NOTE: We don’t know if such facts are of general interest to our readers, but we like to be as transparent as we can so we’ll let you know that our traffic pattern over the past month has been an exciting one. Click the jump if you want to know the details.
Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Russia. It tolls for thee.
The humiliation just keeps rolling in for a Russia plagued by Putinomics. Russia can’t afford to host its Russian Open golf tournament this year, and when it can’t even maintain its matroshka nesting-doll industry, you know the writing is on the wall. National disgrace follows on national disgrace when you hand the reins of power to the an unqualified KGB spy.
We learned last week that Russia’s budgetary reserve fund shrank an amazing 12% last month, as the Kremlin squandered over 400 billion rubles to keep Russia’s current fiscal year from sliding into freefall. Well over one trillion rubles have now poured out of the fund since the ecnomic crisis begin. The Kremlin has seen its projected revenues plummet as demand for Russian oil and gas has evaporated; as we reported last week Gazprom, Russia’s leading industrial enterprise has seen its book value fall by two-thirds and slashed its dividend by nearly 90%. So it needs money to cover operating costs, and there are only three ways to get it: (1) print it (but then inflation would go crazy, and Russia already has double-digit inflation); (2) borrow it (but then Russia would become the helpless slave of the lenders) or (3) spend the rainy-day fund. It’s chosen the latter option, but the reserves are distinctly finite.
If Russia were to continue spending its budgetary reserve at this rate, it would not last 0ut the year, and the Kremlin would lose control of its budget in January 2010. And the fact is, spending may not simply continue at the current rate, it may dramatically accelerate if the price of oil falls or other government intervention is required, for instance to deal with defaulting loans. Soon, very soon, Russia will be at the mercy of foreign lenders just like the USSR always was, and its ability to deliver even the meager services it now provides to its desperate population will evaporate. The International Monetary Fund says Russia will experience no significant economic growth in 2010 after a massive contraction this year. The World Bank agrees. That means budget revenues won’t improve and the reserve will surely exhaust next year, if not this one.
The chart above declares, far more powerfully than any words ever could, how totally insane it is for Vladimir Putin to so aggressively pursue a new cold war with the United States. He shouldn’t need such economic data, of course, a simple study of history ought to sufifice.
Russia’s economic performance has been nearly four times worse than America’s over the past twelve months, more than twice as bad as Europe’s and comparable only to Japan, a tiny island with no raw material resources of any kind and a standard of living immeasurably higher than Russia’s. This ratio matches up perfectly with the report we carried in our last issue from a Russian economist showing that Russian workers are four times less productive than Americans.
“Buchenwald teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests. I have no patience for people who would deny history.”
– U.S. President Barack Obama in Dresden, Germany on June 5, 2009
If that is so, Mr. Obama will find his patience sorely tried when he visits Russia next month and looks into the eyes of unholy, history-denying evil.
Visiting Helskinki last week, Russian “prime minister” Vladimir Putin chose to use the occasion for yet another of his crazed aggressive diatribes in support of Russian imperialism. He stated in regard to gas shipments to Ukraine: “Gazprom will only supply the gas which has been prepaid. Without the gas pumped into storage, Ukraine will simply not survive and will be forced to take gas destined for transit. This may lead to a stoppage of gas transit to Europe in the end of June or start of July.”
An editorial in the Washington Post sounds the clarion call of warning on Russian aggression in Georgia:
A year ago, Russian military maneuvers and provocations of the former Soviet republic of Georgia caused a couple of astute observers to predict that Moscow was laying the groundwork for a military invasion of its democratic and pro-Western neighbor. The warnings were laughed off — until Russian forces poured across Georgia’s borders on the night of Aug. 7, routing the Georgian army and driving thousands of ethnic Georgians from two breakaway provinces. Ten months later, with another summer approaching, Russia is once again mounting provocations on the ground and in diplomatic forums; once again it has scheduled a large military training exercise for July in the region bordering Georgia.
Some in the Russophile and Russian nationalist set like to try to claim that Russian women are more beautiful than those from other countries. After the jump, we offer a beauty pagent of the seven seeded Russian women at the French Open tennis tournament last week. By way of rebuttal, we ask you the reader to choose the ugliest — and we put it to you that it’s a really tough call, so think carefully before you vote. Mind you, these are the official photographs of each player, taken from the official Roland Garros website this year. We haven’t selected them to make the contestants look bad. If you’d like to attempt an argument in favor of the world-beating allure of any of these classic Russian beauties, the comments are open to your attempt. If you think any other Russian female tennis player is even uglier and more worthy of the crown, let us know.
With an all-Russian ladies’ final taking place last week at the venerable Roland Garros stadium last week for the French Open, Russia should have been steeped in glory. Unfortunately, such was — as is so often the case for Russia — far from the case. Russian women suffered an amazing, unprecedented humiliation, and then there was their performance on the actual tennis courts of Roland Garros, which was even worse.
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