[lbo-talk] Russia's economy

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Fri May 11 06:15:41 PDT 2007

Russia's growth is being fueled (n.p.i.) by oil and gas but does that make it's economy as shaky as has been suggested on this thread rather than laying the basis for further advance? The Putin government has utilized the global commodities boom to reasert state control and consolidate, restructure, and modernize the lumbering old Soviet commanding heights, so that the country now has a bevy of world-class companies (Gazprom and Rosneft in energy, Severstal and Evraz in steel, Rusal in aluminium, Norilsk in nickel) serving as bulwarks against the foreign takeover of Russian resources which appeared destined under Yeltsin. It's also used the boom to retire the foreign debt and to build the largest FX reserves outside Asia, anchoring the currency and protecting the economy against future shocks. These are not small accomplishments.

Politically, it seems to me the Putin regime has played the same historical role in relation to emergent Russian capitalism as the TR administration in relation to the bucaneering US robber barons. Russia doesn't have a fully matured bourgeois-democratic political and judicial system, and Putin has manipulated it to advance his program, but unlike his predecessor - recently eulogized by the Western media as post-Soviet Russia's leading democrat - he hasn't shelled parliament and set it ablaze either. I'm with Chris (and Gorbachev) in thinking that the Putin adminstration has been the best of the political choices currently on offer in Russia - resembling the Chinese leadership in many respects.

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