose mindset - in a nation known for moroseness. That alone might be sufficient to reverse the demographic issues brought about by the 'democratization' of Russia by Yeltsin.

BiscayneSunrise
04-13-09, 01:07 PM
Excellent and thoughtful reply. I find the idea of a trans siberian mag-lev line intriguing.

Many months ago on a thread far, far away, there was a discussion as to whether the oligarchs, despite all their warts, were deep down inside, entrepreneurs.

As for their morose mindset, If the central government can rejuvenate and properly channel those robber baron animal spirits, Russia could potentially have something.

sishya
04-13-09, 08:17 PM
Greg,

Russia definitely has a lot of challenges.

In macro - the basic problem is that the previously fairly mechanized economy of the 70s was dismantled in favor of commodities by the 'democratization' process.

Sure, there were lots of inefficient state factories then as well as now.

But inefficient or not - being reliant on foreign factories has its own pitfalls.

The relatively strong ruble in recent years had several major negative effects:

1) Discouraging internal investment in manufacturing
2) Encouraging outsourcing of non-export commodities
3) Asset price bubbles in land and knock-on commercial real estate and residential property
4) Overmuch borrowing at the corporate level

As an example of the above, there was a publicly owned company that once farmed around St. Petersburg. The mayor of St. Petersburg basically sold all that land - and it is now covered with shopping malls and apartments.

The global credit squeeze is fixing 4)

Increasing enforcement of existing customs rules is working on 2) (fix is not clear)

Economic general troubles are fixing 3)

The last item - 1) - it is not clear if the fixing of 2) through 4) is enough or specific additional action is needed.

As for how Russia can proceed - in my mind it isn't rocket science.

Russia needs to regain its previous agriculture capabilities. Russia once supplied grain to much of Europe but today imports a lot. Australia can never do this as most of its land is desert.

Secondly Russia needs to rebuild its own manufacturing capabilities. Having Toyota and GM plants doesn't count. Australia also cannot do this as it simply is too small population wise.

Lastly Russia needs to mobilize its far flung land mass. At present most of Russia's land is not used for much of anything. Certainly it is not all useable, but equally certainly a lot of its potential could be tapped if better communications and transportation infrastructure were put in.

At present most of Russia's productivity is in the European side - while most of its commodities come from the Asian side.

The open letter I sent out concerning a trans-Siberian maglev line would be one possible example.

So I would absolutely agree with you that Russia has huge challenges facing it.

But I disagree that being a commodities exporter is the only way out.

Having a goal and seeing measurable progress towards that goal is one of the best ways to reverse a generally morose mindset - in a nation known for moroseness. That alone might be sufficient to reverse the demographic issues brought about by the 'democratization' of Russia by Yeltsin.

I personally like Russia and typically third world Media has been very kind reporting about Russian actions.

Clue - Before all these actions, I personally think Russia has to do the reverse of things it did for the past 100 years.

- Bring back good Capitalism(no favoritism)
- Encourage Family and Religious values in population, tax incentives to help
- Move away from state companies.
- Some methods to curb alchohol consumption.
- Last but not least, find some way to encourage population growth(much more than what is touted)

vanvaley1
04-14-09, 05:11 AM
Be nice to see Rissian organized crime reeled in also. But I suspect they'll have as much luck with that as we do with organized crime in the US...not much.

nero3
04-14-09, 06:22 PM
I think the Russians are a very talented people, among people coming to Norway, people from Russia are those who have the best articulation, hands down. Sometimes you can't even tell they are foreigners at all. I think that is a testimony of the intelligence found in the Russian population.

Putin is doing all the right things, taking away the power from these capitalist robbers is definitely the right thing to do. I think that's why he is popular as well. I don't think it's over. I think Russia is just as much on the same growth path as Brazil, China and India.

BiscayneSunrise
04-14-09, 09:06 PM
I think the Russians are a very talented people, among people coming to Norway, people from Russia are those who have the best articulation, hands down. Sometimes you can't even tell they are foreigners at all. I think that is a testimony of the intelligence found in the Russian population.

Putin is doing all the right things, taking away the power from these capitalist robbers is definitely the right thing to do. I think that's why he is popular as well. I don't think it's over. I think Russia is just as much on the same growth path as Brazil, China and India.

You won't get any argument about the intelligence and grit shown by the Russian people. Their tragedy has been poor leadership over the centuries and the prison of their geography.

Putin has been popular because he reined in the excesses of the oligarchs and restored Russian pride. The real question is whether his policies will have long term success given the many problems Russia faces.

Just curious. The Russians in Norway; are they settling permanently? or are they there just temporarily? What kinds of businesses or employment do they engage in? Do they keep close ties with family back home or fellow Russian ex-pats elsewhere around the world?

c1ue
04-17-09, 12:06 AM
Many months ago on a thread far, far away, there was a discussion as to whether the oligarchs, despite all their warts, were deep down inside, entrepreneurs.

Greg,

In my view, the oligarchs by and large are NOT entrepreneurs.

Because they didn't create anything. What they did was use various levers including bribery, extortion, fraud, and leverage in order to capture large parts of formerly state owned resource extraction operations.

Did they make these operations more efficient? Competitive worldwide?

I think the answer is no.

Plus with the benefit of hindsight - we can see that most of them were simply the most aggressive and lucky ones who are not hoist by their massive double- and triple-down borrowing.


Clue - Before all these actions, I personally think Russia has to do the reverse of things it did for the past 100 years.

- Bring back good Capitalism(no favoritism)
- Encourage Family and Religious values in population, tax incentives to help
- Move away from state companies.
- Some methods to curb alchohol consumption.
- Last but not least, find some way to encourage population growth(much more than what is touted)

I would like to point out again that Russia's demographic problem didn't stem from the Soviet era - it started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued up through the last 20 years of 'democracy'.

Having a renewed sense of national purpose and/or hope for the future might itself be enough to reverse these trends.

sishya
04-17-09, 01:02 PM
I would like to point out again that Russia's demographic problem didn't stem from the Soviet era - it started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued up through the last 20 years of 'democracy'.

Having a renewed sense of national purpose and/or hope for the future might itself be enough to reverse these trends.

I may be wrong, but from what I read, Tartar population is not coming down, Chechen population is also good(removing the violent deaths). I read that Muslim Minorities in Russia are having a good healthy population growth. Societies which have good family and religious values - thrive. At least that is what I think.

D-Mack
04-17-09, 01:26 PM
12 Russian targets for U.S. nuclear missiles
11:55 | 17/ 04/ 2009

The Federation of American Scientists and Natural Resources Defense Council has published a study entitled From Counterforce to Minimal Deterrence: A New Nuclear Policy on the Path Toward Eliminating Nuclear Weapons.

It recommends abandoning the decades-old "counterforce" doctrine and replacing it with a new and much less ambitious targeting policy that the authors call "minimal deterrence."

It says a new targeting category and policy, termed "infrastructure targeting," would focus on "a series of targets that are crucial to a nation's modern economy," naming in the report 12 potential targets in Russia.
http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20090417/121174792.html

http://img.rian.ru/images/12117/45/121174557.jpg


Don't like the Russian infrastructure?

medved
04-17-09, 03:17 PM
Greg,

In my view, the oligarchs by and large are NOT entrepreneurs.

Because they didn't create anything. What they did was use various levers including bribery, extortion, fraud, and leverage in order to capture large parts of formerly state owned resource extraction operations.

Did they make these operations more efficient? Competitive worldwide?

I think the answer is no.

Plus with the benefit of hindsight - we can see that most of them were simply the most aggressive and lucky ones who are not hoist by their massive double- and triple-down borrowing.

This is correct. After 70 years of the communist rule there was no private initiative left, whoever could exercise it was either killed or emigrated. For several generations Russians were brainwashed with massive commie propaganda. Eventually, not that many people believed it, but that was never the authorities’ goal. The ultimate goal was to create the population that believes nothing, and is not ready for any kind of social association, initiative or risk taking. The only exception in this environment are criminals. Criminal elements successfully resist this environment and preserve their initiative, their group ties and their own culture. As one of my friends in SPb told me, he was initially surprised to find in the 1990s that most of the new mafia rulers were closely associated with former commie apparatchicks. Later he learned, it was the rule, rather than exception.


I personally think Russia has to do the reverse of things it did for the past 100 years.

- Bring back good Capitalism(no favoritism)
- Encourage Family and Religious values in population, tax incentives to help
- Move away from state companies.
- Some methods to curb alchohol consumption.

First of all, in Russia there was never any Capitalism (good or bad) to speak of. Russian Capitalism was making its first baby steps in the environment of the rotting Empire at the end of the 19th century and was wiped out by WWI, civil war and commie “revolution”.

To the degree, that Russia restores its Orthodox Christianity it can hope to restore the Family. This is an ongoing process, and not an easy one.

Moving away from state companies in the nearest future will be disastrous, but so is staying with them for too long. This is the same problem as nationalization in the US, it is necessary in an emergency, but dangerous as a permanent solution. I doubt even US can solve this problem, much less Russia.

Curbing alcohol consumption in Russia is out of question.


I would like to point out again that Russia's demographic problem didn't stem from the Soviet era - it started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued up through the last 20 years of 'democracy'.

It did not start with the collapse of the USSR, it started much earlier. To the degree, that Russia is a part of the Western culture (and it is, although not 100%), it will have this problem.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/front_page/ED08Aa01.html


Having a renewed sense of national purpose and/or hope for the future might itself be enough to reverse these trends.

IMHO, Russian natioanalism is good in limited proportion. Indeed, it gives hope to many people I know. At least, it can create some healthy political environment where senile commie system is replaced by smart and capable government. Just compare Mr. Gorbachev to Mr. Putin : Mr. Putin is quite intelligent and speaks some German while Gorbachev hardly speaks Russian (he sounds like an illiterate peasant, his Russian is worse, than GW's English).

OTOH, excessive nationalism causes excessive drive to various political/military adventures, it can cause a lot of problems both in Eastern Europe and around the world. Besides, majority of the people with this mindset tend to be “anti-capitalist”, which brings us back to the problem of excessive socialism in Russia.

nero3
04-18-09, 07:14 AM
You won't get any argument about the intelligence and grit shown by the Russian people. Their tragedy has been poor leadership over the centuries and the prison of their geography.

Putin has been popular because he reined in the excesses of the oligarchs and restored Russian pride. The real question is whether his policies will have long term success given the many problems Russia faces.

Just curious. The Russians in Norway; are they settling permanently? or are they there just temporarily? What kinds of businesses or employment do they engage in? Do they keep close ties with family back home or fellow Russian ex-pats elsewhere around the world?

Anything really. There is many people here from Poland, but they mainly work in construction. Those from Russia are more often higher educated working as doctors, teachers, nurses, that kind of jobs, I think it's because the rules for immigration are more strict for countries outside the EU. It seems to me that they loose contact with their family back home more often, and stays more permanent than those from Poland.

nero3
04-18-09, 07:24 AM
l. The ultimate goal was to create the population that believes nothing, and is not ready for any kind of social association, initiative or risk taking. The only exception in this environment are criminals. Criminal elements successfully resist this environment and preserve their initiative, their group ties and their own culture.


This is the best explanation I have seen to why there seems to be so many bad guys in the big businesses.

BiscayneSunrise
04-18-09, 07:59 AM
Thanks you all for the excellent insight.

It seems we are in agreement Russia faces enormous challenges, the most damaging seems to be the lack of entrepreneurial drive. What little there is, tends to emigrate.

Ironically, the best thing Russia may have going for it right now is Mr. Putin.

c1ue
04-18-09, 02:34 PM
This is correct. After 70 years of the communist rule there was no private initiative left, whoever could exercise it was either killed or emigrated. For several generations Russians were brainwashed with massive commie propaganda. Eventually, not that many people believed it, but that was never the authorities’ goal. The ultimate goal was to create the population that believes nothing, and is not ready for any kind of social association, initiative or risk taking. The only exception in this environment are criminals. Criminal elements successfully resist this environment and preserve their initiative, their group ties and their own culture. As one of my friends in SPb told me, he was initially surprised to find in the 1990s that most of the new mafia rulers were closely associated with former commie apparatchicks. Later he learned, it was the rule, rather than exception.


Medved,

I can see why you have this view - but in response I'd like to point out that the American system is not so much different. Instead of 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need', instead Americans get 'Freedom, apple pie, and Mom'.

Indeed crushing original thought may not even be an ideological purview - it could simply be a function of bureaucracy. And no nation was as bureaucratic as the Soviet Union!

From my own point of view - I have not had the same experience though I'll freely admit it is likely from a different generation. Whether it is the educated elite from St. Petersburg State U, or returned veterans from Chechnya, or low end bureaucrats, or small/medium sized business owners, the curiosity and flexibility I've seen are easily the equal of what I find in the US.


OTOH, excessive nationalism causes excessive drive to various political/military adventures, it can cause a lot of problems both in Eastern Europe and around the world. Besides, majority of the people with this mindset tend to be “anti-capitalist”, which brings us back to the problem of excessive socialism in Russia.

I agree nationalism used as a tool to distract from present issues is a path leading to darkness. But the sense of national purpose doesn't have to be Rossiya Uber Alles - it can be directed toward building a better future in Russia.

One of the gauges I use to estimate progress is the enforcement actions by Russian customs. Possibly nowhere outside of military appropriations is so much corruption.

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=customs.ru%2Fru&sl=ru&tl=en&history_state0=

In particular look at the sidebar of specific enforcement actions.

In previous years the number and sizes of busts were significantly smaller.

Supercilious
04-28-09, 11:30 AM
This is correct. After 70 years of the communist rule there was no private initiative left, whoever could exercise it was either killed or emigrated. For several generations Russians were brainwashed with massive commie propaganda. Eventually, not that many people believed it, but that was never the authorities’ goal. The ultimate goal was to create the population that believes nothing, and is not ready for any kind of social association, initiative or risk taking. The only exception in this environment are criminals. Criminal elements successfully resist this environment and preserve their initiative, their group ties and their own culture. As one of my friends in SPb told me, he was initially surprised to find in the 1990s that most of the new mafia rulers were closely associated with former commie apparatchicks. Later he learned, it was the rule, rather than exception.



First of all, in Russia there was never any Capitalism (good or bad) to speak of. Russian Capitalism was making its first baby steps in the environment of the rotting Empire at the end of the 19th century and was wiped out by WWI, civil war and commie “revolution”.

To the degree, that Russia restores its Orthodox Christianity it can hope to restore the Family. This is an ongoing process, and not an easy one.

Moving away from state companies in the nearest future will be disastrous, but so is staying with them for too long. This is the same problem as nationalization in the US, it is necessary in an emergency, but dangerous as a permanent solution. I doubt even US can solve this problem, much less Russia.

Curbing alcohol consumption in Russia is out of question.



It did not start with the collapse of the USSR, it started much earlier. To the degree, that Russia is a part of the Western culture (and it is, although not 100%), it will have this problem.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/front_page/ED08Aa01.html



IMHO, Russian natioanalism is good in limited proportion. Indeed, it gives hope to many people I know. At least, it can create some healthy political environment where senile commie system is replaced by smart and capable government. Just compare Mr. Gorbachev to Mr. Putin : Mr. Putin is quite intelligent and speaks some German while Gorbachev hardly speaks Russian (he sounds like an illiterate peasant, his Russian is worse, than GW's English).

OTOH, excessive nationalism causes excessive drive to various political/military adventures, it can cause a lot of problems both in Eastern Europe and around the world. Besides, majority of the people with this mindset tend to be “anti-capitalist”, which brings us back to the problem of excessive socialism in Russia.

Thanks medved for putting it so clearly. This is exactly the picture I get from my Russian friends in Russia or in the west (Europe and North America) . One of them told me there hasn't been a real change in the structure of the Russian society for the last 500 years. Regardless of the official name of the system (czarism, communism, capitalism) Russia is actually a cast system composed of:
-the ruling class with four sub levels which define the internal equilibrium of power : the government bureaucracy, the official repression apparatus (KGB or Ohrana), the military and the more or less organized crime families.
-a thin tolerated layer of idealist intellectuals, shaved continuously into an endangered species official mowing emigration and economic punishment.
- the slave cast which is the majority (95%+) of russians.

He also told me that as long as this cast system will be maintained there is no hope to cut on the votca and that Putin's "revolution", and the apparent order and social stability brought by him, is based on the meging of the subcomponents of the ruling cast.

BiscayneSunrise
07-28-09, 06:39 AM
Here is a WSJ interview with VP Joe Biden. He really doesn't say anything we don't already know but maybe has a slip of the tongue.

Note in the 4th paragraph, he says that Russia may not "be able to withstand the next 15 years" Is Biden admitting the current economic crisis may last 15 years? If so, will we begin to hear politicians becoming more forthright about our dilemma?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124848246032580581.html

By PETER SPIEGEL

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview that Russia's economy is "withering," and suggested the trend will force the country to make accommodations to the West on a wide range of national-security issues, including loosening its grip on former Soviet republics and shrinking its vast nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Biden said he believes Russia's economic problems are part of a series of developments that have contributed to a significant rethinking by Moscow of its international self-interest. The geographical proximity of the emerging nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea is also likely to make Russia more cooperative with the U.S. in blocking their growth, he said.

But in the interview, at the end of a four-day trip to Ukraine and Georgia, Mr. Biden said domestic troubles are the most important factor driving Russia's new global outlook. "I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold," he said.

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Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Joe Biden, in a his speech in Kiev Wednesday, reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to strengthen ties with Ukraine.
"Russia has to make some very difficult, calculated decisions," Mr. Biden said. "They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable."

Mr. Biden's remarks were the most pointed to date by a senior administration official on why the Obama administration believes its "reset" with Russia is likely to succeed, while previous efforts to engage Moscow by the Clinton and Bush administrations ended with little progress.

The remarks also are among the administration's most critical of Russia's current role in the world, and come just weeks after President Barack Obama insisted that the U.S. seeks a "strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia" in an address at his high-profile July summit in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Natalya Timakova, a spokeswoman for Mr. Medvedev, declined to comment on Mr. Biden's remarks. Ms. Timakova acknowledged that the Russian government is currently looking at many of the issues he raised -- including economic challenges, the banking sector and the country's shrinking population.

Excerpts: Biden on Eastern Europe
“I can see Putin sitting in Moscow saying, 'Jesus Christ, Iran gets the nuclear weapon, who goes first?' Moscow, not Washington.”
Read more interview excerpts
Journal CommunityDISCUSS
“Who gave Joe Biden the truth serum? The only person I'm [beginning] to respect in the Obama administration is Biden, go figure. ”
— Sam Defre
Despite Russia's economic and geopolitical difficulties, Mr. Biden said, Moscow could become more belligerent in the short term unless the U.S. continues to treat Russia as a major player on the international stage. He said Russian leaders are gradually beginning to grasp their diminished global role, but that the U.S. should be cautious not to overplay its advantage.

"It won't work if we go in and say: 'Hey, you need us, man; belly up to the bar and pay your dues,' " he said. "It is never smart to embarrass an individual or a country when they're dealing with significant loss of face. My dad used to put it another way: Never put another man in a corner where the only way out is over you."

Since the end of the Cold War, consecutive U.S. administrations have tried to re-engage with Moscow on a range of foreign-policy issues, in the belief that the two countries had increasingly common national-security interests. After initial charm offensives, however, both the Clinton and Bush administrations' efforts were stymied.

Mr. Biden's remarks illustrate the extent to which the Obama administration believes the balance of power is shifting toward Washington, giving the White House a new opening to leverage its strategic advantages to persuade Moscow to reduce Russia's nuclear arsenal, loosen its grip on emerging democracies on its border, and cooperate on Iran and North Korea.

More

Biden Backs Georgia, but U.S. Won't Supply Arms
"It's a very difficult thing to deal with, loss of empire," Mr. Biden said. "This country, Russia, is in a very different circumstance than it has been any time in the last 40 years, or longer."

Specifically, he said, economic troubles played a central role in Moscow's strong desire to restart nuclear-reduction talks. He noted that Russia can no longer afford to maintain an arsenal that, while much smaller than Cold War levels, is still one of the two largest in the world by far. "All of sudden, did they have an epiphany and say: 'Hey man, we don't want to threaten our neighbors?' No," Mr. Biden said. "They can't sustain it."

He also argued that Russia's domestic struggles have made it less able to influence events in its so-called near abroad -- the former Soviet republics that, to varying degrees, are seeking increased independence from Moscow.

Russia maintains thousands of troops in the northern Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and has shut off gas flows into Ukraine twice in the last three years. Despite such shows of power, Mr. Biden said, even a close Russian protectorate such as Belarus has shown signs of bucking Moscow recently.

Mr. Biden said Moscow's efforts to strong-arm former Soviet republics through use of its energy resources have backfired. He noted that Russia's running dispute with Ukraine has galvanized European efforts to build a new pipeline through Turkey and southern Europe, known as Nabucco, that would bypass Russia.

"Their actions relative to essentially blackmailing a country and a continent on natural gas, what did it produce?" he said. "You've now got an agreement that no one thought they could have."

—Alan Cullison in Moscow contributed to this article.
Write to Peter Spiegel at peter.spiegel@wsj.com

flintlock
07-28-09, 09:49 AM
Russia is a paper tiger. I've been reading lately on their war in Chechnya. Their conventional military is a joke. So short of nuclear war, we have nothing to fear from them and they know it. They had a hard time mobilizing even a few divisions to retake Grozny in 1995 and only slightly better results in the second war. This in their own backyard. I doubt things have changed much in the last few years in that regard.

If the brutal methods used in the military are any indication of their treatment as a whole, the Russian people must be very demoralized.

I agree with a previous statement that Russia would be better off giving up its attempts at being a superpower. They can't afford it. ( Of course neither can the US)

KGW
07-28-09, 10:26 AM
Here's some more thought on Russia from Stratfor:
https://www.stratfor.com/?utm_source=GWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=090727&utm_content=repost
The Russian Economy and Russian Power


by George Friedman | July 27, 2009


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Georgia and Ukraine partly answered questions over how U.S.-Russian talks went during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Russia in early July. That Biden’s visit took place at all reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the principle that Russia does not have the right to a sphere of influence in these countries or anywhere in the former Soviet Union.

The Americans’ willingness to confront the Russians on an issue of fundamental national interest to Russia therefore requires some explanation, as on the surface it seems a high-risk maneuver. Biden provided insights into the analytic framework of the Obama administration on Russia in a July 26 interview with The Wall Street Journal. In it, Biden said the United States “vastly” underestimates its hand. He added that “Russia has to make some very difficult, calculated decisions. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.”
U.S. Policy Continuity

The Russians have accused the United States of supporting pro-American forces in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries of the former Soviet Union under the cover of supporting democracy. They see the U.S. goal as surrounding the Soviet Union with pro-American states to put the future of the Russian Federation at risk. The summer 2008 Russian military action in Georgia was intended to deliver a message to the United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union that Russia was not prepared to tolerate such developments but was prepared to reverse them by force of arms if need be.

Following his July summit, Obama sent Biden to the two most sensitive countries in the former Soviet Union — Ukraine and Georgia — to let the Russians know that the United States was not backing off its strategy in spite of Russian military superiority in the immediate region. In the long run, the United States is much more powerful than the Russians, and Biden was correct when he explicitly noted Russia’s failing demographics as a principle factor in Moscow’s long-term decline. But to paraphrase a noted economist, we don’t live in the long run. Right now, the Russian correlation of forces along Russia’s frontiers clearly favors the Russians, and the major U.S. deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan would prevent the Americans from intervening should the Russians choose to challenge pro-American governments in the former Soviet Union directly.

Even so, Biden’s visit and interview show the Obama administration is maintaining the U.S. stance on Russia that has been in place since the Reagan years. Reagan saw the economy as Russia’s basic weakness. He felt that the greater the pressure on the Russian economy, the more forthcoming the Russians would be on geopolitical matters. The more concessions they made on geopolitical matters, the weaker their hold on Eastern Europe. And if Reagan’s demand that Russia “Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev” was met, the Soviets would collapse. Ever since the Reagan administration, the idee fixe of not only the United States, but also NATO, China and Japan has been that the weakness of the Russian economy made it impossible for the Russians to play a significant regional role, let alone a global one. Therefore, regardless of Russian wishes, the West was free to forge whatever relations it wanted among Russian allies like Serbia and within the former Soviet Union. And certainly during the 1990s, Russia was paralyzed.

Biden, however, is saying that whatever the current temporary regional advantage the Russians might have, in the end, their economy is crippled and Russia is not a country to be taken seriously. He went on publicly to point out that this should not be pointed out publicly, as there is no value in embarrassing Russia. The Russians certainly now understand what it means to hit the reset button Obama had referred to: The reset is back to the 1980s and 1990s.
Reset to the 1980s and 90s

To calculate the Russian response, it is important to consider how someone like Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin views the events of the 1980s and 1990s. After all, Putin was a KGB officer under Yuri Andropov, the former head of the KGB and later Chairman of the Communist Party for a short time — and the architect of glasnost and perestroika.

It was the KGB that realized first that the Soviet Union was failing, which made sense because only the KGB had a comprehensive sense of the state of the Soviet Union. Andropov’s strategy was to shift from technology transfer through espionage — apparently Putin’s mission as a junior intelligence officer in Dresden in the former East Germany — to a more formal process of technology transfer. To induce the West to transfer technology and to invest in the Soviet Union, Moscow had to make substantial concessions in the area in which the West cared the most: geopolitics. To get what it needed, the Soviets had to dial back on the Cold War.

Glasnost, or openness, had as its price reducing the threat to the West. But the greater part of the puzzle was perestroika, or the restructuring of the Soviet economy. This was where the greatest risk came, since the entire social and political structure of the Soviet Union was built around a command economy. But that economy was no longer functioning, and without perestroika, all of the investment and technology transfer would be meaningless. The Soviet Union could not metabolize it.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was a communist, as we seem to forget, and a follower of Andropov. He was not a liberalizer because he saw liberalization as a virtue; rather, he saw it as a means to an end. And that end was saving the Communist Party, and with it the Soviet state. Gorbachev also understood that the twin challenge of concessions to the West geopolitically and a top-down revolution in Russia economically — simultaneously—risked massive destabilization. This is what Reagan was counting on, and what Gorbachev was trying to prevent. Gorbachev lost Andropov’s gamble. The Soviet Union collapsed, and with it the Communist Party.

What followed was a decade of economic horror, at least as most Russians viewed it. From the West’s point of view, collapse looked like liberalization. From the Russian point of view, Russia went from a superpower that was poor to an even poorer geopolitical cripple. For the Russians, the experiment was a double failure. Not only did the Russian Empire retreat to the borders of the 18th century, but the economy became even more dysfunctional, except for a handful of oligarchs and some of their Western associates who stole whatever wasn’t nailed down.

The Russians, and particularly Putin, took away a different lesson than the West did. The West assumed that economic dysfunction caused the Soviet Union to fail. Putin and his colleagues took away the idea that it was the attempt to repair economic dysfunction through wholesale reforms that caused Russia to fail. From Putin’s point of view, economic well-being and national power do not necessarily work in tandem where Russia is concerned.
Russian Power, With or Without Prosperity

Russia has been an economic wreck for most of its history, both under the czars and under the Soviets. The geography of Russia has a range of weaknesses, as we have explored. Russia’s geography, daunting infrastructural challenges and demographic structure all conspire against it. But the strategic power of Russia was never synchronized to its economic well-being. Certainly, following World War II the Russian economy was shattered and never quite came back together. Yet Russian global power was still enormous. A look at the crushing poverty — but undeniable power — of Russia during broad swaths of time from 1600 until Andropov arrived on the scene certainly gives credence to Putin’s view.

The problems of the 1980s had as much to do with the weakening and corruption of the Communist Party under former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev as it had to do with intrinsic economic weakness. To put it differently, the Soviet Union was an economic wreck under Joseph Stalin as well. The Germans made a massive mistake in confusing Soviet economic weakness with military weakness. During the Cold War, the United States did not make that mistake. It understood that Soviet economic weakness did not track with Russian strategic power. Moscow might not be able to house its people, but its military power was not to be dismissed.

What made an economic cripple into a military giant was political power. Both the czar and the Communist Party maintained a ruthless degree of control over society. That meant Moscow could divert resources from consumption to the military and suppress resistance. In a state run by terror, dissatisfaction with the state of the economy does not translate into either policy shifts or military weakness — and certainly not in the short term. Huge percentages of gross domestic product can be devoted to military purposes, even if used inefficiently there. Repression and terror smooth over public opinion.

The czar used repression widely, and it was not until the army itself rebelled in World War I that the regime collapsed. Under Stalin, even at the worst moments of World War II, the army did not rebel. In both regimes, economic dysfunction was accepted as the inevitable price of strategic power. And dissent — even the hint of dissent — was dealt with by the only truly efficient state enterprise: the security apparatus, whether called the Okhraina, Cheka, NKVD, MGB or KGB.

From the point of view of Putin, who has called the Soviet collapse the greatest tragedy of our time, the problem was not economic dysfunction. Rather, it was the attempt to completely overhaul the Soviet Union’s foreign and domestic policies simultaneously that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And that collapse did not lead to an economic renaissance.

Biden might not have meant to gloat, but he drove home the point that Putin believes. For Putin, the West, and particularly the United States, engineered the fall of the Soviet Union by policies crafted by the Reagan administration — and that same policy remains in place under the Obama administration.

It is not clear that Putin and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev disagree with Biden’s analysis — the Russian economy truly is “withering” — except in one sense. Given the policies Putin has pursued, the Russian prime minister must believe he has a way to cope with that. In the short run, Putin might well have such a coping mechanism, and this is the temporary window of opportunity Biden alluded to. But in the long run, the solution is not improving the economy — that would be difficult, if not outright impossible, for a country as large and lightly populated as Russia. Rather, the solution is accepting that Russia’s economic weakness is endemic and creating a regime that allows Russia to be a great power in spite of that.

Such a regime is the one that can create military power in the face of broad poverty, something we will call the “Chekist state.” This state uses its security apparatus, now known as the FSB, to control the public through repression, freeing the state to allocate resources to the military as needed. In other words, this is Putin coming full circle to his KGB roots, but without the teachings of an Andropov or Gorbachev to confuse the issue. This is not an ideological stance; it applies to the Romanovs and to the Bolsheviks. It is an operational principle embedded in Russian geopolitics and history.

Counting on Russian strategic power to track Russian economic power is risky. Certainly, it did in the 1980s and 1990s, but Putin has worked to decouple the two. On the surface, it might seem a futile gesture, but in Russian history, this decoupling is the norm. Obama seems to understand this to the extent that he has tried to play off Medvedev (who appears less traditional) from Putin (who appears to be the more traditional), but we do not think this is a viable strategy — this is not a matter of Russian political personalities but of Russian geopolitical necessity.

Biden seems to be saying that the Reagan strategy can play itself out permanently. Our view is that it plays itself out only so long as the Russian regime doesn’t reassert itself with the full power of the security apparatus and doesn’t decouple economic and military growth. Biden’s strategy works so long as this doesn’t happen. But in Russian history, this decoupling is the norm and the past 20 years is the exception.

A strategy that assumes the Russians will once again decouple economic and military power requires a different response than ongoing, subcritical pressure. It requires that the window of opportunity the United States has handed Russia by its wars in the Islamic world be closed, and that the pressure on Russia be dramatically increased before the Russians move toward full repression and rapid rearmament.

Ironically, in the very long run of the next couple of generations, it probably doesn’t matter whether the West heads off Russia at the pass because of another factor Biden mentioned: Russia’s shrinking demographics. Russian demography has been steadily worsening since World War I, particularly because birth rates have fallen. This slow-motion degradation turned into collapse during the 1990s. Russia’s birth rates are now well below starkly higher death rates; Russia already has more citizens in their 50s than in their teens. Russia can be a major power without a solid economy, but no one can be a major power without people. But even with demographics as poor as Russia’s, demographics do not change a country overnight. This is Russia’s moment, and the generation or so it will take demography to grind Russia down can be made very painful for the Americans.

Biden has stated the American strategy: squeeze the Russians and let nature take its course. We suspect the Russians will squeeze back hard before they move off the stage of history.
<!-- END MAIN CONTENT SECTION -->

metalman
07-28-09, 11:07 PM
Just curious. The Russians in Norway; are they settling permanently? or are they there just temporarily? What kinds of businesses or employment do they engage in? Do they keep close ties with family back home or fellow Russian ex-pats elsewhere around the world?

they are escaping a russia made by putin... 'who is doing all the right things'.

c1ue
07-29-09, 01:46 PM
It still amazes me why anyone would still pay attention to Stratfor.

Friedman continues to show his complete ignorance combined with a Foggy Bottom (State Department) view of the world.

The idea that the Central Asian republics or the near Slavic neighbors like Belarus would 'go the other way' completely ignores the reality of the economic situation in these countries: poor and heavily dependent on Russian energy and cash infusions.

The US might be able to replicate the latter, but it cannot force Russia to continue to sell sub-market priced energy.

Ukraine - the grand experiment in this - has accomplished exactly what the US did not want: a cooperation between Germany and Russia to create more channels than the Soviet era infrastructure spanning the Ukraine.

To this day I have yet to see any mention of the many bcm of natural gas the Ukraine has 'disappeared' while in transit from Russia. This has been credited as 'transit reserve' when in fact it is almost certainly all burnt in Ukrainian steel smelters.

As for Biden - I would be continually amazed at his big mouth were it not for the 20 years of flapping I've already seen. Here in Russia the commentary on Biden's speechifying boiled down to: "do what we (the US) say, not what we do". And the response was *yawn*.

metalman
07-29-09, 02:42 PM
It still amazes me why anyone would still pay attention to Stratfor.

Friedman continues to show his complete ignorance combined with a Foggy Bottom (State Department) view of the world.

The idea that the Central Asian republics or the near Slavic neighbors like Belarus would 'go the other way' completely ignores the reality of the economic situation in these countries: poor and heavily dependent on Russian energy and cash infusions.

The US might be able to replicate the latter, but it cannot force Russia to continue to sell sub-market priced energy.

Ukraine - the grand experiment in this - has accomplished exactly what the US did not want: a cooperation between Germany and Russia to create more channels than the Soviet era infrastructure spanning the Ukraine.

To this day I have yet to see any mention of the many bcm of natural gas the Ukraine has 'disappeared' while in transit from Russia. This has been credited as 'transit reserve' when in fact it is almost certainly all burnt in Ukrainian steel smelters.

As for Biden - I would be continually amazed at his big mouth were it not for the 20 years of flapping I've already seen. Here in Russia the commentary on Biden's speechifying boiled down to: "do what we (the US) say, not what we do". And the response was *yawn*.

stratfor... useless for econ analysis but used to be good for geopolitics. so much competition now that does a better job.

biden was the obvious white guy to run with obama but it's a choice his handlers have to manage every friggin minute of the day.