Freedom, Welfare, and the Future

The welfare state, or what we conceive of as such today, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Although pre-modern states did perform some pro-welfare functions such as regulating prices and wages, maintaining workhouses for the poor and even a limited form of targeted social support[1], this spending was framed not in terms of the state’s fulfillment […]

Book Review: Ha-Joon Chang – Kicking Away the Ladder

Chang, Ha-Joon – Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002) Category: economy; history; industrial policy; Rating: 5/5 Summary: Kicking Away the Ladder:How the Economic and Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have Been Re-Written to Justify Neo-Liberal Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang) Much has been said of the smug arrogance, cultural aloofness and end-of-history conceit characterizing the […]

Reconsidering Parshev

In most Russian bookstores, there is a bookshelf or two dedicated to so-called “patriotic literature” – reappraisals of Stalin against “liberal revisionism”, overviews of Russia’s secret super-weapons, the exploits of its special forces and Russian theo-philosophy. Much of it is (apparent) nonsense, but the economic crisis has forced me to reconsider one particular “patriotic” thesis […]

Missing the Forest for the Trees

Russia is commonly represented as one of the most corrupt countries in the world in the Western media, ruled over by Kremlin clans who sugarcoat their kleptocracy with bombastic nationalism. The most oft-cited evidence comes from Transparency International. This is an organization which aggregates surveys of foreign businesspeople and regional analysts to compile a Corruption […]

Book Review: Steven Rosefielde – The Prodigal Superpower

Rosefielde, Steven – Russia in the 21st Century: The Prodigal Superpower (2004) Category: political economy, Russia, transition, military; Rating: 4/5 Summary: Google books; Introduction This is a book about Russia’s past, and its alleged return to the future. Rosefielde outlines his theory that the Soviet Union was a “prodigal superpower”, exchanging Spartan living standards for […]

Kremlin Dreams Sometimes Come True

This April, Michael Bohm, editor at the Moscow Times, published the article New Kremlin Dreamers, which questioned Russia’s stated intention of becoming an advanced industrial nation by 2020. I wasn’t much impressed by its pessimistic assertions – for instance, regarding Russia’s hopes of becoming the world’s fifth largest economy by 2020, he falls into the […]

Decoupling from the Unwinding

Three months ago I wrote an extensive analysis of Russia’s economy during the crisis in which I said that although it is going to be damaged by the shutdown of its traditional financing mechanism – cheap credit from the West – sovereign solvency will not be threatened and there will be a strong recovery in […]

Russia Economic Crisis III: On the Importance of Self-Sufficiency in Liquids

In this essay, I analyze three major areas of concern about the current Russian economy – the debt burden, balance of payments and future fiscal sustainability. Although on paper Russia is comfortably solvent, rolling over debt has been problematic for Russia Inc. because of the shutdown of its traditional financing mechanisms, cheap American credit and […]

Russia Economy Crisis II: Anatomy of the Crisis

As promised in the last post, here is a follow-up about Part II of the 17th World Bank Russia report, the reading of which cannot be stressed as too important in the current climate. Like in the last post, I summarize the main reports, using a lot of unattributed straight-out quoting of salient phrases and […]

Russia Economy Crisis I: How Red will Russia Get?

Recently the World Bank’s November issue of the biannual Russian Economic Report came out. At the time I was busy with other things, amongst others planning the move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress; as such, I did not give it the comprehensive treatment that it deserved at the time. Of course, reading about these things […]

The Great Debate

Just wanted to point out there is an on-going four-way debate at Streetwise Professor‘s blog between him, commentator Michel, myself and (at times) Timothy Post. In SWP’s words, it is about “(a) the breadth of Russian prosperity, (b) its dependence on oil prices, and (c) the likely future course of oil prices” and despite the […]

Some Thoughts on the Financial Crisis

What with all the noise about the ongoing credit crunch, all around financial apocalypse and burgeoning signs that it is beginning to spill over into Main Street like a torrent of water from a collapsing dam, I thought it’s about time we take a look at this “sucker” (to use Bush’s blunt term) and it’s […]

News 2 May: Russia’s Second Oil Peak

For all the noise being made this month about Georgia, about NATO, about Tibet, etc, possibly the most portentous is that it seems Russia hit its oil peak (strictly speaking, its second – the first happened in 1987), well in line with peakist predictions. Production increases via application of new technology, as seen in the […]

Annals of Media Madness – The Trouble with the Economist

This is how the Economist celebrates Russia’s presidential election – the Trouble with Russia’s Economy, represented by a bear gorging itself on oil (i.e. invoking the Myth of the Russian Oil Curse, which we have debunked far too many times to count on this blog). Guess we’ll have to do it again. Never mind that […]

Annals of Resurgent Russia – CIA World Factbook 2008

The 2008 version of the CIA World Factbook has been published. While the demographic data has not been updated, new economic estimates have been published for 2007. Firstly, let’s take a look at the basics. Russia’s GDP is now estimated at 2076bn $ in 2007, up from 1723bn $ in 2006. This is not just […]

Annals of Resurgent Russia – It’s the Economy (in 2007), Stupid!

Twice a year the World Bank files a Russian Economy Report. The last one was in November 2007. Let’s look at its first chapter – “Recent Economic Developments”. It does what it says, i.e., condenses Russia’s economic situation in 2007 into a few pages of dense text, stats and charts. First comes the summary: RUSSIAN […]