Annals of Putinomics
One third of Russia’s retail clothing businesses, 15,000 in all, will be shut down by the end of this year.
Russia’s second-largest bank posted a first quarter 2009 loss nearly twice as large as analysts had expected, as its bad loan portfolio exploded. Its third-largest oil company saw profits fall by half.
Milk farmers aggrieved by insane, Soviet-like consumer price controls that threaten them with bankruptcy are on the verge of mass insurrection.
Credit Suisse downgraded the Russian stock market, ridiculing it as “more than ever a pure oil play.”
Violence related to economic hardship is soaring.
The bad economic news continues to roll in from Russia like a tsunami.
How much bad news will it take, though, for the people of Russia to realize that the man at the helm doesn’t have the slightest clue what he is doing or how to staunch the massive flow of blood from the nation’s economic arteries?
Will Russians ever realize that someone who spent his entire life in the KGB learning how to lie, steal and kill simply isn’t qualified to run a complex economy even in good times, much less in bad ones?
Russia is embarking upon a long period of economic stagnation having squandered its oil boom windfall without any identifiable benefits to the population’s long-term health and welfare. Now, Russia will have to incur massive debt just to preserve the status quo and hold off massive street protests, which will inevitably come sooner or later and will be met with neo-Soviet violence.
Putin’s immediate response is to take a voyage in a submarine and pose with his shirt off, and to kill a few journalists and human rights activists in order to intimidate and further choke off the flow of information.
History is repeating itself in Russia.
The situation is not totally without hope. Some Russians are getting wise, fast. Paul Goble reports: “One in every four residents in a company town in the Urals blame Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for their economic woes and say that he and his government will not be able to solve them, according to a poll whose results were restricted to official use but which has been published by an independent regional news agency.”
Will it be fast enough to turn the tide? Will they have the courage to back up their ideas with actions? Time will tell.