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map-russia-gdp-of-gas-station

So this map has been sitting at the top of /r/MapPorn for the past day, and has been ReTweeted a bunch of times.

Of course this is measuring by nominal GDP.

Here is how the comparison would look like if you were to measure the Russian economy by PPP-adjusted GDP.

map-germany-highlight

Question: Which one should you use?

GDP (PPP-adjusted) is better for proxying:

  • National power (inc. military power, if the country in question has a largely self-sufficient military-industrial complex)
  • Real living standards in its per capita version
  • Historical comparisons of the above

GDP (nominal) is better for proxying:

  • Financial power
  • Various debt burden calculations, where said debts are denominated in foreign currencies
  • Most importantly these days, “proving” that Russia is a gas station with nukes

These Russia = Spain/Texas comparisons are beloved tropes of anti-Russian Western politicians, done to demonstrate that Russia is supposedly really weak, and argue for a more “resolute” stance towards Russia in terms of sanctions, Syria, Ukraine, etc.

But the supreme irony is that it is the PPP-adjusted comparison that become even more relevant if their proposals were to be seriously taken up.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Russia 
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  1. These Russia = Spain/Texas comparisons are beloved tropes of anti-Russian Western politicians, done to demonstrate that Russia is supposedly really weak,

    People who say things like that only demonstrate that they are illiterate troglodytes.

    I can’t even imagine how it’s possible to know so little about the world to believe something like Russia having a comparable economy to Spain.

    Another “powerful” method of analysis is looking at the Russian exports without looking at the imports and their percentage of the economy and what that low percentage suggests.

    Read More
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  2. These Russia = Spain/Texas comparisons are beloved tropes of anti-Russian Western politicians, done to demonstrate that Russia is supposedly really weak, and argue for a more “resolute” stance towards Russia in terms of sanctions, Syria, Ukraine, etc.

    But that is beside the point.

    Confrontations with Russia are contrary to America’s national and civilizational interests.

    If Russia were the weakest nation in the world, it would still be a mistake for the US government to engage in counter-productive confrontations with them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    I regret that I have but one "Agree" to give.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  3. Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.

    As with all data, it all depends on what you count. US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued, but it has a huge service sector with most economic interactions privatised and monetised. For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc… all of that adds dramatically to US GNP. Every time an over-priced house changes hands GNP goes up, it is all about activity and measuring it. Plus there is about a trillion in ‘military spending’, how much of that translates into something that people consume and benefit from? (Some might argue that a trillion dollar security system is the price of ‘freedom’, so there you go, it is a ‘consumable’ after all.)

    If the more socially generous countries would aggressively privatise everything from education to health care, from pensions to public transportation – they could add some real heft to their GNP. It is all about what you choose to count. Are poor people in rural Arkansas really better off than professionals in Riga or Sophia? The GNP/PPP numbers say so, but it is obviously nonsense.

    Russia is an interesting case: it has huge material resources and exports, relatively big consumption levels of actual staff. But it has an under-appreciated currency, small ‘service’ sector, and large parts of its ‘activities’ have not been monetised. I am willing to bet that 25-50 years from now the difference in real GNP/PPP per capita between the West and Russia will be very small. If anything, given the negative trends and coming Third World population explosions in the West, Russia might do better. That assumes no war and no new ‘westernising’ rage in Moscow.

    Maybe that’s why the Western rulers are so desperate to do something about Russia, anything, war, collapse, regime change, propaganda, anything to avoid the likely future of a relatively rich Russia that might not have some of the self-inflicted wounds that West has suffered. Then what? Some in the West will go to extreme lengths to prevent it. The main goal of what we are observing with regard to almost insane anti-Russia policies is to slow down Russia’s development. It will be volatile…

    Read More
    • Replies: @inertial

    For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc… all of that adds dramatically to US GNP.
     
    Nope. At least not by itself.

    Every time a house changes hands GNP goes up
     
    Nope.

    There are a lot of misconceptions about GDP/GNP.
    , @AP

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued
     
    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3


    Russia #8
    China #11

    , @Bardon Kaldian

    Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.
     
    I've long since come to the conclusion that economy is closer to magical rituals than to science, even the soft one. Of course, there are 40-60 variables that matter & not everything is unpredictable, but still...

    Everyone is wilding in 1929 & just 2-3 economists thought it might be some trouble in store. BOOM, Wall street panic. What was it? Oh, well....

    US president receives blowjob from an intern & stock market is in shock. So, there is a causal connection between blowjobs & stock markets. Wow, what a science ...
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  4. @Beckow
    Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.

    As with all data, it all depends on what you count. US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued, but it has a huge service sector with most economic interactions privatised and monetised. For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc... all of that adds dramatically to US GNP. Every time an over-priced house changes hands GNP goes up, it is all about activity and measuring it. Plus there is about a trillion in 'military spending', how much of that translates into something that people consume and benefit from? (Some might argue that a trillion dollar security system is the price of 'freedom', so there you go, it is a 'consumable' after all.)

    If the more socially generous countries would aggressively privatise everything from education to health care, from pensions to public transportation - they could add some real heft to their GNP. It is all about what you choose to count. Are poor people in rural Arkansas really better off than professionals in Riga or Sophia? The GNP/PPP numbers say so, but it is obviously nonsense.

    Russia is an interesting case: it has huge material resources and exports, relatively big consumption levels of actual staff. But it has an under-appreciated currency, small 'service' sector, and large parts of its 'activities' have not been monetised. I am willing to bet that 25-50 years from now the difference in real GNP/PPP per capita between the West and Russia will be very small. If anything, given the negative trends and coming Third World population explosions in the West, Russia might do better. That assumes no war and no new 'westernising' rage in Moscow.

    Maybe that's why the Western rulers are so desperate to do something about Russia, anything, war, collapse, regime change, propaganda, anything to avoid the likely future of a relatively rich Russia that might not have some of the self-inflicted wounds that West has suffered. Then what? Some in the West will go to extreme lengths to prevent it. The main goal of what we are observing with regard to almost insane anti-Russia policies is to slow down Russia's development. It will be volatile...

    For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc… all of that adds dramatically to US GNP.

    Nope. At least not by itself.

    Every time a house changes hands GNP goes up

    Nope.

    There are a lot of misconceptions about GDP/GNP.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Beckow

    Nope. At least not by itself.
     
    Of course not by itself. But the activity generated 'managing' or 'administering' financial instruments is counted as part of GNP. So is all activity related to home sales.

    Don't create a straw-man to fight. My point is that financial and other services are much more developed in the West, they count as 'economic activity'. So does monetised education, health care, etc... If you compare it to countries that don't monetise those services, you are going to be way off.
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  5. OT, but I’d have thought interesting. Here’s a piece from the Daily Beast that I saw because it was picked up by MSN, so quite high profile in MSM terms. Dugin I know is something of a bête noire for Anatoly, but the vast majority of people in the US sphere have never heard of him, and most who have, will have done so via propaganda screeds like this one.

    To understand one of the reasons why the US’s foreign policy is such a bipartisan catastrophe and its bipartisan foreign policy elite seemingly so distant from any prospect of their grasping reality, one need only contemplate that the writer of this by turns delusional and grossly dishonest piece of propaganda is an actual professor of international relations at a US university (the school Condi Rice attended, named for the father of Madeline Albright who taught there).

    The Far-Right Book Every Russian General Reads

    Nb this outright, shameless lie:

    Richard Spencer, David Duke, and others on the violent far right

    And this piece of delusional racial self(?)-hatred:

    Were Russia not a “White” power, furthering violent attacks on black and Latin people and on the wellbeing of most ordinary Americans, as well as the ugly empire Dugin projected in 1997 in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the U.S., one might see its stand against American aggression as morally justified.

    Which probably explains this flight of fantasy:

    “lean on the political forces of the African American racists,” by which he presumably means Black Lives Matter, which is in fact a nonviolent movement protesting police murders of innocents.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hyperborean

    Were Russia not a “White” power, furthering violent attacks on black and Latin people and on the wellbeing of most ordinary Americans, as well as the ugly empire Dugin projected in 1997 in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the U.S., one might see its stand against American aggression as morally justified.
     
    Darkly ironic considering the USSR's support for implicitly or explicitly anti-white forces in Latin America and Africa and the current Russian government's friendliness with such notorious and infamous bastions of white supremacy such as Cuba and Venezuela.
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  6. I’ve asked this question (whether to compare PPP or nominal incomes) to a friend who is professional economist.

    If I remember accurately what he says, the PPP is the more realistic measure to use if you look at people’s standard of living.

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.

    If you need to make comparisons of financial power between countries for purposes like trade (I believe you write this above), then nominal is relevant measure, as countries interact with each other in terms of payments in nominal currencies.

    So the ‘size of the Chinese market’ from a country exporting there – you would look at the nominal figures. But to get sense of scale of amount of stuff people are actually buying in China – then you generally need to look at the PPP figures.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.
     
    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge. So that is why some in developing Asia, notably China, prefer to look at nominal GDP. If your ambition in life is to remain a middle-income country for all eternity, then PPP is all that you need. But if you want to become high income, then arguably nominal per capita also deserves attention. Since when you become richer and richer, your PPP margin will become slimmer.

    Plus, PPP only covers non-tradables. The classic example is always a haircut. But rent, education costs, transportation costs(again, non-tradables, so we're talking train/metro tickets etc) as well as health costs is included in this. In fact, even in a developed economy like the UK, the bulk of household spending is on domestic non-tradables:

    https://i.imgur.com/Uk1viwk.png

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life - at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought - is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me. I have to pay the same cost for my hotel as a German. If I want to buy a GPU, similar story. A Tesla? Same.

    And, as I mentioned before, as a country grows richer, there will be a narrowing between their PPP-adjusted income per capita and their nominal income per capita. Those of us living in poorer countries will naturally prefer to only look at PPP per capita, because the other is not very flattering to us. but the truth is that you often need to look at both. For everyday life, PPP is better but for those finer moments in life or purchases which often raise your standard of living (whether it is experiences such as trips abroad or saving up for an expensive buy), nominal is often better. Ultimately, the PPP vs nominal debate has been raging for a long time and it will continue to rage for a long time. I'm skeptical of people who think that only one is required/useful. It depends for what purpose, in my humble opinion.
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  7. @Beckow
    Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.

    As with all data, it all depends on what you count. US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued, but it has a huge service sector with most economic interactions privatised and monetised. For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc... all of that adds dramatically to US GNP. Every time an over-priced house changes hands GNP goes up, it is all about activity and measuring it. Plus there is about a trillion in 'military spending', how much of that translates into something that people consume and benefit from? (Some might argue that a trillion dollar security system is the price of 'freedom', so there you go, it is a 'consumable' after all.)

    If the more socially generous countries would aggressively privatise everything from education to health care, from pensions to public transportation - they could add some real heft to their GNP. It is all about what you choose to count. Are poor people in rural Arkansas really better off than professionals in Riga or Sophia? The GNP/PPP numbers say so, but it is obviously nonsense.

    Russia is an interesting case: it has huge material resources and exports, relatively big consumption levels of actual staff. But it has an under-appreciated currency, small 'service' sector, and large parts of its 'activities' have not been monetised. I am willing to bet that 25-50 years from now the difference in real GNP/PPP per capita between the West and Russia will be very small. If anything, given the negative trends and coming Third World population explosions in the West, Russia might do better. That assumes no war and no new 'westernising' rage in Moscow.

    Maybe that's why the Western rulers are so desperate to do something about Russia, anything, war, collapse, regime change, propaganda, anything to avoid the likely future of a relatively rich Russia that might not have some of the self-inflicted wounds that West has suffered. Then what? Some in the West will go to extreme lengths to prevent it. The main goal of what we are observing with regard to almost insane anti-Russia policies is to slow down Russia's development. It will be volatile...

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued

    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3

    Russia #8
    China #11

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird
    In fairness, some of those Indian and Chinese cars are pretty bad. Europe I believe has heavy subsidies for aircraft. But, of course, the US does in the form of military contracts. For a while it looked as Europe might buy corrupt US officials into switching into European contracts. I'm glad they didn't though. The arms industry is nearly the only thing the US has left, and the US is obviously subsidizing Europe's defense.

    I think when Germany and Japan declared war on America, the US was making like 95% of cars. So, their leaders were basically both batshit insane.
    , @Beckow
    Maybe you should look up the meaning of 'relative'. Let me help: for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little. If you take the world's material production (manufacturing, farming), US's share is substantially less than US's reported share of global GNP. There are many reasons for that, incl. very heavy service and other component that US has developed - it is questionable whether we are comparing apples and apples when we compare economies around the world that are structured very differently.

    In other words, economies that have advanced monetisation of services (like US and many Western countries) end up overstating the effective size of their GNP. Not necessary bad, some of it is a consequence of having a more advances delivery of services, but keep that in mind when you compare countries. As I said, based on today's statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga (or Budapest, etc...). That is objectively not true, so the numbers are not fully comparable.
    , @Bliss
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    So in 2016 China made almost a million more motor vehicles than America, Japan and Germany combined. Or around 8 million more than all of Europe (including Russia).

    In just 11 years China almost quintupled it’s production. And it is still on the upward trajectory.

    The world is rapidly changing.

    , @LondonBob
    Russia is a natural resource country, you should compare it to Canada or Australia. Russian economy will likely remain natural resources with a military industrial complex, with tech spinouts resulting.
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  8. Is there a source that makes these types of comparisons based not on monetary measures, but based on actual tangible stuff and services where applicable? Such as, number of cars produced/purchased, number of washing machines produced/purchased, amount of food produced/consumed, public transportation km per passenger, medical services per patient, information services per consumer, etc.?

    All these monetary measures can be and are highly misleading unless one can account for how the money spent on X corresponds to the benefits accrued from X. Is it better to live as a Dane in Denmark making $50K a year and be happy, or to live as a whatever in the US making $200K a year while being miserable? (The answer is obvious, it just goes to show what GDP can’t capture.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be (haircut costs $1 in Nairobi and $20 in Iceland under nominal; are equal under PPP).
    , @RadicalCenter
    Not sure where one would have to live in the USA with $200 k annual income and supposedly be "miserable." The vast majority of Americans do not live in such a place. Then again, the great majority of US households don't earn an income of $200 k, either ;)
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  9. @Chet Bradley
    Is there a source that makes these types of comparisons based not on monetary measures, but based on actual tangible stuff and services where applicable? Such as, number of cars produced/purchased, number of washing machines produced/purchased, amount of food produced/consumed, public transportation km per passenger, medical services per patient, information services per consumer, etc.?

    All these monetary measures can be and are highly misleading unless one can account for how the money spent on X corresponds to the benefits accrued from X. Is it better to live as a Dane in Denmark making $50K a year and be happy, or to live as a whatever in the US making $200K a year while being miserable? (The answer is obvious, it just goes to show what GDP can't capture.)

    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be (haircut costs $1 in Nairobi and $20 in Iceland under nominal; are equal under PPP).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Chet Bradley

    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be
     
    Thanks, I get that. It's probably the best imperfect measure. But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids' hair, she won't have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids' hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won't go into GDP. But are we worse off for it? We saved not only money but also time by cutting kids' hair at home.

    People in US in particular, and west in general, outsource more of their life activities to providers in the paying economy. That inflates GDP but doesn't necessarily increase the quality of life, and in many cases decreases it (e.g. kids being watched by strangers for pay vs. by grandparents for free).

    Your "10 ways on why life in Russia is better than life in the US" described several areas, some in high-tech, where Russia is more advanced. So my poiont is, unless the totality of stuff and services that go into life are somehow equitably captured across different societies, I am not convinced that even PPP-adjusted GDP really shows how much one country is better or worse than any other.

    Also to give credit to Martyanov, on various occasions he described stuff, some but not all defense-related, that is made in Russia that simply cannot be made in Belgium or even Germany. Does that contribute to the "10 ways" you described? I am sure at least some of it does. Is it really captured in PPP GDP? I have no idea. But I do know that with economic metrics you can fudge the results any which way you like by tweaking the assumptions and methods.
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  10. @AP

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued
     
    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3


    Russia #8
    China #11

    In fairness, some of those Indian and Chinese cars are pretty bad. Europe I believe has heavy subsidies for aircraft. But, of course, the US does in the form of military contracts. For a while it looked as Europe might buy corrupt US officials into switching into European contracts. I’m glad they didn’t though. The arms industry is nearly the only thing the US has left, and the US is obviously subsidizing Europe’s defense.

    I think when Germany and Japan declared war on America, the US was making like 95% of cars. So, their leaders were basically both batshit insane.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Correct.

    My point was that the USA produces a lot, and those were some examples. Beckow's statement "US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued" is pure nonsense.
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  11. @John Gruskos

    These Russia = Spain/Texas comparisons are beloved tropes of anti-Russian Western politicians, done to demonstrate that Russia is supposedly really weak, and argue for a more “resolute” stance towards Russia in terms of sanctions, Syria, Ukraine, etc.
     
    But that is beside the point.

    Confrontations with Russia are contrary to America's national and civilizational interests.

    If Russia were the weakest nation in the world, it would still be a mistake for the US government to engage in counter-productive confrontations with them.

    I regret that I have but one “Agree” to give.

    Read More
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  12. @Chet Bradley
    Is there a source that makes these types of comparisons based not on monetary measures, but based on actual tangible stuff and services where applicable? Such as, number of cars produced/purchased, number of washing machines produced/purchased, amount of food produced/consumed, public transportation km per passenger, medical services per patient, information services per consumer, etc.?

    All these monetary measures can be and are highly misleading unless one can account for how the money spent on X corresponds to the benefits accrued from X. Is it better to live as a Dane in Denmark making $50K a year and be happy, or to live as a whatever in the US making $200K a year while being miserable? (The answer is obvious, it just goes to show what GDP can't capture.)

    Not sure where one would have to live in the USA with $200 k annual income and supposedly be “miserable.” The vast majority of Americans do not live in such a place. Then again, the great majority of US households don’t earn an income of $200 k, either ;)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Chet Bradley
    I didn't mean miserable materially; I meant it as a quality of life, as measured by happiness. That's why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.

    Plenty of people everywhere are stressed or miserable despite having high nominal income. The causes of their misery vary: rat race at work, family problems, low-trust societies they live in, crappy and corrupt government, crowding and pollution, you name it. There are only so many things from which you can isolate yourself by being rich; no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness, etc.
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  13. @songbird
    In fairness, some of those Indian and Chinese cars are pretty bad. Europe I believe has heavy subsidies for aircraft. But, of course, the US does in the form of military contracts. For a while it looked as Europe might buy corrupt US officials into switching into European contracts. I'm glad they didn't though. The arms industry is nearly the only thing the US has left, and the US is obviously subsidizing Europe's defense.

    I think when Germany and Japan declared war on America, the US was making like 95% of cars. So, their leaders were basically both batshit insane.

    Correct.

    My point was that the USA produces a lot, and those were some examples. Beckow’s statement “US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued” is pure nonsense.

    Read More
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  14. @Anatoly Karlin
    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be (haircut costs $1 in Nairobi and $20 in Iceland under nominal; are equal under PPP).

    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be

    Thanks, I get that. It’s probably the best imperfect measure. But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids’ hair, she won’t have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids’ hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won’t go into GDP. But are we worse off for it? We saved not only money but also time by cutting kids’ hair at home.

    People in US in particular, and west in general, outsource more of their life activities to providers in the paying economy. That inflates GDP but doesn’t necessarily increase the quality of life, and in many cases decreases it (e.g. kids being watched by strangers for pay vs. by grandparents for free).

    Your “10 ways on why life in Russia is better than life in the US” described several areas, some in high-tech, where Russia is more advanced. So my poiont is, unless the totality of stuff and services that go into life are somehow equitably captured across different societies, I am not convinced that even PPP-adjusted GDP really shows how much one country is better or worse than any other.

    Also to give credit to Martyanov, on various occasions he described stuff, some but not all defense-related, that is made in Russia that simply cannot be made in Belgium or even Germany. Does that contribute to the “10 ways” you described? I am sure at least some of it does. Is it really captured in PPP GDP? I have no idea. But I do know that with economic metrics you can fudge the results any which way you like by tweaking the assumptions and methods.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Yeah, sure, this is a factor. Russia started counting imputed rent in its GDP figures a couple of years ago, as is standard in the OECD; it went up by 5% or so. Since this is presumably by far the single biggest item in this category - especially in Russia, where ~90% of people still own their own homes - I don't expect further such adjustments will cardinally change the picture.

    The problem with Martyanov is that he often fails to quantify his assertions. It so happens that there are concrete measures of economic complexity: https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/rankings/country/eci/ , and Germany is certainly a more complex economy than Russia's - overall, anyway (I am sure there are some products that Russia can make that Germany can't, but Germany can make many more that Russia can't).
    , @inertial

    But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids’ hair, she won’t have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids’ hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won’t go into GDP. But are we worse off for it?
     
    No, of course not. But.

    You can cut your own hair. You can cut your own lawn. You can raise your own chickens, make your own furniture, churn your own butter, and so on. If you like doing all that, more power to you. You will lower the GDP and not be worse off.

    Most people are not like this though. They like to outsource this stuff if they can. The richer they are the more likely they pay people for stuff that in theory they could do themselves. Cut their hair, prepare their meals, walk their dogs, and so on. So counting this kind of services in GDP does express something real about the wealth of the society.
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  15. @RadicalCenter
    Not sure where one would have to live in the USA with $200 k annual income and supposedly be "miserable." The vast majority of Americans do not live in such a place. Then again, the great majority of US households don't earn an income of $200 k, either ;)

    I didn’t mean miserable materially; I meant it as a quality of life, as measured by happiness. That’s why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.

    Plenty of people everywhere are stressed or miserable despite having high nominal income. The causes of their misery vary: rat race at work, family problems, low-trust societies they live in, crappy and corrupt government, crowding and pollution, you name it. There are only so many things from which you can isolate yourself by being rich; no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness, etc.

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    • Replies: @AP

    That’s why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.
     
    Surveys that rate places like Denmark as the happiest in the world use ideological criteria such as "income equality" to come up with this figure.

    Surveys that simply ask people about how happy they are place Latin American countries as the happiest.

    no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness,
     
    In the NY area, Westchester or the Connecticut Gold Coast have clean leafy suburbs with polite people.
    , @RadicalCenter
    Understood. Thank you. Your last sentence is especially true, except that one can avoid commuting by buying an expensive place that's walkable to one's workplace, or by working online part of the time where that's available.
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  16. @Chet Bradley
    I didn't mean miserable materially; I meant it as a quality of life, as measured by happiness. That's why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.

    Plenty of people everywhere are stressed or miserable despite having high nominal income. The causes of their misery vary: rat race at work, family problems, low-trust societies they live in, crappy and corrupt government, crowding and pollution, you name it. There are only so many things from which you can isolate yourself by being rich; no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness, etc.

    That’s why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.

    Surveys that rate places like Denmark as the happiest in the world use ideological criteria such as “income equality” to come up with this figure.

    Surveys that simply ask people about how happy they are place Latin American countries as the happiest.

    no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness,

    In the NY area, Westchester or the Connecticut Gold Coast have clean leafy suburbs with polite people.

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  17. @Chet Bradley
    I didn't mean miserable materially; I meant it as a quality of life, as measured by happiness. That's why I used Denmark as an example, since it was recently reported that it was the happiest country in the world.

    Plenty of people everywhere are stressed or miserable despite having high nominal income. The causes of their misery vary: rat race at work, family problems, low-trust societies they live in, crappy and corrupt government, crowding and pollution, you name it. There are only so many things from which you can isolate yourself by being rich; no amount of wealth can isolate you from pollution, traffic congestion, rudeness, etc.

    Understood. Thank you. Your last sentence is especially true, except that one can avoid commuting by buying an expensive place that’s walkable to one’s workplace, or by working online part of the time where that’s available.

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  18. @AP

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued
     
    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3


    Russia #8
    China #11

    Maybe you should look up the meaning of ‘relative’. Let me help: for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little. If you take the world’s material production (manufacturing, farming), US’s share is substantially less than US’s reported share of global GNP. There are many reasons for that, incl. very heavy service and other component that US has developed – it is questionable whether we are comparing apples and apples when we compare economies around the world that are structured very differently.

    In other words, economies that have advanced monetisation of services (like US and many Western countries) end up overstating the effective size of their GNP. Not necessary bad, some of it is a consequence of having a more advances delivery of services, but keep that in mind when you compare countries. As I said, based on today’s statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga (or Budapest, etc…). That is objectively not true, so the numbers are not fully comparable.

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    • Replies: @AP
    Keep digging.

    Maybe you should look up the meaning of ‘relative’.
     
    Karlin's article was about comparing different countries. Relative to other countries, the USA manufactures a lot.

    for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little.
     
    Sure - you should have been more clear.

    If you take the world’s material production (manufacturing, farming), US’s share is substantially less than US’s reported share of global GNP.
     
    In 2016, USA accounted for 18% of the world's manufacturing:

    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42135.pdf

    In 2017, it accounted for 24% of the world's GDP:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/infographic-heres-how-the-global-gdp-is-divvied-up/

    While industry is underemphasized, USA is not producing "relatively little that can be materially counted and valued."

    based on today’s statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga
     
    I don't know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.
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  19. @inertial

    For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc… all of that adds dramatically to US GNP.
     
    Nope. At least not by itself.

    Every time a house changes hands GNP goes up
     
    Nope.

    There are a lot of misconceptions about GDP/GNP.

    Nope. At least not by itself.

    Of course not by itself. But the activity generated ‘managing’ or ‘administering’ financial instruments is counted as part of GNP. So is all activity related to home sales.

    Don’t create a straw-man to fight. My point is that financial and other services are much more developed in the West, they count as ‘economic activity’. So does monetised education, health care, etc… If you compare it to countries that don’t monetise those services, you are going to be way off.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think back in the day I read Paul Krugman writing about how US GDP might be overstated by several percentage points due to financial services which led to lower stability and so actually produced, if anything, negative value. I think it also constituted a large portion of the growth in the Bush the Lesser years.
    , @inertial
    But that's not a straw-man. I make money, now I want to invest it and/or protect. I buy shares in a mutual fund (or a bank CD, or an insurance policy, and so on.) The fees that I pay to these institutions are counted in the GNP and so they should. They provide me a real service.

    The richer the society, the more demand for financial services. It's very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.
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  20. @Beckow

    Nope. At least not by itself.
     
    Of course not by itself. But the activity generated 'managing' or 'administering' financial instruments is counted as part of GNP. So is all activity related to home sales.

    Don't create a straw-man to fight. My point is that financial and other services are much more developed in the West, they count as 'economic activity'. So does monetised education, health care, etc... If you compare it to countries that don't monetise those services, you are going to be way off.

    I think back in the day I read Paul Krugman writing about how US GDP might be overstated by several percentage points due to financial services which led to lower stability and so actually produced, if anything, negative value. I think it also constituted a large portion of the growth in the Bush the Lesser years.

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  21. Nothing to be ashamed of. Belgium and Holland are core economic centers of Europe since Middle Ages

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  22. Mr. Karlin, it brought tears into my eyes , your writting about Czech. And these hundreds of responses , all so good and full of feeling and unexpected understanding. Thanks a lot , Pavel.

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  23. @Beckow
    Maybe you should look up the meaning of 'relative'. Let me help: for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little. If you take the world's material production (manufacturing, farming), US's share is substantially less than US's reported share of global GNP. There are many reasons for that, incl. very heavy service and other component that US has developed - it is questionable whether we are comparing apples and apples when we compare economies around the world that are structured very differently.

    In other words, economies that have advanced monetisation of services (like US and many Western countries) end up overstating the effective size of their GNP. Not necessary bad, some of it is a consequence of having a more advances delivery of services, but keep that in mind when you compare countries. As I said, based on today's statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga (or Budapest, etc...). That is objectively not true, so the numbers are not fully comparable.

    Keep digging.

    Maybe you should look up the meaning of ‘relative’.

    Karlin’s article was about comparing different countries. Relative to other countries, the USA manufactures a lot.

    for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little.

    Sure – you should have been more clear.

    If you take the world’s material production (manufacturing, farming), US’s share is substantially less than US’s reported share of global GNP.

    In 2016, USA accounted for 18% of the world’s manufacturing:

    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42135.pdf

    In 2017, it accounted for 24% of the world’s GDP:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/infographic-heres-how-the-global-gdp-is-divvied-up/

    While industry is underemphasized, USA is not producing “relatively little that can be materially counted and valued.”

    based on today’s statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga

    I don’t know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

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    • Replies: @Beckow

    lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia
     
    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US? I don't know about Russia, that's why I chose Riga, Budapest, Sophia. Consumption is about more than a 'better car' or TV. Those are ('relatively') minor.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that. So he can drive around to his content (sometimes), but his life's choices are very limited. If I look at today's GNP/capita - and it says that the Arkansas poor people are 'richer' than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived. Things that should be included are not, and other factors are over-represented.

    Yeah, I should have been more clear - I agree. I always try. When talking about GNP or PPP (slightly better, but the 'uplift' is so random that it hardly helps), we need to keep in mind that these are accounting fictions based on a lot of subjective choices. Even something as basic as 'inflation' gets massaged all the time and if you would use a method from 10-20 years ago, your numbers would be different.
    , @The Big Red Scary
    I don’t know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

    Certainly it will take some time for Russia to converge to a Western standard of living, so Russia is perhaps not the best example to consider for this discussion. But part of the apparent disagreement stems from the subjective valuation of private versus public and social goods. Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer
    cultural and social life.

    One’s personal utility function may very well depend on other quantities and qualities which are hard to buy or to measure. Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms, but I've never looked back. On the other hand, some people will naturally make the opposite choice.
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  24. @Chet Bradley

    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be
     
    Thanks, I get that. It's probably the best imperfect measure. But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids' hair, she won't have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids' hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won't go into GDP. But are we worse off for it? We saved not only money but also time by cutting kids' hair at home.

    People in US in particular, and west in general, outsource more of their life activities to providers in the paying economy. That inflates GDP but doesn't necessarily increase the quality of life, and in many cases decreases it (e.g. kids being watched by strangers for pay vs. by grandparents for free).

    Your "10 ways on why life in Russia is better than life in the US" described several areas, some in high-tech, where Russia is more advanced. So my poiont is, unless the totality of stuff and services that go into life are somehow equitably captured across different societies, I am not convinced that even PPP-adjusted GDP really shows how much one country is better or worse than any other.

    Also to give credit to Martyanov, on various occasions he described stuff, some but not all defense-related, that is made in Russia that simply cannot be made in Belgium or even Germany. Does that contribute to the "10 ways" you described? I am sure at least some of it does. Is it really captured in PPP GDP? I have no idea. But I do know that with economic metrics you can fudge the results any which way you like by tweaking the assumptions and methods.

    Yeah, sure, this is a factor. Russia started counting imputed rent in its GDP figures a couple of years ago, as is standard in the OECD; it went up by 5% or so. Since this is presumably by far the single biggest item in this category – especially in Russia, where ~90% of people still own their own homes – I don’t expect further such adjustments will cardinally change the picture.

    The problem with Martyanov is that he often fails to quantify his assertions. It so happens that there are concrete measures of economic complexity: https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/rankings/country/eci/ , and Germany is certainly a more complex economy than Russia’s – overall, anyway (I am sure there are some products that Russia can make that Germany can’t, but Germany can make many more that Russia can’t).

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    • Replies: @Yevardian
    Look at Australia, below Egypt, Turkey and Macedonia, yikes!
    , @inertial
    According to this index, Russia has less complex economy than Malaysia and United Arab Emirates.
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  25. @AP

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued
     
    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3


    Russia #8
    China #11

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    So in 2016 China made almost a million more motor vehicles than America, Japan and Germany combined. Or around 8 million more than all of Europe (including Russia).

    In just 11 years China almost quintupled it’s production. And it is still on the upward trajectory.

    The world is rapidly changing.

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    • Agree: AP
    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    And China makes a billion more gas masks than America, Japan and Germany combined.
    , @MarkinLA
    It also depends on what you consider motor vehicles. Out in the far west of China - Xinjiang you see a lot of 3 wheeled low geared motorcycles used for delivering products. They gear them down so low that they can pack a huge amount of cargo. They don't go much faster than 25 MPH. Large trucks there are so simple they can be fixed by the side of the road but don't drive very fast on the crappy roads either.

    This was about 10 years ago but I doubt a lot has changed in that part of China.
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  26. @AP
    Keep digging.

    Maybe you should look up the meaning of ‘relative’.
     
    Karlin's article was about comparing different countries. Relative to other countries, the USA manufactures a lot.

    for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little.
     
    Sure - you should have been more clear.

    If you take the world’s material production (manufacturing, farming), US’s share is substantially less than US’s reported share of global GNP.
     
    In 2016, USA accounted for 18% of the world's manufacturing:

    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42135.pdf

    In 2017, it accounted for 24% of the world's GDP:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/infographic-heres-how-the-global-gdp-is-divvied-up/

    While industry is underemphasized, USA is not producing "relatively little that can be materially counted and valued."

    based on today’s statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga
     
    I don't know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

    lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia

    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US? I don’t know about Russia, that’s why I chose Riga, Budapest, Sophia. Consumption is about more than a ‘better car’ or TV. Those are (‘relatively’) minor.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that. So he can drive around to his content (sometimes), but his life’s choices are very limited. If I look at today’s GNP/capita – and it says that the Arkansas poor people are ‘richer’ than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived. Things that should be included are not, and other factors are over-represented.

    Yeah, I should have been more clear – I agree. I always try. When talking about GNP or PPP (slightly better, but the ‘uplift’ is so random that it hardly helps), we need to keep in mind that these are accounting fictions based on a lot of subjective choices. Even something as basic as ‘inflation’ gets massaged all the time and if you would use a method from 10-20 years ago, your numbers would be different.

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    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    You were already humiliated in your previous post, but instead of slinking away you chose to double down.

    So it falls on me to complete your humiliation.

    Why would a lower income person in Arkansas lack medical care, education, or a pension? These things are all available in Arkansas, including to lower income persons.

    And really, the metrics you chose are simply embarrassing. Medical care, "education", and pensions are only of concern to losers.
    , @LondonBob
    Apparently Australian car production will be zero this year. Canada produces two million plus, surprisingly, seems to be a sector tht has historically had a lot of support, but is in somewhat of a decline recently.
    , @AP

    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US?
     
    Arkansas - been there twice. Spent a couple nights there.

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that - a Russian physician wouldn't afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that
     
    Working class poor person in Arkansas may be on disability/social security (free medical care), had free secondary education but doesn't need or want higher education (but if so - scholarships are plentiful for poor people), and his ideas of a good time might involve hunting or fishing which he will be able to do easily. He will not miss the opera or theater.

    If I look at today’s GNP/capita – and it says that the Arkansas poor people are ‘richer’ than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived
     
    Statistics won't tell you that a homeless, dirt-poor addict in Arkansas is richer than a middle class person in Budapest. But a working class person with high school education probably is. You just value different things.
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  27. GDP measures the volume of money flowing through your economy. It’s useless as a practical measure of anything. (Unless you’re a banker.)

    Energy consumption and production are much more interesting real-world metrics.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Energy consumption is useless.

    My daddy’s old car two decades ago, and his next car both had roughly the same fuel consumption, but the second one was roughly 30% more powerful (and it felt so). Actually, I think it also had a slightly lower fuel consumption.

    Now, my car at the moment has roughly the same fuel consumption as those two old cars two decades ago, but it has three times the horsepower than the second car (and almost four times more than the older car), and it feels so much more powerful, too. It’s also a vastly better car by basically any metric, subjective or objective, like bigger, takes turns better, better handling, more comfortable, has a nice music player (playing music from my phone so I don’t have to interrupt my music or start a new one for the time I’m driving), has an automatic transmission (those old cars were both manual, a big discomfort in a traffic jam), has a parking radar and camera, etc.

    Yet the same energy consumption.

    Energy consumption cannot measure the advancement of electronics (which then could lead to advancements elsewhere, like my car’s electronic engine control system and similar, leading to higher power and lower fuel consumption), and needless to say the cultural consumption or healthcare (which others have complained about) are also not included.

    These were the measures which communists measured, and there’s a reason they are not considered good. There is no one good measure, but unfortunately GDP (for all its many problems) is still probably the best.
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  28. @Anatoly Karlin
    Yeah, sure, this is a factor. Russia started counting imputed rent in its GDP figures a couple of years ago, as is standard in the OECD; it went up by 5% or so. Since this is presumably by far the single biggest item in this category - especially in Russia, where ~90% of people still own their own homes - I don't expect further such adjustments will cardinally change the picture.

    The problem with Martyanov is that he often fails to quantify his assertions. It so happens that there are concrete measures of economic complexity: https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/rankings/country/eci/ , and Germany is certainly a more complex economy than Russia's - overall, anyway (I am sure there are some products that Russia can make that Germany can't, but Germany can make many more that Russia can't).

    Look at Australia, below Egypt, Turkey and Macedonia, yikes!

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  29. @Beckow

    lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia
     
    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US? I don't know about Russia, that's why I chose Riga, Budapest, Sophia. Consumption is about more than a 'better car' or TV. Those are ('relatively') minor.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that. So he can drive around to his content (sometimes), but his life's choices are very limited. If I look at today's GNP/capita - and it says that the Arkansas poor people are 'richer' than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived. Things that should be included are not, and other factors are over-represented.

    Yeah, I should have been more clear - I agree. I always try. When talking about GNP or PPP (slightly better, but the 'uplift' is so random that it hardly helps), we need to keep in mind that these are accounting fictions based on a lot of subjective choices. Even something as basic as 'inflation' gets massaged all the time and if you would use a method from 10-20 years ago, your numbers would be different.

    You were already humiliated in your previous post, but instead of slinking away you chose to double down.

    So it falls on me to complete your humiliation.

    Why would a lower income person in Arkansas lack medical care, education, or a pension? These things are all available in Arkansas, including to lower income persons.

    And really, the metrics you chose are simply embarrassing. Medical care, “education”, and pensions are only of concern to losers.

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    • Replies: @Beckow

    ...Medical care, “education”, and pensions are only of concern to losers...
     
    Right.

    Why would a lower income person in Arkansas lack medical care, education, or a pension?
     
    They don't 'lack it', they just pay more than their counterparts in Budapest, or similar places. That doesn't show up in 'GNP'. I hope you understand the difference between services that are free (state provided) versus monetised.

    Don't try to frame the discussion, as you start above. It is a sign of weakness. It has become pervasive among many in the West who lack arguments; they use declarative nonsense as if they were preachers. Let people speak for themselves.
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  30. @Dmitry
    I've asked this question (whether to compare PPP or nominal incomes) to a friend who is professional economist.

    If I remember accurately what he says, the PPP is the more realistic measure to use if you look at people's standard of living.

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.

    If you need to make comparisons of financial power between countries for purposes like trade (I believe you write this above), then nominal is relevant measure, as countries interact with each other in terms of payments in nominal currencies.

    So the 'size of the Chinese market' from a country exporting there - you would look at the nominal figures. But to get sense of scale of amount of stuff people are actually buying in China - then you generally need to look at the PPP figures.

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.

    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge. So that is why some in developing Asia, notably China, prefer to look at nominal GDP. If your ambition in life is to remain a middle-income country for all eternity, then PPP is all that you need. But if you want to become high income, then arguably nominal per capita also deserves attention. Since when you become richer and richer, your PPP margin will become slimmer.

    Plus, PPP only covers non-tradables. The classic example is always a haircut. But rent, education costs, transportation costs(again, non-tradables, so we’re talking train/metro tickets etc) as well as health costs is included in this. In fact, even in a developed economy like the UK, the bulk of household spending is on domestic non-tradables:

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life – at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought – is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me. I have to pay the same cost for my hotel as a German. If I want to buy a GPU, similar story. A Tesla? Same.

    And, as I mentioned before, as a country grows richer, there will be a narrowing between their PPP-adjusted income per capita and their nominal income per capita. Those of us living in poorer countries will naturally prefer to only look at PPP per capita, because the other is not very flattering to us. but the truth is that you often need to look at both. For everyday life, PPP is better but for those finer moments in life or purchases which often raise your standard of living (whether it is experiences such as trips abroad or saving up for an expensive buy), nominal is often better. Ultimately, the PPP vs nominal debate has been raging for a long time and it will continue to rage for a long time. I’m skeptical of people who think that only one is required/useful. It depends for what purpose, in my humble opinion.

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    • Replies: @melanf

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life – at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought – is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me.
     
    Coming out of this criterion for big countries more important GDP PPP; for small countries GDP nominal
    , @Dmitry

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge.
     

    With the disclaimer I am no economist, but simply try to remember outlines of what my friend who is professional economist was saying - your comment is in line with what he said. They consider both figures are useful to look at for different reasons. The nominal is a more 'really existing' figure, although the PPP can be very useful as well for an estimate of what is happening inside the country.

    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

     

    I think what you describe in the first paragraph is more a reflection of trade policy.

    Countries which are exporting price-sensitive manufacturing products, will devalue their currency to improve competitiveness of these exports in overseas market. This is what South Korea have explicitly done, to make their exports more competitive.

    In Israel, the dominant export sectors are probably considered less price-sensitive, or at least not enough for them to pursue South Korea style 'currency wars'.

    The divergence is also going to be due to the higher cost of living that comes from having to import most of their consumer products from countries which are far away - which is combined with the heavy regulation in imports (the cartel like importers take a large 'cut' from everything and products like cars can cost twice as much as in Europe, after all taxes and importer costs).

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  31. @AP
    Keep digging.

    Maybe you should look up the meaning of ‘relative’.
     
    Karlin's article was about comparing different countries. Relative to other countries, the USA manufactures a lot.

    for the size of the reported GNP ($18.57 billion in 2016), US economy produces relatively little.
     
    Sure - you should have been more clear.

    If you take the world’s material production (manufacturing, farming), US’s share is substantially less than US’s reported share of global GNP.
     
    In 2016, USA accounted for 18% of the world's manufacturing:

    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42135.pdf

    In 2017, it accounted for 24% of the world's GDP:

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/24/infographic-heres-how-the-global-gdp-is-divvied-up/

    While industry is underemphasized, USA is not producing "relatively little that can be materially counted and valued."

    based on today’s statistic a poor person in Arkansas looks like he is living better than a doctor in Riga
     
    I don't know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

    I don’t know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

    Certainly it will take some time for Russia to converge to a Western standard of living, so Russia is perhaps not the best example to consider for this discussion. But part of the apparent disagreement stems from the subjective valuation of private versus public and social goods. Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer
    cultural and social life.

    One’s personal utility function may very well depend on other quantities and qualities which are hard to buy or to measure. Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms, but I’ve never looked back. On the other hand, some people will naturally make the opposite choice.

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    • Replies: @AP

    Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer cultural and social life.
     
    If you mean Germany vs. USA, perhaps. But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also. Cleveland has one of the top 5 world's symphony orchestras, for example. Chicago has some of the world's best museums and theaters, and Lake Michigan is much warmer than the Baltic or North seas in summer. And with double or triple the income, one can easily afford a frequent and very comfortable vacations to cultured places. A friend, a dermatologist, typically spends a month a year in a very lavish place in Italy.

    Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms,
     
    That's not bad, for Russia. I might have taken such a deal too. I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife's apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA. I have a friend, who as a young surgeon, who in order to support his family and live normally, made the decision to give up his career in order to sell high-end home entertainment equipment to wealthy people. It worked out.
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  32. @Beckow
    Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.

    As with all data, it all depends on what you count. US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued, but it has a huge service sector with most economic interactions privatised and monetised. For example, the mindless churn of financial wizards on Wall Street, the endless private pensions accounts, etc... all of that adds dramatically to US GNP. Every time an over-priced house changes hands GNP goes up, it is all about activity and measuring it. Plus there is about a trillion in 'military spending', how much of that translates into something that people consume and benefit from? (Some might argue that a trillion dollar security system is the price of 'freedom', so there you go, it is a 'consumable' after all.)

    If the more socially generous countries would aggressively privatise everything from education to health care, from pensions to public transportation - they could add some real heft to their GNP. It is all about what you choose to count. Are poor people in rural Arkansas really better off than professionals in Riga or Sophia? The GNP/PPP numbers say so, but it is obviously nonsense.

    Russia is an interesting case: it has huge material resources and exports, relatively big consumption levels of actual staff. But it has an under-appreciated currency, small 'service' sector, and large parts of its 'activities' have not been monetised. I am willing to bet that 25-50 years from now the difference in real GNP/PPP per capita between the West and Russia will be very small. If anything, given the negative trends and coming Third World population explosions in the West, Russia might do better. That assumes no war and no new 'westernising' rage in Moscow.

    Maybe that's why the Western rulers are so desperate to do something about Russia, anything, war, collapse, regime change, propaganda, anything to avoid the likely future of a relatively rich Russia that might not have some of the self-inflicted wounds that West has suffered. Then what? Some in the West will go to extreme lengths to prevent it. The main goal of what we are observing with regard to almost insane anti-Russia policies is to slow down Russia's development. It will be volatile...

    Both GNP and PPP are at their core accounting fictions. They are interesting for some comparisons, but they are not in a real sense accurate.

    I’ve long since come to the conclusion that economy is closer to magical rituals than to science, even the soft one. Of course, there are 40-60 variables that matter & not everything is unpredictable, but still…

    Everyone is wilding in 1929 & just 2-3 economists thought it might be some trouble in store. BOOM, Wall street panic. What was it? Oh, well….

    US president receives blowjob from an intern & stock market is in shock. So, there is a causal connection between blowjobs & stock markets. Wow, what a science …

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  33. OT question to AK (if you are reading): do you have any updates on the major rebuilding effort in Moscow? I’m thinking of the 20-25 year plan which supposedly would raze a lot of old residential buildings and replace them. I believe you wrote about this a few years ago, though I can’t seem to find the link. I was just wondering if there are any news on this is proceeding (if at all).

    It would be a shame, I think:

    That’s Moscow. Greenery and close proximity to amenities are two (often forgotten) benefits of the old apartment blocs. Maybe the Russian urban planners are better than in Poland, but we often don’t get as many trees back as we lose when there are redevelopment efforts. The outskirts of Warsaw are still quite leafy and green, but that could be changing and that’s why I’m also interested in how things are proceeding in Moscow. It could be a proxy/framework to look at. Are there any concept drawings out?

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Sure, I wrote about it here: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/one-city-three-protests/ (#3)

    tl;dr - your assessment is correct. The khrushchevki are being torn down to make way for higher quality, more expensive housing; former residents are getting relocated to the outskirts in more modern but bigger, soulless concrete blocks that are commonly known as muraveiniki (antheaps).
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  34. @Bliss
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    So in 2016 China made almost a million more motor vehicles than America, Japan and Germany combined. Or around 8 million more than all of Europe (including Russia).

    In just 11 years China almost quintupled it’s production. And it is still on the upward trajectory.

    The world is rapidly changing.

    And China makes a billion more gas masks than America, Japan and Germany combined.

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  35. @Polish Perspective

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.
     
    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge. So that is why some in developing Asia, notably China, prefer to look at nominal GDP. If your ambition in life is to remain a middle-income country for all eternity, then PPP is all that you need. But if you want to become high income, then arguably nominal per capita also deserves attention. Since when you become richer and richer, your PPP margin will become slimmer.

    Plus, PPP only covers non-tradables. The classic example is always a haircut. But rent, education costs, transportation costs(again, non-tradables, so we're talking train/metro tickets etc) as well as health costs is included in this. In fact, even in a developed economy like the UK, the bulk of household spending is on domestic non-tradables:

    https://i.imgur.com/Uk1viwk.png

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life - at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought - is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me. I have to pay the same cost for my hotel as a German. If I want to buy a GPU, similar story. A Tesla? Same.

    And, as I mentioned before, as a country grows richer, there will be a narrowing between their PPP-adjusted income per capita and their nominal income per capita. Those of us living in poorer countries will naturally prefer to only look at PPP per capita, because the other is not very flattering to us. but the truth is that you often need to look at both. For everyday life, PPP is better but for those finer moments in life or purchases which often raise your standard of living (whether it is experiences such as trips abroad or saving up for an expensive buy), nominal is often better. Ultimately, the PPP vs nominal debate has been raging for a long time and it will continue to rage for a long time. I'm skeptical of people who think that only one is required/useful. It depends for what purpose, in my humble opinion.

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life – at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought – is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me.

    Coming out of this criterion for big countries more important GDP PPP; for small countries GDP nominal

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  36. @AP

    US produces relatively little that can be materially counted and valued
     
    Just some examples:

    Motor vehicle production:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    China: 28 million
    USA: 12 million
    Japan: 9 million
    Germany: 6 million
    India: 4.5 million
    South Korea: 4 million
    France: 2 million
    UK: 1.8 million
    Russia: 1.3 million

    List of aircraft and spacecrafts exporters:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_aircraft_and_spacecraft_exports

    USA #1
    France #2
    Germany #3


    Russia #8
    China #11

    Russia is a natural resource country, you should compare it to Canada or Australia. Russian economy will likely remain natural resources with a military industrial complex, with tech spinouts resulting.

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    • Replies: @melanf

    Russia is a natural resource country, you should compare it to Canada or Australia.
     
    As far as I remember, the share of foreign trade in GDP is much lower in Russia than in Australia or Canada
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  37. @Polish Perspective
    OT question to AK (if you are reading): do you have any updates on the major rebuilding effort in Moscow? I'm thinking of the 20-25 year plan which supposedly would raze a lot of old residential buildings and replace them. I believe you wrote about this a few years ago, though I can't seem to find the link. I was just wondering if there are any news on this is proceeding (if at all).

    It would be a shame, I think:

    https://i.imgur.com/RIzLW1b.jpg

    That's Moscow. Greenery and close proximity to amenities are two (often forgotten) benefits of the old apartment blocs. Maybe the Russian urban planners are better than in Poland, but we often don't get as many trees back as we lose when there are redevelopment efforts. The outskirts of Warsaw are still quite leafy and green, but that could be changing and that's why I'm also interested in how things are proceeding in Moscow. It could be a proxy/framework to look at. Are there any concept drawings out?

    Sure, I wrote about it here: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/one-city-three-protests/ (#3)

    tl;dr – your assessment is correct. The khrushchevki are being torn down to make way for higher quality, more expensive housing; former residents are getting relocated to the outskirts in more modern but bigger, soulless concrete blocks that are commonly known as muraveiniki (antheaps).

    Read More
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  38. I suppose the other issue would be how is the grey economy accounted for? Russian public officials still seem to be found with half the national debt of Liberia stuffed down the back of the sofa.

    Secondly Russia has perhaps the lowest public and private debt in the world, is this counted for?

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    • Replies: @melanf
    the results of the IMF study: in Russia (according to the IMF) underground, shadow economy is more than 30% of GDP.
    http://www.imf.org/en/publications/wp/issues/2018/01/25/shadow-economies-around-the-world-what-did-we-learn-over-the-last-20-years-45583
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  39. @LondonBob
    Russia is a natural resource country, you should compare it to Canada or Australia. Russian economy will likely remain natural resources with a military industrial complex, with tech spinouts resulting.

    Russia is a natural resource country, you should compare it to Canada or Australia.

    As far as I remember, the share of foreign trade in GDP is much lower in Russia than in Australia or Canada

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  40. @LondonBob
    I suppose the other issue would be how is the grey economy accounted for? Russian public officials still seem to be found with half the national debt of Liberia stuffed down the back of the sofa.

    Secondly Russia has perhaps the lowest public and private debt in the world, is this counted for?

    the results of the IMF study: in Russia (according to the IMF) underground, shadow economy is more than 30% of GDP.

    http://www.imf.org/en/publications/wp/issues/2018/01/25/shadow-economies-around-the-world-what-did-we-learn-over-the-last-20-years-45583

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  41. @anonymous coward
    GDP measures the volume of money flowing through your economy. It's useless as a practical measure of anything. (Unless you're a banker.)

    Energy consumption and production are much more interesting real-world metrics.

    Energy consumption is useless.

    My daddy’s old car two decades ago, and his next car both had roughly the same fuel consumption, but the second one was roughly 30% more powerful (and it felt so). Actually, I think it also had a slightly lower fuel consumption.

    Now, my car at the moment has roughly the same fuel consumption as those two old cars two decades ago, but it has three times the horsepower than the second car (and almost four times more than the older car), and it feels so much more powerful, too. It’s also a vastly better car by basically any metric, subjective or objective, like bigger, takes turns better, better handling, more comfortable, has a nice music player (playing music from my phone so I don’t have to interrupt my music or start a new one for the time I’m driving), has an automatic transmission (those old cars were both manual, a big discomfort in a traffic jam), has a parking radar and camera, etc.

    Yet the same energy consumption.

    Energy consumption cannot measure the advancement of electronics (which then could lead to advancements elsewhere, like my car’s electronic engine control system and similar, leading to higher power and lower fuel consumption), and needless to say the cultural consumption or healthcare (which others have complained about) are also not included.

    These were the measures which communists measured, and there’s a reason they are not considered good. There is no one good measure, but unfortunately GDP (for all its many problems) is still probably the best.

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    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
    • Replies: @anonymous coward

    Energy consumption is useless.
     
    No. Energy is real-world "stuff", a direct measure of things produced and consumed and thus material wealth.

    Now you're right that wealth isn't a measure of quality of life (and being rich can, in fact, make you and the world around you more miserable), but these are intangibles that have nothing to do with economics.
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  42. @Beckow

    lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia
     
    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US? I don't know about Russia, that's why I chose Riga, Budapest, Sophia. Consumption is about more than a 'better car' or TV. Those are ('relatively') minor.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that. So he can drive around to his content (sometimes), but his life's choices are very limited. If I look at today's GNP/capita - and it says that the Arkansas poor people are 'richer' than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived. Things that should be included are not, and other factors are over-represented.

    Yeah, I should have been more clear - I agree. I always try. When talking about GNP or PPP (slightly better, but the 'uplift' is so random that it hardly helps), we need to keep in mind that these are accounting fictions based on a lot of subjective choices. Even something as basic as 'inflation' gets massaged all the time and if you would use a method from 10-20 years ago, your numbers would be different.

    Apparently Australian car production will be zero this year. Canada produces two million plus, surprisingly, seems to be a sector tht has historically had a lot of support, but is in somewhat of a decline recently.

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  43. @Beckow

    lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia
     
    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US? I don't know about Russia, that's why I chose Riga, Budapest, Sophia. Consumption is about more than a 'better car' or TV. Those are ('relatively') minor.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that. So he can drive around to his content (sometimes), but his life's choices are very limited. If I look at today's GNP/capita - and it says that the Arkansas poor people are 'richer' than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived. Things that should be included are not, and other factors are over-represented.

    Yeah, I should have been more clear - I agree. I always try. When talking about GNP or PPP (slightly better, but the 'uplift' is so random that it hardly helps), we need to keep in mind that these are accounting fictions based on a lot of subjective choices. Even something as basic as 'inflation' gets massaged all the time and if you would use a method from 10-20 years ago, your numbers would be different.

    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US?

    Arkansas – been there twice. Spent a couple nights there.

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that – a Russian physician wouldn’t afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that

    Working class poor person in Arkansas may be on disability/social security (free medical care), had free secondary education but doesn’t need or want higher education (but if so – scholarships are plentiful for poor people), and his ideas of a good time might involve hunting or fishing which he will be able to do easily. He will not miss the opera or theater.

    If I look at today’s GNP/capita – and it says that the Arkansas poor people are ‘richer’ than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived

    Statistics won’t tell you that a homeless, dirt-poor addict in Arkansas is richer than a middle class person in Budapest. But a working class person with high school education probably is. You just value different things.

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    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that – a Russian physician wouldn’t afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.
     

    Aren't East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.

    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:


     

    That's, um, fanciful. I'm tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks. When the snide remark of "If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find" for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.

    They're not that pretty, let's put it that way. Where do you think the rusted grills have to go?

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  44. @The Big Red Scary
    I don’t know about Riga but economically a lower middle class or working class person in Arkansas would be living better than a doctor in Russia (one not working for a private clinic). He would have more living space, a better car, a better TV, etc.

    Certainly it will take some time for Russia to converge to a Western standard of living, so Russia is perhaps not the best example to consider for this discussion. But part of the apparent disagreement stems from the subjective valuation of private versus public and social goods. Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer
    cultural and social life.

    One’s personal utility function may very well depend on other quantities and qualities which are hard to buy or to measure. Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms, but I've never looked back. On the other hand, some people will naturally make the opposite choice.

    Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer cultural and social life.

    If you mean Germany vs. USA, perhaps. But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also. Cleveland has one of the top 5 world’s symphony orchestras, for example. Chicago has some of the world’s best museums and theaters, and Lake Michigan is much warmer than the Baltic or North seas in summer. And with double or triple the income, one can easily afford a frequent and very comfortable vacations to cultured places. A friend, a dermatologist, typically spends a month a year in a very lavish place in Italy.

    Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms,

    That’s not bad, for Russia. I might have taken such a deal too. I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife’s apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA. I have a friend, who as a young surgeon, who in order to support his family and live normally, made the decision to give up his career in order to sell high-end home entertainment equipment to wealthy people. It worked out.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Big Red Scary
    But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also.

    I am familiar with some of the nicer Midwestern cities, and surely I could again get used to living there if it was a necessity (indeed, I considered it when I had a job offer). For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it's almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.
    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships.

    I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife’s apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA.

    From what I can tell, the state health care system has a long way to go. Private clinics are however abundant and surprisingly affordable. As Thorfinnson said, medical care is a problem for "losers". Alas, there are a great many people of the older generation who failed to make the transition from the USSR to modern Russia and ended us as losers.

    It seems that the situation in Moscow has improved somewhat since you were offered a job:

    https://moskva.trud.com/salary/693/3811.html

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat. Some of my colleagues from less well-funded research institutes make about this much, and have fairly comfortable lives. Certainly they can afford TVs and modern if modest cars, though they go on bargain holidays at resorts in Turkey rather than in posh palaces of Italy. A number of them had and could have again higher paying jobs abroad, but choose to stay in Moscow. Revealed preference.

    Anyhow, Russia is neither AWESOME nor TERRIBLE. But it seems to be getting better.
    , @The Big Red Scary
    That’s not bad, for Russia.

    I should add that having a salary one-third of what you would have in the US is fairly comfortable for day to day expenses in Russia, but because of high interest rates and underdeveloped finance, you can't (or shouldn't) just go get a mortgage and live in your own house. This is a disadvantage, but on the other hand, in a few years you could have the money to outright buy a modest house within commuting distance of Moscow.
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  45. well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house

    Yeah, the trailers. There are literally millions of them that look like something out of Middle Ages strewn all over US countryside. If that is the superior ‘living space’ you have referred to, well, contra gustos, no hay disputas.

    Working class poor person in Arkansas may be on disability/social security…doesn’t need or want higher education

    What percentage of regular working people are on disability in Arkansas? Are you kidding? And they don’t ‘want’ education? You are really reaching now. The reality is that most working and middle income people pay large amounts for medical care, or don’t have any. They do want education, but it is too expensive. You are painting a rosy picture that simply doesn’t match reality.

    The statistics today definitely show that an Arkansas working person has higher GNP/capita than a doctor in Budapest or Riga. So how can that be right? If you include in GNP numbers the crucial things that make life easier and possible (medical care, schools, pensions, public transportation, culture….), the comparisons look very different.

    Oh, I know, they just go fishing in Arkansas, so it is ok then….

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    • Replies: @AP

    There are literally millions of them that look like something out of Middle Ages strewn all over US countryside. If that is the superior ‘living space’ you have referred to, well, contra gustos, no hay disputas.
     
    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:

    http://i.yochicago.com/images/hpmain/288/277288.jpg

    Not some run-down garbage.

    Probably the bottom 10% live in such places. Yes, it's nicer than Soviet-style housing.

    What percentage of regular working people are on disability in Arkansas?
     
    3.5% of the general population in Arkansas received disability payments. That's a lot more % of poor people.

    12% of Arkansas people under 65 get free healthcare (over 65 everyone gets it for basically free). That's most poor people.

    Some people do fall between the cracks - people who are not poor enough to get free healthcare, but to poor to pay for their own insurance. This is a minority. There are also problems with medications for some people. Such cases are sad and leftists dramatize them but they are not as common as you think.

    And they don’t ‘want’ education?
     
    Many don't. Why does this surprise you.

    The statistics today definitely show that an Arkansas working person has higher GNP/capita than a doctor in Budapest or Riga
     
    In 2012 the average physician in Hungary made $756 month, or $9,000 dollars a year. A "lower middle class" income in Arkansas is $27,000 (median is $40,000).

    So a lower middle class, high-school educated worker in Arkansas makes 3 times what a Hungarian doctor makes. I agree with you that the discrepancy is not as wide as that in reality, but despite that the Hungarian physician is still poorer than is the lower middle class Arkansan.

    And Arkansas is one of the poorer states.
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  46. @Thorfinnsson
    You were already humiliated in your previous post, but instead of slinking away you chose to double down.

    So it falls on me to complete your humiliation.

    Why would a lower income person in Arkansas lack medical care, education, or a pension? These things are all available in Arkansas, including to lower income persons.

    And really, the metrics you chose are simply embarrassing. Medical care, "education", and pensions are only of concern to losers.

    …Medical care, “education”, and pensions are only of concern to losers…

    Right.

    Why would a lower income person in Arkansas lack medical care, education, or a pension?

    They don’t ‘lack it’, they just pay more than their counterparts in Budapest, or similar places. That doesn’t show up in ‘GNP’. I hope you understand the difference between services that are free (state provided) versus monetised.

    Don’t try to frame the discussion, as you start above. It is a sign of weakness. It has become pervasive among many in the West who lack arguments; they use declarative nonsense as if they were preachers. Let people speak for themselves.

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  47. It’s Russophrenia. Bryan McDonald: “A condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.”

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland’s Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.

    “Powerful takes” here about Russia’s nominal GDP and Russia in general:

    Predicting Putin’s future:

    gotta find a country that will protect him from extradition… if the new system wants him

    Some guy with almost 600K Twitter followers:

    El Chapo and Putin have one thing in common: El Chapo is to Mexico the same way Putin is to Russia. They are both criminals.

    Russia expertise:

    In 2015 median income for RU was $871 annually US – abt $56,000. This will land on Putin’s head – hilarious if Trump helps Navalny election

    Mixing up monthly and annual incomes? They really believe that Russian incomes are 64 times smaller? Do they think that Russian population is that of China and India combined or something? Also, Putlerreich is supposed to be a totalitarian dictatorship, but The Dark Lord could still somehow lose to Navalny?

    Russia is a failed petro economy with life expectancy falling off a cliff.

    You mean rapidly increasing?

    It’s a mess. The Russian people are suffering. It’s illegal to protest. They can do nothing.

    Of course, those type of comments are nothing new at this point, but I really try to avoid that kind of stuff as much as possible, so it always “shocks” me a little bit every time I see it. How can people be that… deranged? Do they really think they have any idea what they are talking about (Russia, the world, GDP…)? Why comment? After reading “takes” like these, it’s no wonder that people believe in Russiagate, and really anything they’re told about Russia.

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    • Agree: Randal
    • Replies: @Pavlo
    Russophrenia indeed.

    Russophobes have a genuine mental illness that cannot generally be cured by anything less than the intervention of God.

    In most cases the condition can be managed only through palliative care*.


    *Refer to the ending of Mice and Men for a demonstration of a suitable care regimen.
    , @Jon0815

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland’s Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.
     
    In 1991, the USSR had the world's 7th largest GDP, just behind the UK, while Russia alone ranked #10, just behind Spain.

    At its post-Soviet low in 1999, Russia ranked #23, just behind Austria, with a GDP of only $195 billion, vs. $700 billion for the Netherlands and Belgium.

    In 2016 Russia was #12, and within a handful of years it will probably surpass South Korea and Canada to reclaim the #10 spot, just behind Italy and Brazil.

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  48. @AP

    Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer cultural and social life.
     
    If you mean Germany vs. USA, perhaps. But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also. Cleveland has one of the top 5 world's symphony orchestras, for example. Chicago has some of the world's best museums and theaters, and Lake Michigan is much warmer than the Baltic or North seas in summer. And with double or triple the income, one can easily afford a frequent and very comfortable vacations to cultured places. A friend, a dermatologist, typically spends a month a year in a very lavish place in Italy.

    Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms,
     
    That's not bad, for Russia. I might have taken such a deal too. I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife's apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA. I have a friend, who as a young surgeon, who in order to support his family and live normally, made the decision to give up his career in order to sell high-end home entertainment equipment to wealthy people. It worked out.

    But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also.

    I am familiar with some of the nicer Midwestern cities, and surely I could again get used to living there if it was a necessity (indeed, I considered it when I had a job offer). For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it’s almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.
    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships.

    I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife’s apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA.

    From what I can tell, the state health care system has a long way to go. Private clinics are however abundant and surprisingly affordable. As Thorfinnson said, medical care is a problem for “losers”. Alas, there are a great many people of the older generation who failed to make the transition from the USSR to modern Russia and ended us as losers.

    It seems that the situation in Moscow has improved somewhat since you were offered a job:

    https://moskva.trud.com/salary/693/3811.html

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat. Some of my colleagues from less well-funded research institutes make about this much, and have fairly comfortable lives. Certainly they can afford TVs and modern if modest cars, though they go on bargain holidays at resorts in Turkey rather than in posh palaces of Italy. A number of them had and could have again higher paying jobs abroad, but choose to stay in Moscow. Revealed preference.

    Anyhow, Russia is neither AWESOME nor TERRIBLE. But it seems to be getting better.

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    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @AP

    For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it’s almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.
     
    I find it bizarre that so many Muscovites have given up on their spectacular Metro, to sit in probkas in their cars.


    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships
     
    Or you can be friends with Russian emigres in the USA :-)

    I miss the freewheeling long political discussions over alcohol with diverse viewpoints and intelligent people. Karlin's blog is some of that, it's why I'm here.

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat.
     
    If it's less than 1/10 (vs. 1/3, in your case) then the equation becomes overwhelming against Russia. I would probably have taken 1/3. I think you made the right choice.
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  49. @Anatoly Karlin
    Yeah, sure, this is a factor. Russia started counting imputed rent in its GDP figures a couple of years ago, as is standard in the OECD; it went up by 5% or so. Since this is presumably by far the single biggest item in this category - especially in Russia, where ~90% of people still own their own homes - I don't expect further such adjustments will cardinally change the picture.

    The problem with Martyanov is that he often fails to quantify his assertions. It so happens that there are concrete measures of economic complexity: https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/rankings/country/eci/ , and Germany is certainly a more complex economy than Russia's - overall, anyway (I am sure there are some products that Russia can make that Germany can't, but Germany can make many more that Russia can't).

    According to this index, Russia has less complex economy than Malaysia and United Arab Emirates.

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Still top 30 and above Finland, Australia. :)
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  50. @AP

    Sure, European doctors might be happy to double the size of their houses and drive newer cars. But they might very well be willing to forgo quadrupling the size of their houses and driving sports cars in order to have a richer cultural and social life.
     
    If you mean Germany vs. USA, perhaps. But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also. Cleveland has one of the top 5 world's symphony orchestras, for example. Chicago has some of the world's best museums and theaters, and Lake Michigan is much warmer than the Baltic or North seas in summer. And with double or triple the income, one can easily afford a frequent and very comfortable vacations to cultured places. A friend, a dermatologist, typically spends a month a year in a very lavish place in Italy.

    Speaking for myself, I could be a bigger “winner” in the US than I am in Russia (or other parts of Europe), but my social, scientific, and cultural life on this side of the ocean are richer. When I took my present job in Russia, I had an offer in the US with a salary three times greater in nominal terms,
     
    That's not bad, for Russia. I might have taken such a deal too. I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife's apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA. I have a friend, who as a young surgeon, who in order to support his family and live normally, made the decision to give up his career in order to sell high-end home entertainment equipment to wealthy people. It worked out.

    That’s not bad, for Russia.

    I should add that having a salary one-third of what you would have in the US is fairly comfortable for day to day expenses in Russia, but because of high interest rates and underdeveloped finance, you can’t (or shouldn’t) just go get a mortgage and live in your own house. This is a disadvantage, but on the other hand, in a few years you could have the money to outright buy a modest house within commuting distance of Moscow.

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  51. @Beckow

    Nope. At least not by itself.
     
    Of course not by itself. But the activity generated 'managing' or 'administering' financial instruments is counted as part of GNP. So is all activity related to home sales.

    Don't create a straw-man to fight. My point is that financial and other services are much more developed in the West, they count as 'economic activity'. So does monetised education, health care, etc... If you compare it to countries that don't monetise those services, you are going to be way off.

    But that’s not a straw-man. I make money, now I want to invest it and/or protect. I buy shares in a mutual fund (or a bank CD, or an insurance policy, and so on.) The fees that I pay to these institutions are counted in the GNP and so they should. They provide me a real service.

    The richer the society, the more demand for financial services. It’s very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.

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    • Replies: @Beckow

    It’s very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.
     
    Yes, but understand that you are counting something that in many other societies is provided mostly by state pensions. Privatising it inflates GNP without adding any real goods to the market. In US financial services are approaching 15% of the overall GNP. That's great, and I see that you value it. But as with paying one trillion dollars to 'preserve freedom', you are paying a lot to buy future security. In countries that have solid state pension protections, or don't aspire to assure liberty for all around the world, people may not value it as much.

    My point is that GNP calculations are to some extent subjective. Comparing similar societies, e.g. Sweden and Austria makes sense. Comparing countries that are very different in the way they are structured makes less sense. PPP only adjusts for purchasing power, the structural (almost civilisational) differences are not considered.

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  52. @Chet Bradley

    This is what PPP-adjusted GDP is meant to be
     
    Thanks, I get that. It's probably the best imperfect measure. But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids' hair, she won't have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids' hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won't go into GDP. But are we worse off for it? We saved not only money but also time by cutting kids' hair at home.

    People in US in particular, and west in general, outsource more of their life activities to providers in the paying economy. That inflates GDP but doesn't necessarily increase the quality of life, and in many cases decreases it (e.g. kids being watched by strangers for pay vs. by grandparents for free).

    Your "10 ways on why life in Russia is better than life in the US" described several areas, some in high-tech, where Russia is more advanced. So my poiont is, unless the totality of stuff and services that go into life are somehow equitably captured across different societies, I am not convinced that even PPP-adjusted GDP really shows how much one country is better or worse than any other.

    Also to give credit to Martyanov, on various occasions he described stuff, some but not all defense-related, that is made in Russia that simply cannot be made in Belgium or even Germany. Does that contribute to the "10 ways" you described? I am sure at least some of it does. Is it really captured in PPP GDP? I have no idea. But I do know that with economic metrics you can fudge the results any which way you like by tweaking the assumptions and methods.

    But what I had in mind goes deeper: if my wife cuts my kids’ hair, she won’t have to drive to the salon, wait in line, wait while kids’ hair is getting cut, and drive back. Money not spent on paying the hairdresser and for extra gas and mileage won’t go into GDP. But are we worse off for it?

    No, of course not. But.

    You can cut your own hair. You can cut your own lawn. You can raise your own chickens, make your own furniture, churn your own butter, and so on. If you like doing all that, more power to you. You will lower the GDP and not be worse off.

    Most people are not like this though. They like to outsource this stuff if they can. The richer they are the more likely they pay people for stuff that in theory they could do themselves. Cut their hair, prepare their meals, walk their dogs, and so on. So counting this kind of services in GDP does express something real about the wealth of the society.

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  53. @The Big Red Scary
    But there is good cultural or other life in the American provinces, also.

    I am familiar with some of the nicer Midwestern cities, and surely I could again get used to living there if it was a necessity (indeed, I considered it when I had a job offer). For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it's almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.
    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships.

    I had the opportunity to work at a hospital for ~$300 per month (which would have meant, really, living off the rent from one of my wife’s apartments), a small fraction of what I make in the USA.

    From what I can tell, the state health care system has a long way to go. Private clinics are however abundant and surprisingly affordable. As Thorfinnson said, medical care is a problem for "losers". Alas, there are a great many people of the older generation who failed to make the transition from the USSR to modern Russia and ended us as losers.

    It seems that the situation in Moscow has improved somewhat since you were offered a job:

    https://moskva.trud.com/salary/693/3811.html

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat. Some of my colleagues from less well-funded research institutes make about this much, and have fairly comfortable lives. Certainly they can afford TVs and modern if modest cars, though they go on bargain holidays at resorts in Turkey rather than in posh palaces of Italy. A number of them had and could have again higher paying jobs abroad, but choose to stay in Moscow. Revealed preference.

    Anyhow, Russia is neither AWESOME nor TERRIBLE. But it seems to be getting better.

    For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it’s almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.

    I find it bizarre that so many Muscovites have given up on their spectacular Metro, to sit in probkas in their cars.

    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships

    Or you can be friends with Russian emigres in the USA :-)

    I miss the freewheeling long political discussions over alcohol with diverse viewpoints and intelligent people. Karlin’s blog is some of that, it’s why I’m here.

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat.

    If it’s less than 1/10 (vs. 1/3, in your case) then the equation becomes overwhelming against Russia. I would probably have taken 1/3. I think you made the right choice.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    I find it bizarre that so many Muscovites have given up on their spectacular Metro, to sit in probkas in their cars.
     
    Good for me, being near the end of the most overcrowded line.
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  54. @inertial
    But that's not a straw-man. I make money, now I want to invest it and/or protect. I buy shares in a mutual fund (or a bank CD, or an insurance policy, and so on.) The fees that I pay to these institutions are counted in the GNP and so they should. They provide me a real service.

    The richer the society, the more demand for financial services. It's very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.

    It’s very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.

    Yes, but understand that you are counting something that in many other societies is provided mostly by state pensions. Privatising it inflates GNP without adding any real goods to the market. In US financial services are approaching 15% of the overall GNP. That’s great, and I see that you value it. But as with paying one trillion dollars to ‘preserve freedom‘, you are paying a lot to buy future security. In countries that have solid state pension protections, or don’t aspire to assure liberty for all around the world, people may not value it as much.

    My point is that GNP calculations are to some extent subjective. Comparing similar societies, e.g. Sweden and Austria makes sense. Comparing countries that are very different in the way they are structured makes less sense. PPP only adjusts for purchasing power, the structural (almost civilisational) differences are not considered.

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    • Replies: @inertial
    If pensions are provided by the government the costs of doing so is also counted in GDP - as part of the government expenditure.

    But financial services are about a lot more than pensions. What do you think Bill Gates' largest expense? I can bet that it's the fees he pays for managing his wealth. The more wealth there is, the more complicated the job of managing it, the more disproportionally expensive the service. USA has 25% of the world's wealth and, in addition, a lot of international wealth invested and/or parked in it. That's a lot of wealth.

    Is 15% of the GDP spent on managing that much wealth too much or too little? I don't know. It seems reasonable to me. I notice that everyone who says it's too much has an agenda.
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  55. @Beckow

    well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house
     
    Yeah, the trailers. There are literally millions of them that look like something out of Middle Ages strewn all over US countryside. If that is the superior 'living space' you have referred to, well, contra gustos, no hay disputas.

    Working class poor person in Arkansas may be on disability/social security...doesn’t need or want higher education
     
    What percentage of regular working people are on disability in Arkansas? Are you kidding? And they don't 'want' education? You are really reaching now. The reality is that most working and middle income people pay large amounts for medical care, or don't have any. They do want education, but it is too expensive. You are painting a rosy picture that simply doesn't match reality.

    The statistics today definitely show that an Arkansas working person has higher GNP/capita than a doctor in Budapest or Riga. So how can that be right? If you include in GNP numbers the crucial things that make life easier and possible (medical care, schools, pensions, public transportation, culture....), the comparisons look very different.

    Oh, I know, they just go fishing in Arkansas, so it is ok then....

    There are literally millions of them that look like something out of Middle Ages strewn all over US countryside. If that is the superior ‘living space’ you have referred to, well, contra gustos, no hay disputas.

    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:

    Not some run-down garbage.

    Probably the bottom 10% live in such places. Yes, it’s nicer than Soviet-style housing.

    What percentage of regular working people are on disability in Arkansas?

    3.5% of the general population in Arkansas received disability payments. That’s a lot more % of poor people.

    12% of Arkansas people under 65 get free healthcare (over 65 everyone gets it for basically free). That’s most poor people.

    Some people do fall between the cracks – people who are not poor enough to get free healthcare, but to poor to pay for their own insurance. This is a minority. There are also problems with medications for some people. Such cases are sad and leftists dramatize them but they are not as common as you think.

    And they don’t ‘want’ education?

    Many don’t. Why does this surprise you.

    The statistics today definitely show that an Arkansas working person has higher GNP/capita than a doctor in Budapest or Riga

    In 2012 the average physician in Hungary made $756 month, or $9,000 dollars a year. A “lower middle class” income in Arkansas is $27,000 (median is $40,000).

    So a lower middle class, high-school educated worker in Arkansas makes 3 times what a Hungarian doctor makes. I agree with you that the discrepancy is not as wide as that in reality, but despite that the Hungarian physician is still poorer than is the lower middle class Arkansan.

    And Arkansas is one of the poorer states.

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    • Replies: @Beckow
    Thou do protest way too much :)... and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one? I have driven around those places and they are mostly complete sh.tholes, the trailer parks that look like Third World slums, filth, fat people of undetermined origin lingering on porches. Majority with no access to health care, no hope for education, no way to move around except with an old beat up pick up truck. Not a good life by any standards.

    So, no, thank you for trying, but the numbers are way off - what you see is the reserve currency over-valuation and the result of monetising every human activity. So they get the 'numbers', good for them. In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.

    But I don't think I will convince you. There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality. So you are down to celebrating disabled fishermen in trailer parks and their 'superior' living standards. Right.
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  56. @AP

    Have you been to Arkansas? Or most of the less developed parts of US?
     
    Arkansas - been there twice. Spent a couple nights there.

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that - a Russian physician wouldn't afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.

    My point is that a teacher in Budapest has basic medical care, education, pension, and a lot more cultural consumption. Lower income person in Arkansas has none of that
     
    Working class poor person in Arkansas may be on disability/social security (free medical care), had free secondary education but doesn't need or want higher education (but if so - scholarships are plentiful for poor people), and his ideas of a good time might involve hunting or fishing which he will be able to do easily. He will not miss the opera or theater.

    If I look at today’s GNP/capita – and it says that the Arkansas poor people are ‘richer’ than Budapest professionals, there is obviously something wrong with how the numbers are derived
     
    Statistics won't tell you that a homeless, dirt-poor addict in Arkansas is richer than a middle class person in Budapest. But a working class person with high school education probably is. You just value different things.

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that – a Russian physician wouldn’t afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.

    Aren’t East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.

    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:

    That’s, um, fanciful. I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks. When the snide remark of “If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find” for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.

    They’re not that pretty, let’s put it that way. Where do you think the rusted grills have to go?

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    • Replies: @Randal

    I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks
     
    I'd recommend using a cheap phone/camera and being ready to drive off smartish....
    , @AP

    Aren’t East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.
     
    Correct. We were discussing physicians.

    There are exceptions. I know of one physician in Moscow, who was very wealthy, with a new S-class Mercedes. He was responsible for determining whether or not someone's brian had stopped functioning - so their organs could be harvested by those in need. Nothing shady there...


    That’s, um, fanciful. I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks
     
    I decided to google "trailer park near Chicago." The first result was "Chief Mobile Home park." You can look it up yourself, it looks normal (images weren't jpegs so I couldn't paste here).

    Here is the first image in the upper left that came up for Indiana:

    http://www.sundancemanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/0003_HICKORY-MANOR-25.jpg

    Trailer park Maryland:

    http://www.aacounty.org/sebin/l/k/trailerPark.jpg

    Cars are better than ones a physician in Russia could afford (if he can afford any).

    When the snide remark of “If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find” for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.
     
    Sure, people there are poor and because they are also white, they are an acceptable butt of such jokes. I suspect the recent opioid epidemic has hit these areas badly also.
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  57. @Beckow

    It’s very legitimate to count them as economic activity as they they do measure something real.
     
    Yes, but understand that you are counting something that in many other societies is provided mostly by state pensions. Privatising it inflates GNP without adding any real goods to the market. In US financial services are approaching 15% of the overall GNP. That's great, and I see that you value it. But as with paying one trillion dollars to 'preserve freedom', you are paying a lot to buy future security. In countries that have solid state pension protections, or don't aspire to assure liberty for all around the world, people may not value it as much.

    My point is that GNP calculations are to some extent subjective. Comparing similar societies, e.g. Sweden and Austria makes sense. Comparing countries that are very different in the way they are structured makes less sense. PPP only adjusts for purchasing power, the structural (almost civilisational) differences are not considered.

    If pensions are provided by the government the costs of doing so is also counted in GDP – as part of the government expenditure.

    But financial services are about a lot more than pensions. What do you think Bill Gates’ largest expense? I can bet that it’s the fees he pays for managing his wealth. The more wealth there is, the more complicated the job of managing it, the more disproportionally expensive the service. USA has 25% of the world’s wealth and, in addition, a lot of international wealth invested and/or parked in it. That’s a lot of wealth.

    Is 15% of the GDP spent on managing that much wealth too much or too little? I don’t know. It seems reasonable to me. I notice that everyone who says it’s too much has an agenda.

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    • Replies: @Beckow
    The cost of providing state benefits, from pensions to medical care to education, is a fraction of what those services generate when they are privatised. My point is that in more 'socialised' systems the GNP is artificially lower because of the political choices they made. I am not defending it, but we need to keep it in mind when comparing economies.

    Now for US: the wealth management and the security business (defence, etc...) account for a substantial percentage of the reported GNP. Some of it is valuable, but is all of it really providing any tangible benefit? When you realise that most of it is funded with debt and fiat money (having a reserve currency is great), it becomes more questionable. To create out of thin air a few trillion dollars and then spend them on 'protecting freedom around the world', or on 'managing that wealth just created out of mostly thin air', well, one wonders how real it is. But enjoy it, it will not last forever,
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  58. @Daniel Chieh

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that – a Russian physician wouldn’t afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.
     

    Aren't East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.

    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:


     

    That's, um, fanciful. I'm tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks. When the snide remark of "If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find" for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.

    They're not that pretty, let's put it that way. Where do you think the rusted grills have to go?

    I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks

    I’d recommend using a cheap phone/camera and being ready to drive off smartish….

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  59. @inertial
    According to this index, Russia has less complex economy than Malaysia and United Arab Emirates.

    Still top 30 and above Finland, Australia. :)

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  60. @Polish Perspective

    But a wide divergence between nominal and PPP a symptom itself of lower incomes and cheaper labour.
     
    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge. So that is why some in developing Asia, notably China, prefer to look at nominal GDP. If your ambition in life is to remain a middle-income country for all eternity, then PPP is all that you need. But if you want to become high income, then arguably nominal per capita also deserves attention. Since when you become richer and richer, your PPP margin will become slimmer.

    Plus, PPP only covers non-tradables. The classic example is always a haircut. But rent, education costs, transportation costs(again, non-tradables, so we're talking train/metro tickets etc) as well as health costs is included in this. In fact, even in a developed economy like the UK, the bulk of household spending is on domestic non-tradables:

    https://i.imgur.com/Uk1viwk.png

    So PPP matters, but then again: do people live for rent or health care or transportation costs? Most of the finer things in life - at least if we restrict ourselves to that which can be bought - is often done in nominal terms. If I want a vacation to Vietnam, PPP is not going to help me. I have to pay the same cost for my hotel as a German. If I want to buy a GPU, similar story. A Tesla? Same.

    And, as I mentioned before, as a country grows richer, there will be a narrowing between their PPP-adjusted income per capita and their nominal income per capita. Those of us living in poorer countries will naturally prefer to only look at PPP per capita, because the other is not very flattering to us. but the truth is that you often need to look at both. For everyday life, PPP is better but for those finer moments in life or purchases which often raise your standard of living (whether it is experiences such as trips abroad or saving up for an expensive buy), nominal is often better. Ultimately, the PPP vs nominal debate has been raging for a long time and it will continue to rage for a long time. I'm skeptical of people who think that only one is required/useful. It depends for what purpose, in my humble opinion.

    Generally speaking, I find it useful to look at both PPP and nominal GDP. As a country grows richer, their PPP per capita and nominal per capita will converge.

    With the disclaimer I am no economist, but simply try to remember outlines of what my friend who is professional economist was saying – your comment is in line with what he said. They consider both figures are useful to look at for different reasons. The nominal is a more ‘really existing’ figure, although the PPP can be very useful as well for an estimate of what is happening inside the country.

    It depends. Typically a country with a wide divergence between PPP and nominal GDP, especially one which has a decent economic base, is a country which has a much more efficient manufacturing sector.

    Taiwan is a classic example of this. It has world-class manufacturing companies but a relatively inefficient service sector. Since most people employed are in the services sector, they offer their services at relatively cheap prices due to poor productivity which in turn limits wage growth. The result is that their PPP per capita is very, very high whereas their nominal per capita is quite middling (around Slovenia). This happens when growth is manufacturing-led for a long time. Over time, this discrepancy will shrink as services will become more efficient.

    However, things can turn in the other direction, too. Israel is a good example of this, their PPP per capita is lower than their nominal per capita. This is for the same reason as in Taiwan, but in their case it is because of lack of competition in the domestic market. Israel, despite the propaganda, is a heavily regulated country with a lot of (informal) barriers. There were major protests in 2011 over cost of living. Food is notoriously expensive, but there are many other examples.

    I think what you describe in the first paragraph is more a reflection of trade policy.

    Countries which are exporting price-sensitive manufacturing products, will devalue their currency to improve competitiveness of these exports in overseas market. This is what South Korea have explicitly done, to make their exports more competitive.

    In Israel, the dominant export sectors are probably considered less price-sensitive, or at least not enough for them to pursue South Korea style ‘currency wars’.

    The divergence is also going to be due to the higher cost of living that comes from having to import most of their consumer products from countries which are far away – which is combined with the heavy regulation in imports (the cartel like importers take a large ‘cut’ from everything and products like cars can cost twice as much as in Europe, after all taxes and importer costs).

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  61. @reiner Tor
    Energy consumption is useless.

    My daddy’s old car two decades ago, and his next car both had roughly the same fuel consumption, but the second one was roughly 30% more powerful (and it felt so). Actually, I think it also had a slightly lower fuel consumption.

    Now, my car at the moment has roughly the same fuel consumption as those two old cars two decades ago, but it has three times the horsepower than the second car (and almost four times more than the older car), and it feels so much more powerful, too. It’s also a vastly better car by basically any metric, subjective or objective, like bigger, takes turns better, better handling, more comfortable, has a nice music player (playing music from my phone so I don’t have to interrupt my music or start a new one for the time I’m driving), has an automatic transmission (those old cars were both manual, a big discomfort in a traffic jam), has a parking radar and camera, etc.

    Yet the same energy consumption.

    Energy consumption cannot measure the advancement of electronics (which then could lead to advancements elsewhere, like my car’s electronic engine control system and similar, leading to higher power and lower fuel consumption), and needless to say the cultural consumption or healthcare (which others have complained about) are also not included.

    These were the measures which communists measured, and there’s a reason they are not considered good. There is no one good measure, but unfortunately GDP (for all its many problems) is still probably the best.

    Energy consumption is useless.

    No. Energy is real-world “stuff”, a direct measure of things produced and consumed and thus material wealth.

    Now you’re right that wealth isn’t a measure of quality of life (and being rich can, in fact, make you and the world around you more miserable), but these are intangibles that have nothing to do with economics.

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    You didn’t address my point at all. My car uses the same amount of fuel as my father’s car used twenty years ago. My house uses roughly the same amount of natural gas for heating. So, I have the same energy consumption. But my house is somewhat larger and is better quality and better equipped, while my car is significantly larger and also much faster and stronger.

    So, despite the same energy consumption (which, unless I misunderstood something, you’d characterize as having the same wealth), my living standards are significantly higher: I have a much better car (a similarly equipped car of the same size with similar acceleration, handling, etc. twenty years ago would have been a full-size luxury sedan) and the house would also be significantly more expensive. Not to mention the electronics of which even the richest guys couldn’t even dream of twenty years ago, like having hundreds of CDs on my smartphone, playing them on the speakers at home, then continuing to play the same thing in the car without ever having to change CDs while driving, then continuing to listen to the same music through the headphones while walking to the office. And surfing the internet whenever I need to find something without having to find a netcafe first...

    Another example is weapons. A dozen modern warplanes could defeat a hundred 1950s jet fighters using less energy. Are they equivalent simply because you cannot easily measure the quality difference?

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  62. @Kimppis
    It's Russophrenia. Bryan McDonald: "A condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world."

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What's next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland's Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.

    "Powerful takes" here about Russia's nominal GDP and Russia in general:

    https://twitter.com/20committee/status/904902484153573376

    Predicting Putin's future:

    gotta find a country that will protect him from extradition... if the new system wants him
     
    Some guy with almost 600K Twitter followers:

    El Chapo and Putin have one thing in common: El Chapo is to Mexico the same way Putin is to Russia. They are both criminals.
     
    Russia expertise:

    In 2015 median income for RU was $871 annually US - abt $56,000. This will land on Putin's head - hilarious if Trump helps Navalny election
     
    Mixing up monthly and annual incomes? They really believe that Russian incomes are 64 times smaller? Do they think that Russian population is that of China and India combined or something? Also, Putlerreich is supposed to be a totalitarian dictatorship, but The Dark Lord could still somehow lose to Navalny?

    Russia is a failed petro economy with life expectancy falling off a cliff.
     
    You mean rapidly increasing?

    It's a mess. The Russian people are suffering. It's illegal to protest. They can do nothing.
     
    Of course, those type of comments are nothing new at this point, but I really try to avoid that kind of stuff as much as possible, so it always "shocks" me a little bit every time I see it. How can people be that... deranged? Do they really think they have any idea what they are talking about (Russia, the world, GDP...)? Why comment? After reading "takes" like these, it's no wonder that people believe in Russiagate, and really anything they're told about Russia.

    Russophrenia indeed.

    Russophobes have a genuine mental illness that cannot generally be cured by anything less than the intervention of God.

    In most cases the condition can be managed only through palliative care*.

    *Refer to the ending of Mice and Men for a demonstration of a suitable care regimen.

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  63. @AP

    There are literally millions of them that look like something out of Middle Ages strewn all over US countryside. If that is the superior ‘living space’ you have referred to, well, contra gustos, no hay disputas.
     
    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:

    http://i.yochicago.com/images/hpmain/288/277288.jpg

    Not some run-down garbage.

    Probably the bottom 10% live in such places. Yes, it's nicer than Soviet-style housing.

    What percentage of regular working people are on disability in Arkansas?
     
    3.5% of the general population in Arkansas received disability payments. That's a lot more % of poor people.

    12% of Arkansas people under 65 get free healthcare (over 65 everyone gets it for basically free). That's most poor people.

    Some people do fall between the cracks - people who are not poor enough to get free healthcare, but to poor to pay for their own insurance. This is a minority. There are also problems with medications for some people. Such cases are sad and leftists dramatize them but they are not as common as you think.

    And they don’t ‘want’ education?
     
    Many don't. Why does this surprise you.

    The statistics today definitely show that an Arkansas working person has higher GNP/capita than a doctor in Budapest or Riga
     
    In 2012 the average physician in Hungary made $756 month, or $9,000 dollars a year. A "lower middle class" income in Arkansas is $27,000 (median is $40,000).

    So a lower middle class, high-school educated worker in Arkansas makes 3 times what a Hungarian doctor makes. I agree with you that the discrepancy is not as wide as that in reality, but despite that the Hungarian physician is still poorer than is the lower middle class Arkansan.

    And Arkansas is one of the poorer states.

    Thou do protest way too much :)… and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one? I have driven around those places and they are mostly complete sh.tholes, the trailer parks that look like Third World slums, filth, fat people of undetermined origin lingering on porches. Majority with no access to health care, no hope for education, no way to move around except with an old beat up pick up truck. Not a good life by any standards.

    So, no, thank you for trying, but the numbers are way off – what you see is the reserve currency over-valuation and the result of monetising every human activity. So they get the ‘numbers’, good for them. In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.

    But I don’t think I will convince you. There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality. So you are down to celebrating disabled fishermen in trailer parks and their ‘superior’ living standards. Right.

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    • Replies: @AP

    and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one?
     
    It was on the first page of google image.

    Here is another one, literally the first image that came up through googleimage:

    https://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2015/04/1024px-Trailerpark.jpg.696x0_q70_crop-smart.jpg

    The truck and car are better than what most Russian physicians can afford.

    They have a bad reputation so there are funny photos but in general they beat khrushchovki.

    They are popular with retirees. Florida is full of places like this:

    http://www.carefreecommunities.com/files/img/resorts/new-ranch/New%20Ranch%20low%20res-4.jpg

    In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.
     
    If the professional is living off $9,000 a year (average for a physician in Hungary), versus someone in Arkansas living off $27,000 a year (median income for lower middle class Arkansas), then he is living worse materially than the person in from Arkansas.

    There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality
     
    Keep your day job. I am only being reasonable here. You are the one who thinks that in terms of material comforts or goods, $9,000 in Hungary is more than $27,0000 in Arkansas.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    In all fairness to AP, you have to compare like to like.

    Equivalent of W. Virginia trailer trash = https://www.kp.ru/best/msk/doroga-v-taezhnyj-tupik/

    Random passage:

    Another entrepreneur Natalia also keeps cattle. Her health is not very good, but local alcoholics help. Those, according to Natalia, here a third of the village. They, albeit alcoholics, but when sober, they work like dray horses, do not mess around and do not steal. For lunch and 200 rubles in cash ready to work even though the whole day. Especially the alcoholic Faya, a strong woman of about 45 years. Fay does not even need to be led. She will do everything herself. Faya can not drink for two weeks, but then breaks down.

    Local drunks, as everywhere in Russia, are bursting with filth from fuffery. In Serebryanka this "Stopsept" - 95 degrees, which came recently to replace the banned boyaryshnik. Designed as if for disinfection. It costs 50 rubles. Quickly the brain kicks out. One of these days one woman has got drunk and has set fire to the hut.

    - The house is blazing, and she is rushing about distraught, - firefighters Andrei Grekhov and Sergey Dyldin tell. "The whole house was burned down, but we saved the street."
     
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  64. @inertial
    If pensions are provided by the government the costs of doing so is also counted in GDP - as part of the government expenditure.

    But financial services are about a lot more than pensions. What do you think Bill Gates' largest expense? I can bet that it's the fees he pays for managing his wealth. The more wealth there is, the more complicated the job of managing it, the more disproportionally expensive the service. USA has 25% of the world's wealth and, in addition, a lot of international wealth invested and/or parked in it. That's a lot of wealth.

    Is 15% of the GDP spent on managing that much wealth too much or too little? I don't know. It seems reasonable to me. I notice that everyone who says it's too much has an agenda.

    The cost of providing state benefits, from pensions to medical care to education, is a fraction of what those services generate when they are privatised. My point is that in more ‘socialised’ systems the GNP is artificially lower because of the political choices they made. I am not defending it, but we need to keep it in mind when comparing economies.

    Now for US: the wealth management and the security business (defence, etc…) account for a substantial percentage of the reported GNP. Some of it is valuable, but is all of it really providing any tangible benefit? When you realise that most of it is funded with debt and fiat money (having a reserve currency is great), it becomes more questionable. To create out of thin air a few trillion dollars and then spend them on ‘protecting freedom around the world‘, or on ‘managing that wealth just created out of mostly thin air‘, well, one wonders how real it is. But enjoy it, it will not last forever,

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    • Replies: @inertial

    The cost of providing state benefits, from pensions to medical care to education, is a fraction of what those services generate when they are privatised.
     
    I doubt that's true if you apply honest accounting to the state benefits. But private vs. public pensions is a whole different topic.

    Some of it is valuable, but is all of it really providing any tangible benefit
     
    You can ask the same question about literally everything economy does. Do we really need so many cars? Clothes? Videogames? Frozen chicken legs? Fancy haircuts?

    Financial services are not any different in this respect.
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  65. @Bliss
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_motor_vehicle_production

    So in 2016 China made almost a million more motor vehicles than America, Japan and Germany combined. Or around 8 million more than all of Europe (including Russia).

    In just 11 years China almost quintupled it’s production. And it is still on the upward trajectory.

    The world is rapidly changing.

    It also depends on what you consider motor vehicles. Out in the far west of China – Xinjiang you see a lot of 3 wheeled low geared motorcycles used for delivering products. They gear them down so low that they can pack a huge amount of cargo. They don’t go much faster than 25 MPH. Large trucks there are so simple they can be fixed by the side of the road but don’t drive very fast on the crappy roads either.

    This was about 10 years ago but I doubt a lot has changed in that part of China.

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  66. @AP

    For me, a big disadvantage of life in North America, and it’s almost a deal-breaker, is having to drive everywhere instead of taking the train.
     
    I find it bizarre that so many Muscovites have given up on their spectacular Metro, to sit in probkas in their cars.


    But the biggest disadvantage is something rather intangible and hard to describe, having to do with the quality of interpersonal relationships
     
    Or you can be friends with Russian emigres in the USA :-)

    I miss the freewheeling long political discussions over alcohol with diverse viewpoints and intelligent people. Karlin's blog is some of that, it's why I'm here.

    This gives an average of about 60,000 rubles a month, which is still rather modest, but manageable if you already own a flat.
     
    If it's less than 1/10 (vs. 1/3, in your case) then the equation becomes overwhelming against Russia. I would probably have taken 1/3. I think you made the right choice.

    I find it bizarre that so many Muscovites have given up on their spectacular Metro, to sit in probkas in their cars.

    Good for me, being near the end of the most overcrowded line.

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  67. @Beckow
    Thou do protest way too much :)... and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one? I have driven around those places and they are mostly complete sh.tholes, the trailer parks that look like Third World slums, filth, fat people of undetermined origin lingering on porches. Majority with no access to health care, no hope for education, no way to move around except with an old beat up pick up truck. Not a good life by any standards.

    So, no, thank you for trying, but the numbers are way off - what you see is the reserve currency over-valuation and the result of monetising every human activity. So they get the 'numbers', good for them. In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.

    But I don't think I will convince you. There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality. So you are down to celebrating disabled fishermen in trailer parks and their 'superior' living standards. Right.

    and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one?

    It was on the first page of google image.

    Here is another one, literally the first image that came up through googleimage:

    The truck and car are better than what most Russian physicians can afford.

    They have a bad reputation so there are funny photos but in general they beat khrushchovki.

    They are popular with retirees. Florida is full of places like this:

    In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.

    If the professional is living off $9,000 a year (average for a physician in Hungary), versus someone in Arkansas living off $27,000 a year (median income for lower middle class Arkansas), then he is living worse materially than the person in from Arkansas.

    There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality

    Keep your day job. I am only being reasonable here. You are the one who thinks that in terms of material comforts or goods, $9,000 in Hungary is more than $27,0000 in Arkansas.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    If the professional is living off $9,000 a year (average for a physician in Hungary),
     
    I think we’ve already discussed how Hungarian physicians make less but get tips (bribes?) from the patients. This accounts for a very large share of their incomes. Though not all physicians get it. For example radiologists get nothing, but that’s why their official salaries are higher, and to circumvent civil servant wage tables, they get hired as contractors, so they don’t have it that bad. But there are young surgeons who will get a lot of those tips once they raise higher in the hierarchy, but until then they only get crumbs because the higher ranking surgeons monopolize the richest patients... Anyway, official salaries are meaningless.
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  68. @Beckow
    Thou do protest way too much :)... and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one? I have driven around those places and they are mostly complete sh.tholes, the trailer parks that look like Third World slums, filth, fat people of undetermined origin lingering on porches. Majority with no access to health care, no hope for education, no way to move around except with an old beat up pick up truck. Not a good life by any standards.

    So, no, thank you for trying, but the numbers are way off - what you see is the reserve currency over-valuation and the result of monetising every human activity. So they get the 'numbers', good for them. In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.

    But I don't think I will convince you. There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality. So you are down to celebrating disabled fishermen in trailer parks and their 'superior' living standards. Right.

    In all fairness to AP, you have to compare like to like.

    Equivalent of W. Virginia trailer trash = https://www.kp.ru/best/msk/doroga-v-taezhnyj-tupik/

    Random passage:

    Another entrepreneur Natalia also keeps cattle. Her health is not very good, but local alcoholics help. Those, according to Natalia, here a third of the village. They, albeit alcoholics, but when sober, they work like dray horses, do not mess around and do not steal. For lunch and 200 rubles in cash ready to work even though the whole day. Especially the alcoholic Faya, a strong woman of about 45 years. Fay does not even need to be led. She will do everything herself. Faya can not drink for two weeks, but then breaks down.

    Local drunks, as everywhere in Russia, are bursting with filth from fuffery. In Serebryanka this “Stopsept” – 95 degrees, which came recently to replace the banned boyaryshnik. Designed as if for disinfection. It costs 50 rubles. Quickly the brain kicks out. One of these days one woman has got drunk and has set fire to the hut.

    - The house is blazing, and she is rushing about distraught, – firefighters Andrei Grekhov and Sergey Dyldin tell. “The whole house was burned down, but we saved the street.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Beckow
    Gentlemen, I will leave you to your trailers. As I said contra gustos, no hay disputas. If AP likes it, what can one say to that?

    My general point is that GNP calculation contains a lot of subjective data, what to include, how to value it. If some think that a doctor in Budapest lives worse than a welfare sponging occasional fisherman in Arkansas - because the 'numbers' show it - well, what is a good life anyway? Some like freedom of cities and their distractions, others prefer squirrel hunting. Some like to have (free) education and medical care, others prefer their own way. That '55 inch TV' cannot be beat. Right...
    , @DFH
    What is 'fuffery'?
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  69. @Daniel Chieh

    A working class person of well-below average income in Arkansas will own his own trailer or small house with more living space than the typical Russian, have a car (perhaps a 20 year old Buick) that is far superior to a Soviet or Russian car (and even that – a Russian physician wouldn’t afford one) and will have other material goods such as a large TV (55 inch flatscreens at Wal Mart for $400) that a Russian physician would, on his own, never own.
     

    Aren't East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.

    Most trailers are well-maintained and have more space than a Soviet-apartment. A typical trailer park looks like this:


     

    That's, um, fanciful. I'm tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks. When the snide remark of "If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find" for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.

    They're not that pretty, let's put it that way. Where do you think the rusted grills have to go?

    Aren’t East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.

    Correct. We were discussing physicians.

    There are exceptions. I know of one physician in Moscow, who was very wealthy, with a new S-class Mercedes. He was responsible for determining whether or not someone’s brian had stopped functioning – so their organs could be harvested by those in need. Nothing shady there…

    That’s, um, fanciful. I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks

    I decided to google “trailer park near Chicago.” The first result was “Chief Mobile Home park.” You can look it up yourself, it looks normal (images weren’t jpegs so I couldn’t paste here).

    Here is the first image in the upper left that came up for Indiana:

    Trailer park Maryland:

    Cars are better than ones a physician in Russia could afford (if he can afford any).

    When the snide remark of “If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find” for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.

    Sure, people there are poor and because they are also white, they are an acceptable butt of such jokes. I suspect the recent opioid epidemic has hit these areas badly also.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Lol I'm strongly of the opinion that America is a paradise - well, excluding the occasional need to dodging bullets at highschool, and MS-13 drive-bys outside your 7-Eleven
    , @Daniel Chieh
    I like this game. Here's the first image I got out for American scientist:
    https://www.the-scientist.com/images/News/March2017/NasserZawia_640.jpg

    Here is the first image I got for "Hispanic neighborhood":
    http://www.stpetermilwaukee.com/home/180003997/180003997/images/180003567/Our%20Hispanic%20neighborhood%201.jpg

    Here's one from "black neighborhood":

    https://brotherpeacemaker.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/black-neighborhood.jpg


    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees - but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with .

    I don't have time to take photos right now, but I'll share an ancedote which gives you an idea of the people and settings they live in: H. is someone my wife knew when they briefly worked at a "Christian bookstore", she is a white American of uncertain heritage with three children from two different men. Her eldest teenage daughter also has her own infant, who lives with H., and H. seems to highly encourage that her daughter to find a man and move in with him.

    During our acquaintanceship, she got married the third time with someone else from her trailer park, a man who acquired fatherhood over his daughter due to the biological mother have been found with severe drug issues. The child, who almost certainly has some sort of effect from the drug use, had the father take care of the infant by feeding him with cow milk, leading to malnutrition and eventually H. noticed and took the baby to emergency care. The baby seems to have survived, thankfully. The man is also alcoholic, but a functional one.

    At some point after they married, apparently he became abusive and beat her regularly, so she moved out again and divorced. Last I hear, she has gone into hiding in the trailer park of yet another city. She's pregnant again.

    Opoids are not involved, but pot and alcohol are. Wild conspiracy thinking abounds: H. wraps up her microwave in duct-tape because she fears the emissions of radiation from them. She wears crystal bracelets and tried to convince my wife about the spiritual benefits of scents. Naturally, H. has never completed high school.

    Its quite possible that she has a much nicer life than she would have had in Russia(off the top of my head - would the baby even have survived the misadventures? What is the state of neonatal infant care for the poor? I don't know any of these things, I have a Hungarian doctor friend who complains about the "shit equipment" they have, though...). I'm of the opinion that the drugs are merely a solution for already desperate people looking for an out. Note that they are not in black ghettos, which are even worse, but its hard not to feel for the misery and despair and crushing debt of it.

    These are definitely not the people who post in Unz.

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  70. @AP

    Aren’t East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.
     
    Correct. We were discussing physicians.

    There are exceptions. I know of one physician in Moscow, who was very wealthy, with a new S-class Mercedes. He was responsible for determining whether or not someone's brian had stopped functioning - so their organs could be harvested by those in need. Nothing shady there...


    That’s, um, fanciful. I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks
     
    I decided to google "trailer park near Chicago." The first result was "Chief Mobile Home park." You can look it up yourself, it looks normal (images weren't jpegs so I couldn't paste here).

    Here is the first image in the upper left that came up for Indiana:

    http://www.sundancemanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/0003_HICKORY-MANOR-25.jpg

    Trailer park Maryland:

    http://www.aacounty.org/sebin/l/k/trailerPark.jpg

    Cars are better than ones a physician in Russia could afford (if he can afford any).

    When the snide remark of “If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find” for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.
     
    Sure, people there are poor and because they are also white, they are an acceptable butt of such jokes. I suspect the recent opioid epidemic has hit these areas badly also.

    Lol I’m strongly of the opinion that America is a paradise – well, excluding the occasional need to dodging bullets at highschool, and MS-13 drive-bys outside your 7-Eleven

    Read More
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  71. @Randal
    OT, but I'd have thought interesting. Here's a piece from the Daily Beast that I saw because it was picked up by MSN, so quite high profile in MSM terms. Dugin I know is something of a bête noire for Anatoly, but the vast majority of people in the US sphere have never heard of him, and most who have, will have done so via propaganda screeds like this one.

    To understand one of the reasons why the US's foreign policy is such a bipartisan catastrophe and its bipartisan foreign policy elite seemingly so distant from any prospect of their grasping reality, one need only contemplate that the writer of this by turns delusional and grossly dishonest piece of propaganda is an actual professor of international relations at a US university (the school Condi Rice attended, named for the father of Madeline Albright who taught there).

    The Far-Right Book Every Russian General Reads

    Nb this outright, shameless lie:


    Richard Spencer, David Duke, and others on the violent far right
     
    And this piece of delusional racial self(?)-hatred:

    Were Russia not a “White” power, furthering violent attacks on black and Latin people and on the wellbeing of most ordinary Americans, as well as the ugly empire Dugin projected in 1997 in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the U.S., one might see its stand against American aggression as morally justified.
     
    Which probably explains this flight of fantasy:

    “lean on the political forces of the African American racists,” by which he presumably means Black Lives Matter, which is in fact a nonviolent movement protesting police murders of innocents.
     

    Were Russia not a “White” power, furthering violent attacks on black and Latin people and on the wellbeing of most ordinary Americans, as well as the ugly empire Dugin projected in 1997 in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the U.S., one might see its stand against American aggression as morally justified.

    Darkly ironic considering the USSR’s support for implicitly or explicitly anti-white forces in Latin America and Africa and the current Russian government’s friendliness with such notorious and infamous bastions of white supremacy such as Cuba and Venezuela.

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  72. @Beckow
    The cost of providing state benefits, from pensions to medical care to education, is a fraction of what those services generate when they are privatised. My point is that in more 'socialised' systems the GNP is artificially lower because of the political choices they made. I am not defending it, but we need to keep it in mind when comparing economies.

    Now for US: the wealth management and the security business (defence, etc...) account for a substantial percentage of the reported GNP. Some of it is valuable, but is all of it really providing any tangible benefit? When you realise that most of it is funded with debt and fiat money (having a reserve currency is great), it becomes more questionable. To create out of thin air a few trillion dollars and then spend them on 'protecting freedom around the world', or on 'managing that wealth just created out of mostly thin air', well, one wonders how real it is. But enjoy it, it will not last forever,

    The cost of providing state benefits, from pensions to medical care to education, is a fraction of what those services generate when they are privatised.

    I doubt that’s true if you apply honest accounting to the state benefits. But private vs. public pensions is a whole different topic.

    Some of it is valuable, but is all of it really providing any tangible benefit

    You can ask the same question about literally everything economy does. Do we really need so many cars? Clothes? Videogames? Frozen chicken legs? Fancy haircuts?

    Financial services are not any different in this respect.

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  73. @AP

    and that trailer park is lovely, how long did it take you to find a nice one?
     
    It was on the first page of google image.

    Here is another one, literally the first image that came up through googleimage:

    https://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2015/04/1024px-Trailerpark.jpg.696x0_q70_crop-smart.jpg

    The truck and car are better than what most Russian physicians can afford.

    They have a bad reputation so there are funny photos but in general they beat khrushchovki.

    They are popular with retirees. Florida is full of places like this:

    http://www.carefreecommunities.com/files/img/resorts/new-ranch/New%20Ranch%20low%20res-4.jpg

    In terms of quality of life, a professional in Budapest has it substantially better.
     
    If the professional is living off $9,000 a year (average for a physician in Hungary), versus someone in Arkansas living off $27,000 a year (median income for lower middle class Arkansas), then he is living worse materially than the person in from Arkansas.

    There is something you are trying to protect, something that makes you very defensive about reality
     
    Keep your day job. I am only being reasonable here. You are the one who thinks that in terms of material comforts or goods, $9,000 in Hungary is more than $27,0000 in Arkansas.

    If the professional is living off $9,000 a year (average for a physician in Hungary),

    I think we’ve already discussed how Hungarian physicians make less but get tips (bribes?) from the patients. This accounts for a very large share of their incomes. Though not all physicians get it. For example radiologists get nothing, but that’s why their official salaries are higher, and to circumvent civil servant wage tables, they get hired as contractors, so they don’t have it that bad. But there are young surgeons who will get a lot of those tips once they raise higher in the hierarchy, but until then they only get crumbs because the higher ranking surgeons monopolize the richest patients… Anyway, official salaries are meaningless.

    Read More
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  74. @anonymous coward

    Energy consumption is useless.
     
    No. Energy is real-world "stuff", a direct measure of things produced and consumed and thus material wealth.

    Now you're right that wealth isn't a measure of quality of life (and being rich can, in fact, make you and the world around you more miserable), but these are intangibles that have nothing to do with economics.

    You didn’t address my point at all. My car uses the same amount of fuel as my father’s car used twenty years ago. My house uses roughly the same amount of natural gas for heating. So, I have the same energy consumption. But my house is somewhat larger and is better quality and better equipped, while my car is significantly larger and also much faster and stronger.

    So, despite the same energy consumption (which, unless I misunderstood something, you’d characterize as having the same wealth), my living standards are significantly higher: I have a much better car (a similarly equipped car of the same size with similar acceleration, handling, etc. twenty years ago would have been a full-size luxury sedan) and the house would also be significantly more expensive. Not to mention the electronics of which even the richest guys couldn’t even dream of twenty years ago, like having hundreds of CDs on my smartphone, playing them on the speakers at home, then continuing to play the same thing in the car without ever having to change CDs while driving, then continuing to listen to the same music through the headphones while walking to the office. And surfing the internet whenever I need to find something without having to find a netcafe first…

    Another example is weapons. A dozen modern warplanes could defeat a hundred 1950s jet fighters using less energy. Are they equivalent simply because you cannot easily measure the quality difference?

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  75. @Anatoly Karlin
    In all fairness to AP, you have to compare like to like.

    Equivalent of W. Virginia trailer trash = https://www.kp.ru/best/msk/doroga-v-taezhnyj-tupik/

    Random passage:

    Another entrepreneur Natalia also keeps cattle. Her health is not very good, but local alcoholics help. Those, according to Natalia, here a third of the village. They, albeit alcoholics, but when sober, they work like dray horses, do not mess around and do not steal. For lunch and 200 rubles in cash ready to work even though the whole day. Especially the alcoholic Faya, a strong woman of about 45 years. Fay does not even need to be led. She will do everything herself. Faya can not drink for two weeks, but then breaks down.

    Local drunks, as everywhere in Russia, are bursting with filth from fuffery. In Serebryanka this "Stopsept" - 95 degrees, which came recently to replace the banned boyaryshnik. Designed as if for disinfection. It costs 50 rubles. Quickly the brain kicks out. One of these days one woman has got drunk and has set fire to the hut.

    - The house is blazing, and she is rushing about distraught, - firefighters Andrei Grekhov and Sergey Dyldin tell. "The whole house was burned down, but we saved the street."
     

    Gentlemen, I will leave you to your trailers. As I said contra gustos, no hay disputas. If AP likes it, what can one say to that?

    My general point is that GNP calculation contains a lot of subjective data, what to include, how to value it. If some think that a doctor in Budapest lives worse than a welfare sponging occasional fisherman in Arkansas – because the ‘numbers‘ show it – well, what is a good life anyway? Some like freedom of cities and their distractions, others prefer squirrel hunting. Some like to have (free) education and medical care, others prefer their own way. That ’55 inch TV’ cannot be beat. Right…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    The Budapest doctor will have a much higher cultural level than the 90 IQ trailer trash in Appalachia.

    AP wouldn't dispute that.

    Said trailer trash would have a material living standard at least comparable to and probably higher than the doctor. (At least if said trailer trash doesn't do stupid and short-sighted things like getting into credit card debt, etc).

    Unfortunately, that also seems to be true, because the statistics do indeed show that, which is the point that AP was making.

    Most of the people on in this thread, including you and me, would prefer to be the Budapest doctor. So would AP.
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  76. @Beckow
    Gentlemen, I will leave you to your trailers. As I said contra gustos, no hay disputas. If AP likes it, what can one say to that?

    My general point is that GNP calculation contains a lot of subjective data, what to include, how to value it. If some think that a doctor in Budapest lives worse than a welfare sponging occasional fisherman in Arkansas - because the 'numbers' show it - well, what is a good life anyway? Some like freedom of cities and their distractions, others prefer squirrel hunting. Some like to have (free) education and medical care, others prefer their own way. That '55 inch TV' cannot be beat. Right...

    The Budapest doctor will have a much higher cultural level than the 90 IQ trailer trash in Appalachia.

    AP wouldn’t dispute that.

    Said trailer trash would have a material living standard at least comparable to and probably higher than the doctor. (At least if said trailer trash doesn’t do stupid and short-sighted things like getting into credit card debt, etc).

    Unfortunately, that also seems to be true, because the statistics do indeed show that, which is the point that AP was making.

    Most of the people on in this thread, including you and me, would prefer to be the Budapest doctor. So would AP.

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    • Agree: AP
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    As I wrote, it very much depends on what kind of doctor they are. I forgot to mention that many doctors have some private patients or have a second (or first) job at a private clinic, and even in the state healthcare system they usually get some tips.

    In other words, I think doctors are not a particularly good example, because their incomes are often understated.
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  77. @Anatoly Karlin
    The Budapest doctor will have a much higher cultural level than the 90 IQ trailer trash in Appalachia.

    AP wouldn't dispute that.

    Said trailer trash would have a material living standard at least comparable to and probably higher than the doctor. (At least if said trailer trash doesn't do stupid and short-sighted things like getting into credit card debt, etc).

    Unfortunately, that also seems to be true, because the statistics do indeed show that, which is the point that AP was making.

    Most of the people on in this thread, including you and me, would prefer to be the Budapest doctor. So would AP.

    As I wrote, it very much depends on what kind of doctor they are. I forgot to mention that many doctors have some private patients or have a second (or first) job at a private clinic, and even in the state healthcare system they usually get some tips.

    In other words, I think doctors are not a particularly good example, because their incomes are often understated.

    Read More
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  78. @Anatoly Karlin
    In all fairness to AP, you have to compare like to like.

    Equivalent of W. Virginia trailer trash = https://www.kp.ru/best/msk/doroga-v-taezhnyj-tupik/

    Random passage:

    Another entrepreneur Natalia also keeps cattle. Her health is not very good, but local alcoholics help. Those, according to Natalia, here a third of the village. They, albeit alcoholics, but when sober, they work like dray horses, do not mess around and do not steal. For lunch and 200 rubles in cash ready to work even though the whole day. Especially the alcoholic Faya, a strong woman of about 45 years. Fay does not even need to be led. She will do everything herself. Faya can not drink for two weeks, but then breaks down.

    Local drunks, as everywhere in Russia, are bursting with filth from fuffery. In Serebryanka this "Stopsept" - 95 degrees, which came recently to replace the banned boyaryshnik. Designed as if for disinfection. It costs 50 rubles. Quickly the brain kicks out. One of these days one woman has got drunk and has set fire to the hut.

    - The house is blazing, and she is rushing about distraught, - firefighters Andrei Grekhov and Sergey Dyldin tell. "The whole house was burned down, but we saved the street."
     

    What is ‘fuffery’?

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  79. @AP

    Aren’t East European doctors famously known for not either getting money or respect for some reason? It might not be a fair comparison all around.
     
    Correct. We were discussing physicians.

    There are exceptions. I know of one physician in Moscow, who was very wealthy, with a new S-class Mercedes. He was responsible for determining whether or not someone's brian had stopped functioning - so their organs could be harvested by those in need. Nothing shady there...


    That’s, um, fanciful. I’m tempted now to drive around a bit and take photos of trailer parks
     
    I decided to google "trailer park near Chicago." The first result was "Chief Mobile Home park." You can look it up yourself, it looks normal (images weren't jpegs so I couldn't paste here).

    Here is the first image in the upper left that came up for Indiana:

    http://www.sundancemanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/0003_HICKORY-MANOR-25.jpg

    Trailer park Maryland:

    http://www.aacounty.org/sebin/l/k/trailerPark.jpg

    Cars are better than ones a physician in Russia could afford (if he can afford any).

    When the snide remark of “If you drag a hundred-dollar-bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find” for getting prostitutes from trailer parks exist, it gives a decent idea of the unpleasantness it has.
     
    Sure, people there are poor and because they are also white, they are an acceptable butt of such jokes. I suspect the recent opioid epidemic has hit these areas badly also.

    I like this game. Here’s the first image I got out for American scientist:
    Here is the first image I got for “Hispanic neighborhood”:
    Here’s one from “black neighborhood”:

    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees – but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with .

    I don’t have time to take photos right now, but I’ll share an ancedote which gives you an idea of the people and settings they live in: H. is someone my wife knew when they briefly worked at a “Christian bookstore”, she is a white American of uncertain heritage with three children from two different men. Her eldest teenage daughter also has her own infant, who lives with H., and H. seems to highly encourage that her daughter to find a man and move in with him.

    During our acquaintanceship, she got married the third time with someone else from her trailer park, a man who acquired fatherhood over his daughter due to the biological mother have been found with severe drug issues. The child, who almost certainly has some sort of effect from the drug use, had the father take care of the infant by feeding him with cow milk, leading to malnutrition and eventually H. noticed and took the baby to emergency care. The baby seems to have survived, thankfully. The man is also alcoholic, but a functional one.

    At some point after they married, apparently he became abusive and beat her regularly, so she moved out again and divorced. Last I hear, she has gone into hiding in the trailer park of yet another city. She’s pregnant again.

    Opoids are not involved, but pot and alcohol are. Wild conspiracy thinking abounds: H. wraps up her microwave in duct-tape because she fears the emissions of radiation from them. She wears crystal bracelets and tried to convince my wife about the spiritual benefits of scents. Naturally, H. has never completed high school.

    Its quite possible that she has a much nicer life than she would have had in Russia(off the top of my head – would the baby even have survived the misadventures? What is the state of neonatal infant care for the poor? I don’t know any of these things, I have a Hungarian doctor friend who complains about the “shit equipment” they have, though…). I’m of the opinion that the drugs are merely a solution for already desperate people looking for an out. Note that they are not in black ghettos, which are even worse, but its hard not to feel for the misery and despair and crushing debt of it.

    These are definitely not the people who post in Unz.

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    • Replies: @AP

    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees – but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with
     
    Fair point. I did not go out of my way to post photos of nice ones, however, if I did I would have chosen this one (for people who have retired to Florida):

    https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/65/18/ae/filename-img-0066-jpg.jpg

    The Hispanic neighborhood you found is actually fairly typical of those in Chicago and in the Northeast, I'm not sure why you think it is unrepresentative.

    Conversely, however, the bad images of trailer parks one finds come from news stories where something bad happens (shootings, tornado footage lol), or from websites devoted to making fun of white trash, so they are not representative either.

    I don't live near any trailer park now, but I drove past some in previous places where I lived in the Midwest, and they looked like the normal ones I posted rather than the bad ones one sees. This one on the outskirts of Chicago is quite typical:

    http://i.yochicago.com/images/hpmain/288/277288.jpg

    You prompted me to look into this and I found some info here:

    https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/13/16275948/mobile-manufactured-homes-clayton-trailers

    - Slightly less than 5 percent of manufactured-home residents make more than $100,000 per year. The average household income is $28,400.

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).
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  80. @Daniel Chieh
    I like this game. Here's the first image I got out for American scientist:
    https://www.the-scientist.com/images/News/March2017/NasserZawia_640.jpg

    Here is the first image I got for "Hispanic neighborhood":
    http://www.stpetermilwaukee.com/home/180003997/180003997/images/180003567/Our%20Hispanic%20neighborhood%201.jpg

    Here's one from "black neighborhood":

    https://brotherpeacemaker.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/black-neighborhood.jpg


    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees - but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with .

    I don't have time to take photos right now, but I'll share an ancedote which gives you an idea of the people and settings they live in: H. is someone my wife knew when they briefly worked at a "Christian bookstore", she is a white American of uncertain heritage with three children from two different men. Her eldest teenage daughter also has her own infant, who lives with H., and H. seems to highly encourage that her daughter to find a man and move in with him.

    During our acquaintanceship, she got married the third time with someone else from her trailer park, a man who acquired fatherhood over his daughter due to the biological mother have been found with severe drug issues. The child, who almost certainly has some sort of effect from the drug use, had the father take care of the infant by feeding him with cow milk, leading to malnutrition and eventually H. noticed and took the baby to emergency care. The baby seems to have survived, thankfully. The man is also alcoholic, but a functional one.

    At some point after they married, apparently he became abusive and beat her regularly, so she moved out again and divorced. Last I hear, she has gone into hiding in the trailer park of yet another city. She's pregnant again.

    Opoids are not involved, but pot and alcohol are. Wild conspiracy thinking abounds: H. wraps up her microwave in duct-tape because she fears the emissions of radiation from them. She wears crystal bracelets and tried to convince my wife about the spiritual benefits of scents. Naturally, H. has never completed high school.

    Its quite possible that she has a much nicer life than she would have had in Russia(off the top of my head - would the baby even have survived the misadventures? What is the state of neonatal infant care for the poor? I don't know any of these things, I have a Hungarian doctor friend who complains about the "shit equipment" they have, though...). I'm of the opinion that the drugs are merely a solution for already desperate people looking for an out. Note that they are not in black ghettos, which are even worse, but its hard not to feel for the misery and despair and crushing debt of it.

    These are definitely not the people who post in Unz.

    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees – but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with

    Fair point. I did not go out of my way to post photos of nice ones, however, if I did I would have chosen this one (for people who have retired to Florida):

    The Hispanic neighborhood you found is actually fairly typical of those in Chicago and in the Northeast, I’m not sure why you think it is unrepresentative.

    Conversely, however, the bad images of trailer parks one finds come from news stories where something bad happens (shootings, tornado footage lol), or from websites devoted to making fun of white trash, so they are not representative either.

    I don’t live near any trailer park now, but I drove past some in previous places where I lived in the Midwest, and they looked like the normal ones I posted rather than the bad ones one sees. This one on the outskirts of Chicago is quite typical:

    You prompted me to look into this and I found some info here:

    https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/13/16275948/mobile-manufactured-homes-clayton-trailers

    - Slightly less than 5 percent of manufactured-home residents make more than $100,000 per year. The average household income is $28,400.

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    Fine, I'll take photos when I can. If someone shoots at my Lexus, I'll blame the Joos.
    , @reiner Tor

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).
     
    Are second jobs taken into account?

    I recently had a bad pink eye in Hungary, and the eye doctor who saw me (this was a regular state clinic) was only working Mondays. (I wanted to go back to her a few days later.) When I looked her up on the internet, it turned out she mostly worked for a private clinic in a suburb of Budapest.

    I went to see a rheumatologist with a persistent injury at a private clinic in Budapest, and she could only give me appointments for Mondays and Wednesdays, because on other days she was working for a state clinic.

    I don’t know how typical these arrangements are, but they must be widespread if I bumped into two such cases. Basically these are the two cases I saw a doctor in Budapest since I left Hungary a decade and a half ago.
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  81. @AP

    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees – but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with
     
    Fair point. I did not go out of my way to post photos of nice ones, however, if I did I would have chosen this one (for people who have retired to Florida):

    https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/65/18/ae/filename-img-0066-jpg.jpg

    The Hispanic neighborhood you found is actually fairly typical of those in Chicago and in the Northeast, I'm not sure why you think it is unrepresentative.

    Conversely, however, the bad images of trailer parks one finds come from news stories where something bad happens (shootings, tornado footage lol), or from websites devoted to making fun of white trash, so they are not representative either.

    I don't live near any trailer park now, but I drove past some in previous places where I lived in the Midwest, and they looked like the normal ones I posted rather than the bad ones one sees. This one on the outskirts of Chicago is quite typical:

    http://i.yochicago.com/images/hpmain/288/277288.jpg

    You prompted me to look into this and I found some info here:

    https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/13/16275948/mobile-manufactured-homes-clayton-trailers

    - Slightly less than 5 percent of manufactured-home residents make more than $100,000 per year. The average household income is $28,400.

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).

    Fine, I’ll take photos when I can. If someone shoots at my Lexus, I’ll blame the Joos.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    I believe you. There are run down ones out there. I just question whether the one you drive past is typical.
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  82. @Daniel Chieh
    Fine, I'll take photos when I can. If someone shoots at my Lexus, I'll blame the Joos.

    I believe you. There are run down ones out there. I just question whether the one you drive past is typical.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
    fwiw, I don't disagree that physicians are underpaid in EE given that my Hungarian friend's conversations can often be summarized by ranting about "shit equipment, shit pay, shit respect" and fantasies of emigrating to Germany, Sweden, US, or Japan depending on the day of the week.

    I think it has stabilized to Japan.

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  83. @AP

    Ignoring any other political agenda, Google images are made often by owners of properties looking to rent out locations and sell properties, so it is to their interest to present their locations as positively as possible. This is further complicated by the fact that some trailers are indeed used by retirees – but this is a much smaller number and not really the population we are concerned with
     
    Fair point. I did not go out of my way to post photos of nice ones, however, if I did I would have chosen this one (for people who have retired to Florida):

    https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/65/18/ae/filename-img-0066-jpg.jpg

    The Hispanic neighborhood you found is actually fairly typical of those in Chicago and in the Northeast, I'm not sure why you think it is unrepresentative.

    Conversely, however, the bad images of trailer parks one finds come from news stories where something bad happens (shootings, tornado footage lol), or from websites devoted to making fun of white trash, so they are not representative either.

    I don't live near any trailer park now, but I drove past some in previous places where I lived in the Midwest, and they looked like the normal ones I posted rather than the bad ones one sees. This one on the outskirts of Chicago is quite typical:

    http://i.yochicago.com/images/hpmain/288/277288.jpg

    You prompted me to look into this and I found some info here:

    https://www.curbed.com/2017/9/13/16275948/mobile-manufactured-homes-clayton-trailers

    - Slightly less than 5 percent of manufactured-home residents make more than $100,000 per year. The average household income is $28,400.

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).

    Are second jobs taken into account?

    I recently had a bad pink eye in Hungary, and the eye doctor who saw me (this was a regular state clinic) was only working Mondays. (I wanted to go back to her a few days later.) When I looked her up on the internet, it turned out she mostly worked for a private clinic in a suburb of Budapest.

    I went to see a rheumatologist with a persistent injury at a private clinic in Budapest, and she could only give me appointments for Mondays and Wednesdays, because on other days she was working for a state clinic.

    I don’t know how typical these arrangements are, but they must be widespread if I bumped into two such cases. Basically these are the two cases I saw a doctor in Budapest since I left Hungary a decade and a half ago.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    Are second jobs taken into account?
     
    I don't know; website I saw merely gives a figure of about $9,000.

    I found this, which is even worse:

    hungarianspectrum.org/2015/02/25/how-to-make-sure-that-no-doctors-will-remain-in-hungary/

    There are several rankings of physician salaries by country. Although there are slight differences depending on the methodology of calculations, all agree that doctors do best in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc. I found only one chart that also shows Hungary’s pay scale. Here, Hungary is the practically at the bottom of the list, just ahead of Mexico. In 2012 the average salary of physicians in Hungary was 203,189 HUF, less than the national average of all employee salaries. That would be $756 a month, but a doctor’s actual paycheck is, according to a handy internet calculator, only 131,000 HUF, or $484.

    ::::::::::::::::

    I would assume bribes compensate to an extent.
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  84. @Kimppis
    It's Russophrenia. Bryan McDonald: "A condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world."

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What's next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland's Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.

    "Powerful takes" here about Russia's nominal GDP and Russia in general:

    https://twitter.com/20committee/status/904902484153573376

    Predicting Putin's future:

    gotta find a country that will protect him from extradition... if the new system wants him
     
    Some guy with almost 600K Twitter followers:

    El Chapo and Putin have one thing in common: El Chapo is to Mexico the same way Putin is to Russia. They are both criminals.
     
    Russia expertise:

    In 2015 median income for RU was $871 annually US - abt $56,000. This will land on Putin's head - hilarious if Trump helps Navalny election
     
    Mixing up monthly and annual incomes? They really believe that Russian incomes are 64 times smaller? Do they think that Russian population is that of China and India combined or something? Also, Putlerreich is supposed to be a totalitarian dictatorship, but The Dark Lord could still somehow lose to Navalny?

    Russia is a failed petro economy with life expectancy falling off a cliff.
     
    You mean rapidly increasing?

    It's a mess. The Russian people are suffering. It's illegal to protest. They can do nothing.
     
    Of course, those type of comments are nothing new at this point, but I really try to avoid that kind of stuff as much as possible, so it always "shocks" me a little bit every time I see it. How can people be that... deranged? Do they really think they have any idea what they are talking about (Russia, the world, GDP...)? Why comment? After reading "takes" like these, it's no wonder that people believe in Russiagate, and really anything they're told about Russia.

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland’s Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.

    In 1991, the USSR had the world’s 7th largest GDP, just behind the UK, while Russia alone ranked #10, just behind Spain.

    At its post-Soviet low in 1999, Russia ranked #23, just behind Austria, with a GDP of only $195 billion, vs. $700 billion for the Netherlands and Belgium.

    In 2016 Russia was #12, and within a handful of years it will probably surpass South Korea and Canada to reclaim the #10 spot, just behind Italy and Brazil.

    Read More
    • Replies: @polskijoe
    in 1985-1989 USSR had the 2nd biggest GDP in the world.
    lets say 60 percent of that was Russian.

    Today the Russian GDP is around 5th or 6th place right after Germany.

    After the Jews like Adelsons and others stole 1 trillion from USSR states.
    It made the Great Depression in USA seem like nothing.

    (i guess you are using nominal?)

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  85. @AP
    I believe you. There are run down ones out there. I just question whether the one you drive past is typical.

    fwiw, I don’t disagree that physicians are underpaid in EE given that my Hungarian friend’s conversations can often be summarized by ranting about “shit equipment, shit pay, shit respect” and fantasies of emigrating to Germany, Sweden, US, or Japan depending on the day of the week.

    I think it has stabilized to Japan.

    Read More
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  86. AP says:
    @reiner Tor

    Average income is 4 times that of a physician in Hungary (not taking into account bribes).
     
    Are second jobs taken into account?

    I recently had a bad pink eye in Hungary, and the eye doctor who saw me (this was a regular state clinic) was only working Mondays. (I wanted to go back to her a few days later.) When I looked her up on the internet, it turned out she mostly worked for a private clinic in a suburb of Budapest.

    I went to see a rheumatologist with a persistent injury at a private clinic in Budapest, and she could only give me appointments for Mondays and Wednesdays, because on other days she was working for a state clinic.

    I don’t know how typical these arrangements are, but they must be widespread if I bumped into two such cases. Basically these are the two cases I saw a doctor in Budapest since I left Hungary a decade and a half ago.

    Are second jobs taken into account?

    I don’t know; website I saw merely gives a figure of about $9,000.

    I found this, which is even worse:

    hungarianspectrum.org/2015/02/25/how-to-make-sure-that-no-doctors-will-remain-in-hungary/

    There are several rankings of physician salaries by country. Although there are slight differences depending on the methodology of calculations, all agree that doctors do best in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc. I found only one chart that also shows Hungary’s pay scale. Here, Hungary is the practically at the bottom of the list, just ahead of Mexico. In 2012 the average salary of physicians in Hungary was 203,189 HUF, less than the national average of all employee salaries. That would be $756 a month, but a doctor’s actual paycheck is, according to a handy internet calculator, only 131,000 HUF, or $484.

    ::::::::::::::::

    I would assume bribes compensate to an extent.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Unfortunately the first meaningful search result was from a Fidesz propaganda paper, and I’m lazy to search further, but apparently things did improve substantially since 2010, with the bulk of the improvements happening since 2016.

    But it’s well known in Hungary that doctors are underpaid. So they are not very representative when comparing living standards.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  87. @Jon0815

    First it was Italy, then California, Texas, Spain and South Korea. Now the Netherlands and Belgium. What’s next? Sweden? I think that was actually the case back in the late 90s and early 2000s? And IIRC, Finland’s Prime or Foreign Minister compared the size of the Russian economy to Holland as late as 2008 lol.
     
    In 1991, the USSR had the world's 7th largest GDP, just behind the UK, while Russia alone ranked #10, just behind Spain.

    At its post-Soviet low in 1999, Russia ranked #23, just behind Austria, with a GDP of only $195 billion, vs. $700 billion for the Netherlands and Belgium.

    In 2016 Russia was #12, and within a handful of years it will probably surpass South Korea and Canada to reclaim the #10 spot, just behind Italy and Brazil.

    in 1985-1989 USSR had the 2nd biggest GDP in the world.
    lets say 60 percent of that was Russian.

    Today the Russian GDP is around 5th or 6th place right after Germany.

    After the Jews like Adelsons and others stole 1 trillion from USSR states.
    It made the Great Depression in USA seem like nothing.

    (i guess you are using nominal?)

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  88. @AP

    Are second jobs taken into account?
     
    I don't know; website I saw merely gives a figure of about $9,000.

    I found this, which is even worse:

    hungarianspectrum.org/2015/02/25/how-to-make-sure-that-no-doctors-will-remain-in-hungary/

    There are several rankings of physician salaries by country. Although there are slight differences depending on the methodology of calculations, all agree that doctors do best in the United States, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, etc. I found only one chart that also shows Hungary’s pay scale. Here, Hungary is the practically at the bottom of the list, just ahead of Mexico. In 2012 the average salary of physicians in Hungary was 203,189 HUF, less than the national average of all employee salaries. That would be $756 a month, but a doctor’s actual paycheck is, according to a handy internet calculator, only 131,000 HUF, or $484.

    ::::::::::::::::

    I would assume bribes compensate to an extent.

    Unfortunately the first meaningful search result was from a Fidesz propaganda paper, and I’m lazy to search further, but apparently things did improve substantially since 2010, with the bulk of the improvements happening since 2016.

    But it’s well known in Hungary that doctors are underpaid. So they are not very representative when comparing living standards.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments

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