Putin goes Potty
So, get this.
At a government meeting this past Monday, Russian “prime minister” Vladimir Putin said that it was “some kind of ugly thing, absolutely unfair” that the Russian stock market had lost 80% of its value in the past eight months because “decisions concerning which securities to buy or sell on Russian markets are, for the most part, made abroad. Moreover, the criteria by which these decisions are made have very little connection to the actual state of our economy or Russian companies.”
James Beadle of Pilgrim Asset Managment couldn’t quite agree. Beadle stated: “Russia’s situation has been, as we know, worse than most emerging markets. I put that down to the weak economic environment, the political risk and a lack of domestic investors.” Russia should have plenty of domestic investors, of course, given Putin’s claims of having raised the national income so dramatically. But it doesn’t, because in fact most of Russia’s oil windfall has been hoarded in the hands of a wealthy few, people who are now terrified to invest because Putin’s crazy forieign and domestic policies have left the nation without any sound economic fundamentals to lean on.
Comrade Putin’s remarks are, in other words, completely insane on two entirely different levels.
First, it totally false that Russia’s stock market collapse is the fault of evil foreigners. Did Putin give those same foreigners the credit when the market was roaring last spring? Of course not. Then it was all his doing. Only now, when things go bad, do we here about the role of foreigners. Does he believe that American companies, too, are being “unfairly” victimized? Of course not. Russia alone is the victim. Does he really believe that Russia should be able to attract foreign investment without incurring the risk of foreign judgments? Could he be that insane? This is Sovietspeak, the language of those whose only response to error is bloody violence, repression and concealment.
And second, if Russia’s stock market is really the helpless slave of the whims of the Western powers, is it really such a good idea for the central plank in Russia’s foreign policy platform to be provoking those powers into a new cold war? How can Putin justify taunting the U.S. in Venezuela, tormenting Germany with energy weaponization, and buzzing U.K. with nuclear bombers when those nations are capable of turning off Russia’s financial spigots at a moment’s notice? Shouldn’t Putin be trying to make friends?
Even as Putin was speaking, his generals were announcing yet another escalation of the new cold war’s arms race. As if they’d learned nothing from the financial collapse experienced by the USSR the last time it tried to mix the lethal cocktail of falling oil prices and rising arms race expenditures, as if they had no idea that the nation was experiencing an economic meltdown and that funds were needed for job creation and infrastructure, Russia’s generals plunged heedlessly down their path to self destruction. Reform in light of the crisis? Perish the thought! It was reported that the head of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, had signed an order barring officers from publicly discussing military reforms. That’s neo-Soviet Russia in a nutshell!
Thus, simultaneously, the giant ROSNEFT oil concern was announcing it had to take a massive loan from the government, totaling three quarters of a billion dollars, in order to refinance its massive foreign debt and avoid bankruptcy. Only months ago, Russia’s oil companies were awash in a sea of windfall profits and Russia’s “resurgence” was the topic of the day. Now, Russia’s oil companies are on the brink of destruction because the crazed cold war policies of the Putin regime have denied them the basic income they need to operate effectively. Putin has snatched away all their profits to build more nuclear weapons, and he dares to claim that the nation’s economic downfall has nothing to do with his government.