Once again, the World Economic Forum has found Russia to be bringing up the rear when surveyed for economic competitiveness and compared to the other nations in the so-called BRIC group. At #63, Russia’s rating remained totally unchanged from last year, no increase in competitiveness whatsoever. Well outside even the top 50 world nations, Russia is languishing in a backwater that gives it absolutely no basis for inclusion in lofty assemblages like the G-8 and the Security Council.
Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin can think only in terms of improving his country’s position on the list of nations ranked by GDP. But this measurement means nothing to the ordinary citizens of Russia since it does nothing more than take account of Russia’s oil and gas resources, which are not sufficient to make Russia a modern, comfortable, civilized country. Achieving that means competing with other nations in the world marketplace, something Putin totally ignores, and the result is that year after year Russia just can’t do it. You don’t even need this survey to know this: Just look around you and note the total absence of Russian manufactured goods for you to buy.
The World Bank has issued an unusually harsh condemnation of Putin’s policies, referring to “decomposition of export growth over 2000-08 period” that showed “no contribution of the increase of exports of new products to either new or old geographic markets to overall export performance. In Russia, the decline of services exports (from 11.4 percent of gross domestic product in 1999 to 7.6 percent of GDP in 2008) is unique among the BRIC countries .”
Russia’s position on the list is very similar to its place on a list of nations ranked by per capita nominal GDP, but a little bit worse, meaning Russia is not even able to compete on a dollar-for-dollar basis as well as other countries and is totally helpless to do anything more. The likes of Costa Rica and Vietnam are significantly more competitive than Russia and the USA towers above Russia mightily at #4.
Analyzing Russia, the report found that by far the most negative factor in the Russian economy was corruption, crime and theft. Also severely problematical were access to capital, cumbersome tax regulations and inflation. German Gref, the head of Sberbank, stated: ”It is becoming increasingly evident that the current growth model, which is centered on high oil prices and leveraged facilities, is no longer effective. New drivers of growth are needed for Russia to achieve sustainable development.”
Can Russians look to proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin for such new ideas? Hardly! Putin is a man whose ideas are mired in the past, who actively defends the fall of the USSR as a catastrophe and who vigorously seeks to bring back icons of the Soviet era. Even as the horrifying WEF indictment on corruption was being released, the Putin regime’s response was to announce it was lessening penalties on white-collar criminals, allowing them to buy their way out of trouble!
Yet Putin is even now planning a return to power as “president for life” no different than many other backwards nations on the planet like Egypt and Libya which have recently seen popular revolutions against such misrule. At the worst possible moment, when Russia needs an entirely new way of thinking, the plan is to make permanent a KGB-dominated regime that has its head mired firmly two or three decades in the past.
Putin has no training and no background which would permit him to think differently. All his life he has learned only one way of viewing the world. Now that Russia needs to change and deal with a competitive international marketplace, Putin is impotent, helpless, clueless and the worst possible thing for Russia.