Good Robert Skidelsky piece in today’s Financial Times exploring the rapid changes in Russia’s fortunes and outlook:
The official view is that Russia is an outstandingly successful economy temporarily derailed by a financial shock of foreign origin. Its annual economic growth in real terms averaged 7 per cent in the years during which Vladimir Putin was president (2000-08), annual real wages rose by almost 15 per cent, the federal budget was continually in surplus. Mr Putin, now prime minister, was quick to blame America for the downturn. Before the crisis hit home Dmitry Medvedev, Russiaâ€™s president, boasted in June that Russia was not part of the problem but part of the solution. Its cash-rich companies would invest abroad, Moscow would become a world financial centre, the rouble would become a reserve currency and so on.
All this turned out to be fantasy. The Russian stock market has lost 70 per cent of its value this year. The commodity prices that spearheaded its boom are now falling. The easy credit money from the west that fuelled it has now fled. Russia has failed to diversify its economy and its politics have long made investors nervous. A confrontation with reality is long overdue.