Is Putin the Worst Russian Leader Ever?
We think so, and today we offer a wealth of evidence to support our position in form of a special issue devoted to answering this question. Barack Obama will soon be winging his way to Russia and will sit down with Putin to discuss all manner of things. Hopefully, the new American president has some vague clue about how how Putin is sticking it to the people of his country, and the world, in a fully neo-Soviet manner. Just a glance through today’s content would give him a major eye-opener.
Let’s begin with economics, which as Putin’s second term as “president” came to a conclusion was allegedly his long suit. Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov warned long ago that in fact Putin was nothing but yet another Potemkin village, doomed to collapse as surely as the USSR did. But the pro-Kremlin propaganda kept on rolling forth.
But the numbers are catching up with Mr. Putin, catching up fast. Just two months ago, the World Bank predicted Russia would have a 4% economic contraction this year. Now, it has doubled that estimate, in a report suggesting the contraction will be 8%, and the Russian Finance Ministry itself believes the WB is still being conservative. It’s quite possible that Putin’s Russia will end the year with a double-digit recession.
It would, in that event, match Russia’s projected unemployment and inflation rates for 2009, which the WB estimates will both top out at a horrifying 13%. And it would also match Russia’s projected loan default rate, which the WB believes will stand at 10% by year’s end.
It now appears that the Kremlin will be forced to nationalize all the major banks and exhaust the national treasury (Russia already faces a massive budget deficit this year) to recapitalize them. Between this year’s capital flight and its bank bailouts, Russia will be out at least $100 billion. Its budgetary reserves will vanish, its national debt will skyrocket and it will stand on the brink of insolvency.
The Putin economy is failing, by any measure, across the entire spectrum of economic activity. It has been exposed as a Potemkin sham, a system utterly dependent on how much foriegners are willing to pay for oil. It cannot serve the interests of the people, and it does not appear that Putin even wants it to. Putin is not qualified to manage a complex economy; he has no business or economics experience, and is trained only in deception and brute force. Therefore, his failure is hardly surprising.
Russians must now realize that they are being driven to ruin by this incompetence, that the Russian economy is as doomed to fail as was that of the USSR — the only type of economy Putin really knows. If they continue to allow themselves to be ruled by such a hapless neophyte, they will richly deserve the harsh consequences that will result.