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Russia Elections 2018: Nukey McNukeface
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Quick recap of developments since the last update.

Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly

First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth – as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year). Nobody really cares about this.

In the second half, wearing his purple tie of esoteric power, Putin entered hardcore Dr. Strangelove territory, revealing a range of awesome nuclear weaponry with the mediocre CGI demonstrations:

1. A nuclear-powered cruise missile with unlimited range that sounds somewhat redolent of Project Pluto [hmm, could this have been related?]

2. An aircraft-launched hypersonic missile with unlimited range [presumably ramjet based]

3. A nuclear-powered underwater drone that would autonomously cruise the world’s oceans at extremely fast speeds [so presumably using supercavitation] until called upon to detonate its 100MT yield warhead at a port, seeding the area with cobalt-60 that will make it uninhabitable for centuries.

This is all great news, since atomophobia is worse than racism.

Ben Aris commented that this speech would be remembered alongside his Munich speech in 2007, as a throwing down of the gauntlet to the West. However, another commenter replied to him he got a “strong ‘greatest hits, remastered’ vibe off of it.” My take, for what it is worth, is closer to the latter. With less than three weeks to go to the elections, Putin has not even bothered with compiling an official program, and doesn’t even intend to create original agitation videos (instead, they will be compiled from past clips of his speeches). Putin needs to do something to make people show up and excite the normies, and I suppose this is as good as any.

Zhirinovsky vs. Grudinin

PredictIt has finally opened a market on the Russian elections: Who will place 2nd in the 1st round of the 2018 Russian presidential election?

Current odds:

  • Grudinin – 69%
  • Zhirinovsky – 42%
  • Putin, Yavlinsky, Sobchak – 1%

I bought some Zhirik when he was in the 30%’s, because I think it’s basically 50/50 between them. But won’t become rich because the market is very low volume.

Debates

There were many good things under Hitler,” – Xenia “She-Wolf of the SS” Sobchak. (out of context quote)

Grudinin on Donbass

Grudinin on the Donbass:

The Donbass population should deal with the situation on its own, [said Grudinin] in Saint-Petersburg… He said that Russia shouldn’t help the denizens of the DNR and LNR, because they can resolve things by themselves.

More confirmation Grudinin is by far the most pro-Ukrainian of the main non-liberal candidates. But nothing more can be expected of a Communist Stalinist with offshore accounts in the West and a “rootless cosmopolitan” by the standards of his own idol.

Or, The Saker is right (for once), and Israel Shamir is wrong.

The 70/70 Myth

There’s this meme or trope amongst Russia observers that the Presidential Administration is aiming to get a “70/70″ (70% for Putin, 70% turnout).

As Alexander Kireev explains, this is nonsense.

Polls indicate that (real, pre-fraud) turnout will be no more than 60% at best.

Putin is polling around 80%. Minus 5% because polls tend to overestimate his support; plus 5% to reflect the customary level of fraud in Russia’s Presidential elections.

For Putin to get 70%, the electoral fraud would actually have to be in favor of his challengers. This is exceedingly unlikely. The local bureaucrats who tally the numbers are not going to do “creative” things like adding voices for Grudinin or Sobchak, since it would put their own skins at risk, e.g. if the kremlins decide to scapegoat one of them for electoral falsification, to “prove” that the “opposition” also engages in fraud.

 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Putin and his generals know that if one hair is mussed on Uncle Sam’s head the U.S. and its allies will make quick work of Russia and do a regime change and break up Russia. We might do that preemptively. All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military. All that talk about weapons is for internal consumption. As Karlin has said before, Russians are largely like West Virginians.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    do a regime change and break up Russia. We might do that preemptively.
     
    Right now USA has its hands full trying to break up Syria. You have been working on it since 2011 and made only limited progress thus far. USA is weaker than it looks.
    , @El Dato

    All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military.
     
    US will have to recruit more skool shootas to increase combat readiness.

    ABM system are still easily fooled and barely effective against a re-entering frozen chicken.

    Meanwhile, does Russia want to go up against Chtulhu? All these new toys (a few of which are barely testable, a nuclear ramjet, especially a nuclear underwater ramjet, are Hot Things). The orbiting nukes thing (FOBS - Fractional Orbit Bombardment System) is rather pedestrian, but it amounts to breaking a few treaties.

    Case Nightmare Green when?
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  2. First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth– as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year).

    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP, not 50% real GDP growth (adjusted for price changes)? The former wouldn’t be implausible: Russia’s nominal GDP increased from around $1.3 trillion in 2016 to $1.5 trillion in 2017.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP
     
    There is a case to be made that the ruble is undervalued, as we can indirectly observe by the rapid forex increases at the Russian Central Bank, which is buying a lot of dollars in order to put the ruble's value at a low(er) level than is warranted by the ongoing (modest) recovery and, more importantly, the secular rise in the oil prices.

    Russia did experience an overvalued currency in the 2010-2013 period due to high oil prices and that situation has now reversed. Incidentally, this is also why the recent teasing of Russia's relatively modest nominal GDP is misleading, precisely because it is undervalued by design in order to rebalance the economy away from extraction towards more diversified industries as excessive ruble strength would hurt this effort. Furthermore, rebuilding of wealth funds and buffers is always a good thing in of itself.

    That all said, just as Russia's economy was not nearly as badly impacted as many claimed by using nominal GDP, it would similarly not be nearly as strong indicated by a strong nominal GDP growth for the same reasons. I doubt Putin is unaware of this, which is why I doubt the theory you put forward.

    Then again, given Putin's idiotic statement in the first place, nothing can be off the table at this stage. I'm just extremely annoyed when unrealistic economic arguments are being made. It poisons the public debate, to the extent there even is one. When the head of state makes them, it doesn't exactly give you a favourable impression of that country's leadership and its capabilities. Every nation's leadership likes to exaggerate its own strength for domestic political consumption, just as e.g. Germans made the eurozone crisis a morality tale of spendthrift greeks and preferred not to talk about the leading role of eurozone banks - of which Germans ones were highly guilty - in lending like crazy. But even in those situations, there is a ceiling on self-deception. That ceiling is apparently a lot higher in Russia, and there is no inherent reason why it needs to be.

    P.S. I guess I am just a Bershidsky shill today, but I am in complete agreement with his analysis of Putin's speech.

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  3. atomophobia is worse than racism

    That’s a slogan I can get behind.

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  4. I feel that Grudinin’s pro-Ukrainian views do not get sufficient exposure in the Russian media. His prospective voters, that I’ve encountered on the internet, are a lot more supportive of LDNR than he is.

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  5. It is starting to look like having elections is the single most dangerous thing for the planet.

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  6. First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth – as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year). Nobody really cares about this.

    Depressing, if true. I suppose there is political risk for anyone willing to call him out on his BS for being a ‘debbie downer’, but fundamentally a sign of an advanced nation is a leadership cadre which is realistic with their ambitions (at least the short-term ones, where there is some visibility to potential outcomes).

    The fact that Putin can just put out bizarre statements like that is only compounded by the fact that he feels he needs to, that the electorate won’t settle for being told the truth (real GDP growth of ~2% is likely and our climb to high income will take decades). Then again if nobody cares about it, then why is it even said? Putin, or his advisors, obviously feel there is some merit in doing so, otherwise the statement wouldn’t have been said. Maybe I am overthinking it, but it just seems like a bad sign when you have a leader making patently unrealistic goals.

    In the second half, wearing his purple tie of esoteric power, Putin entered hardcore Dr. Strangelove territory, revealing a range of awesome nuclear weaponry with the mediocre CGI demonstrations

    Frankly, it came off as a bit desperate. A bit “look at us!”. I think Brian Wang of NBF basically put it best, when he headlined one of his articles:

    Russian propaganda whines we have lots of nukes but you obsess about Elon Musk SpaceX and not us

    Russian military technology continues to be impressive, but Leonid Bershisky is right when he says that Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.

    He’s also right when he says that Putin should focus more on raising productivity and incomes and not just big guns. But it’s the latter that excite his base.

    And since nobody is willing to question him on his BS “50% GDP growth in 5 years”, or even cares – which frankly is even worse in some sense – there doesn’t seem to be much reason for him to change.

    Depressing.

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    • Replies: @Spisarevski
    Let's not forget that Putin does have a record of setting targets for GDP growth that looked fantastic at the time, yet were actually fulfilled.
    Of course, that was a younger Putin, and like Karlin has noted before, he is declining as a leader, probably a natural decline due to aging. But still, the fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.
    , @MEFOBILLS

    Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.
     
    Fast follower is viable strategy. It is very difficult to innovate and create.
    A country like Russia that has a lot of catching up to do, using fast follower strategy is the smart "economic" method.

    Fast Following means targeting desired industry with State Credit. It also means importing knowledge workers, for example professors and experts from the West.

    First mover advantage is overblown. For example, Google is not a big player in China due to "fast follower strategy" of using Baidu.

    The U.S. no longer benefits anyway from first mover. As soon as something is invented in the U.S., it tends to find itself manufactured in overseas industry.

    The U.S. middle class no longer grinds out incremental innovation in the trenches of industry, since industry was outsourced.
    , @Seamus Padraig
    The main problem with Putin is that he's an economic liberal. And with economic liberalism, this is as good as it gets: drag-ass annual GDP growth in the 2-3% range, with all of the profit going to the oligarchs on top. Meanwhile, wages stagnate, while assets prices and the cost of living keep increasing. It's no different in the West now either.

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they're going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning. For openers, they need to ditch Rothschild-financing and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. Then, the government needs to start looking after sectors other than just defense/aerospace and petro-chemical. But Putin will never do that. So I, for one, am not surprised that a growing number of Russian voters are taking a fresh look at the Communists. Hey: it worked for China!

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  7. The new weapons are indeed awesome, and quite the whitepill. The speech as a whole was good, at least the weapons part (didn’t watch the rest). “Nobody listened to us before. Listen to us now”.
    Gotta give it to him, he can be a badass when he wants to.

    atomophobia is worse than racism

    Good take and unironically true.

    Or, The Saker is right (for once), and Israel Shamir is wrong.

    I don’t like Grudinin for the same reasons you don’t (he is terrible on the UQ) but the media attacks against him did remind me of the campaign against Trump, and I thought that before Israel Shamir published his article. Any time you open life.ru there are several anti-Grudinin articles, such blatant and obvious propaganda campaign more than echoes the US media attitude towards Trump and I wonder whether it would actually work or will backfire.

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  8. @Anonymous
    Putin and his generals know that if one hair is mussed on Uncle Sam’s head the U.S. and its allies will make quick work of Russia and do a regime change and break up Russia. We might do that preemptively. All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military. All that talk about weapons is for internal consumption. As Karlin has said before, Russians are largely like West Virginians.

    do a regime change and break up Russia. We might do that preemptively.

    Right now USA has its hands full trying to break up Syria. You have been working on it since 2011 and made only limited progress thus far. USA is weaker than it looks.

    Read More
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  9. @Jon0815

    First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth– as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year).
     
    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP, not 50% real GDP growth (adjusted for price changes)? The former wouldn't be implausible: Russia's nominal GDP increased from around $1.3 trillion in 2016 to $1.5 trillion in 2017.

    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP

    There is a case to be made that the ruble is undervalued, as we can indirectly observe by the rapid forex increases at the Russian Central Bank, which is buying a lot of dollars in order to put the ruble’s value at a low(er) level than is warranted by the ongoing (modest) recovery and, more importantly, the secular rise in the oil prices.

    Russia did experience an overvalued currency in the 2010-2013 period due to high oil prices and that situation has now reversed. Incidentally, this is also why the recent teasing of Russia’s relatively modest nominal GDP is misleading, precisely because it is undervalued by design in order to rebalance the economy away from extraction towards more diversified industries as excessive ruble strength would hurt this effort. Furthermore, rebuilding of wealth funds and buffers is always a good thing in of itself.

    That all said, just as Russia’s economy was not nearly as badly impacted as many claimed by using nominal GDP, it would similarly not be nearly as strong indicated by a strong nominal GDP growth for the same reasons. I doubt Putin is unaware of this, which is why I doubt the theory you put forward.

    Then again, given Putin’s idiotic statement in the first place, nothing can be off the table at this stage. I’m just extremely annoyed when unrealistic economic arguments are being made. It poisons the public debate, to the extent there even is one. When the head of state makes them, it doesn’t exactly give you a favourable impression of that country’s leadership and its capabilities. Every nation’s leadership likes to exaggerate its own strength for domestic political consumption, just as e.g. Germans made the eurozone crisis a morality tale of spendthrift greeks and preferred not to talk about the leading role of eurozone banks – of which Germans ones were highly guilty – in lending like crazy. But even in those situations, there is a ceiling on self-deception. That ceiling is apparently a lot higher in Russia, and there is no inherent reason why it needs to be.

    P.S. I guess I am just a Bershidsky shill today, but I am in complete agreement with his analysis of Putin’s speech.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Beckow
    What is more likely in 2024, Russia's economy 50% larger than today, or Russia's economy smaller than today?

    We have Putin stating that he plans to grow it by 50%, and we have most Western politicians and media stating that Russia's is in a terminal economic decline, even collapse. I think Putin is closer to the truth. If he manages only 20-30% in 6 years (3-4% a year), would that be a failure? Politicians are aspirational, that's why people elect them.

    , @Kimppis
    I think some here sound a little too pessimistic. Did we read/listen to the same speech?

    Here's a summary of Putin's promises, some of them anyway:


    - In six years at least halve the level of poverty

    - Russia should not only firmly gain a foothold in the five largest economies of the world, but by the middle of the next decade to increase GDP per capita by half

    - By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently enter the club of the "80 plus" countries, where the life expectancy exceeds 80 years. This includes countries such as Japan, France, Germany.

    - In 2017, three million families in Russia improved their living conditions. Now we need to reach a stable level to the level when annually at least five million families improve their living conditions. We need to take a new height, strive to increase the volume of construction from today's 80 to 120 million square meters per year.

    - In total, in the next six years, it is necessary to almost double the cost of building and equipping the roads of Russia, to allocate for this purpose more than 11 trillion rubles from all sources. This is a lot, bearing in mind that in 2012-2017, we sent 6.4 trillion rubles for this purpose, also a large figure, but we need 11.

    - By 2024, we will provide almost universal fast Internet access.

    - In 2019-2024, the development of the health care system from all sources will require an annual average of more than 4 percent of GDP. But you need to strive, of course, to 5 percent. In absolute terms, this will mean that the total expenditure on health care should double.

    - Labor productivity in medium-sized and large enterprises of basic industries (such as industry, construction, transport, agriculture and trade) grow at a rate of not less than 5 percent per year

    - The second source of growth is an increase in investment. We already set the task to bring them up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent

    - By the middle of the next decade, its contribution to the country's GDP should approach 40 percent

    - We should practically double the volume of non-primary, non-energy exports to $ 250 billion

    - The state's share in the economy should gradually decline
     

    And one that is certainly quite questionable and hard to measure anyway:

    - As a result, the Russian research infrastructure will be one of the most powerful and effective in the world.
     
    He also admits things like:

    - In 2017, for example, the working-age population declined by almost a million. In the coming years, such a downward trend will continue, which may become a serious constraint on economic growth

    - I must say that there are some shortcomings, but in general, no matter how high the bars of these decrees were raised, if there were not, there would not be the results that we have today. Ambitious tasks must always be set
     

    Of course I'm not an expert, so I can't say how realistic all of those plans are. But atleast some of them sound realistic. We must forget that, among other things, Putin/Russia largely achieves the targets in 1. demographics, especially in life expectancy, 2. inflation (arguably actually consisderably overshooting it) and 3. the Ease of Business ranking. I don't think many people believed in any of those 5 or 10 years ago.

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he's clearly talking about PPP ("the five largest economies in the world"). So doesn't that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I'm not mistaken, it's pretty much inevitable at this point. Germany is about to lose its 5th place to Russia and the only countries that are going to be anywhere close are Indonesia and Brazil.

    When it comes to the per capita part, I don't know, I guess it's possible that he's talking about nominal GDP. But IMO, what is more likely, is that he's not actually talking about the next 6 years only, but about a longer period of time, like 2030, or even later. In my opinion, it's in any clear from the context that you shouldn't get too hung up on that "50% growth in 6 years LMAO" part.

    I don't think they're actually targeting an annual growth of 7%. That's totally ridiculous. Putin has been talking about the average global growth rate, which is around 3%, right? Now that IMO sounds like a proper target for Russia, a growth 3-4%. That's roughly the same as in many other EE countries like Poland atm.

    So overall, if that doesn't sound like a "modern Russia", then what does? Bershidsky keeps repeating those views every single time, he doesn't like Putin, nothing new. But he's a politician. That was a speech. What do some of you expect?

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  10. @Polish Perspective

    First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth – as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year). Nobody really cares about this.
     
    Depressing, if true. I suppose there is political risk for anyone willing to call him out on his BS for being a 'debbie downer', but fundamentally a sign of an advanced nation is a leadership cadre which is realistic with their ambitions (at least the short-term ones, where there is some visibility to potential outcomes).

    The fact that Putin can just put out bizarre statements like that is only compounded by the fact that he feels he needs to, that the electorate won't settle for being told the truth (real GDP growth of ~2% is likely and our climb to high income will take decades). Then again if nobody cares about it, then why is it even said? Putin, or his advisors, obviously feel there is some merit in doing so, otherwise the statement wouldn't have been said. Maybe I am overthinking it, but it just seems like a bad sign when you have a leader making patently unrealistic goals.

    In the second half, wearing his purple tie of esoteric power, Putin entered hardcore Dr. Strangelove territory, revealing a range of awesome nuclear weaponry with the mediocre CGI demonstrations
     
    Frankly, it came off as a bit desperate. A bit "look at us!". I think Brian Wang of NBF basically put it best, when he headlined one of his articles:

    Russian propaganda whines we have lots of nukes but you obsess about Elon Musk SpaceX and not us
     
    Russian military technology continues to be impressive, but Leonid Bershisky is right when he says that Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.

    He's also right when he says that Putin should focus more on raising productivity and incomes and not just big guns. But it's the latter that excite his base.

    And since nobody is willing to question him on his BS "50% GDP growth in 5 years", or even cares - which frankly is even worse in some sense - there doesn't seem to be much reason for him to change.

    Depressing.

    Let’s not forget that Putin does have a record of setting targets for GDP growth that looked fantastic at the time, yet were actually fulfilled.
    Of course, that was a younger Putin, and like Karlin has noted before, he is declining as a leader, probably a natural decline due to aging. But still, the fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    It's plain naive to think that one dude in the Kremlin can affect the economy in a meaningful way. He can make the economy fall apart, but he cannot make it grow.

    fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.
     
    Whaat? Could you elaborate?
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  11. @Polish Perspective

    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP
     
    There is a case to be made that the ruble is undervalued, as we can indirectly observe by the rapid forex increases at the Russian Central Bank, which is buying a lot of dollars in order to put the ruble's value at a low(er) level than is warranted by the ongoing (modest) recovery and, more importantly, the secular rise in the oil prices.

    Russia did experience an overvalued currency in the 2010-2013 period due to high oil prices and that situation has now reversed. Incidentally, this is also why the recent teasing of Russia's relatively modest nominal GDP is misleading, precisely because it is undervalued by design in order to rebalance the economy away from extraction towards more diversified industries as excessive ruble strength would hurt this effort. Furthermore, rebuilding of wealth funds and buffers is always a good thing in of itself.

    That all said, just as Russia's economy was not nearly as badly impacted as many claimed by using nominal GDP, it would similarly not be nearly as strong indicated by a strong nominal GDP growth for the same reasons. I doubt Putin is unaware of this, which is why I doubt the theory you put forward.

    Then again, given Putin's idiotic statement in the first place, nothing can be off the table at this stage. I'm just extremely annoyed when unrealistic economic arguments are being made. It poisons the public debate, to the extent there even is one. When the head of state makes them, it doesn't exactly give you a favourable impression of that country's leadership and its capabilities. Every nation's leadership likes to exaggerate its own strength for domestic political consumption, just as e.g. Germans made the eurozone crisis a morality tale of spendthrift greeks and preferred not to talk about the leading role of eurozone banks - of which Germans ones were highly guilty - in lending like crazy. But even in those situations, there is a ceiling on self-deception. That ceiling is apparently a lot higher in Russia, and there is no inherent reason why it needs to be.

    P.S. I guess I am just a Bershidsky shill today, but I am in complete agreement with his analysis of Putin's speech.

    What is more likely in 2024, Russia’s economy 50% larger than today, or Russia’s economy smaller than today?

    We have Putin stating that he plans to grow it by 50%, and we have most Western politicians and media stating that Russia’s is in a terminal economic decline, even collapse. I think Putin is closer to the truth. If he manages only 20-30% in 6 years (3-4% a year), would that be a failure? Politicians are aspirational, that’s why people elect them.

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    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    Sound point, sir.

    Moreover, it's embarrassing to hear Americans talking about how RUSSIA is unrealistic and not set for sustained economic growth.

    It is the USA which is drowning in government debt, unfunded government pension obligations, and household debt. Russia is not.

    So far as we can make an educated guess, the USA is likelier to collapse into widespread poverty, chaos, and violence, than Russia in the medium term.
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  12. I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.

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    • Replies: @anonymous coward

    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.
     
    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.
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  13. https://www.vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2018/02/19/751472-rosstat-ostanovil-padenie-dohodov-naseleniya

    If that article is right then it seems we may need to add Russia to the offending list of nations that manipulate their data to come across as better than they are. Overall, I believe Russian GDP data is decent as it largely tracks fast-moving indicators, but real incomes is a different story from GDP. Just because GDP returns does not mean that real incomes do. See the UK post-2010 for further reference.

    It also seems that consumer spending is improving largely on the back of increasing consumer loans. Russia’s household debt is low, so there shouldn’t be a major issue in this regard, but the question that has to be asked is how high their interest rates are on those loans. If the debt repayment constitutes a fairly high proportion of household expenses then it could be because of high interest rates and the net effect is the same as in West, where there is high debt among households but low interest rates.

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    • Replies: @utu

    It also seems that consumer spending is improving largely on the back of increasing consumer loans. Russia’s household debt is low, so there shouldn’t be a major issue in this regard, but the question that has to be asked is how high their interest rates are on those loans. If the debt repayment constitutes a fairly high proportion of household expenses then it could be because of high interest rates and the net effect is the same as in West, where there is high debt among households but low interest rates.
     
    Wow. With this talent for the neolib meaningless BS you should be making right now great career and lots of money or at least be a talking head somewhere instead of wasting time at this niche site. So what is your deficit? A radio face?
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  14. @Spisarevski
    Let's not forget that Putin does have a record of setting targets for GDP growth that looked fantastic at the time, yet were actually fulfilled.
    Of course, that was a younger Putin, and like Karlin has noted before, he is declining as a leader, probably a natural decline due to aging. But still, the fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.

    It’s plain naive to think that one dude in the Kremlin can affect the economy in a meaningful way. He can make the economy fall apart, but he cannot make it grow.

    fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.

    Whaat? Could you elaborate?

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    • Replies: @A22
    Care to elaborate on why are you so blackpilled about the structure of the Russian economy ?
    I mean I am sure there are some serious structural problems otherwise we wouldn't have ended up in these years of stagnation. But what are these problems and how hard is it to fix them ? Why do you believe that the president of Russia does not have the ability to fix them ?
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  15. @Anonymous
    Putin and his generals know that if one hair is mussed on Uncle Sam’s head the U.S. and its allies will make quick work of Russia and do a regime change and break up Russia. We might do that preemptively. All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military. All that talk about weapons is for internal consumption. As Karlin has said before, Russians are largely like West Virginians.

    All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military.

    US will have to recruit more skool shootas to increase combat readiness.

    ABM system are still easily fooled and barely effective against a re-entering frozen chicken.

    Meanwhile, does Russia want to go up against Chtulhu? All these new toys (a few of which are barely testable, a nuclear ramjet, especially a nuclear underwater ramjet, are Hot Things). The orbiting nukes thing (FOBS – Fractional Orbit Bombardment System) is rather pedestrian, but it amounts to breaking a few treaties.

    Case Nightmare Green when?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh

    Meanwhile, does Russia want to go up against Chtulhu? All these new toys (a few of which are barely testable, a nuclear ramjet, especially a nuclear underwater ramjet, are Hot Things). The orbiting nukes thing (FOBS – Fractional Orbit Bombardment System) is rather pedestrian, but it amounts to breaking a few treaties.
     
    When the aliens invade, you'll be grateful that they put thought into Very Big Booms.
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  16. Read More
    • Replies: @Beckow
    Ooops, what voters was Sobchak going after there?

    My guess would be no more speeches to Foreign Policy associations in Georgetown. But then again, maybe they will just pretend in never happened...
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  17. @El Dato

    All those Russian weapons can easily be neutralized by the U.S. military.
     
    US will have to recruit more skool shootas to increase combat readiness.

    ABM system are still easily fooled and barely effective against a re-entering frozen chicken.

    Meanwhile, does Russia want to go up against Chtulhu? All these new toys (a few of which are barely testable, a nuclear ramjet, especially a nuclear underwater ramjet, are Hot Things). The orbiting nukes thing (FOBS - Fractional Orbit Bombardment System) is rather pedestrian, but it amounts to breaking a few treaties.

    Case Nightmare Green when?

    Meanwhile, does Russia want to go up against Chtulhu? All these new toys (a few of which are barely testable, a nuclear ramjet, especially a nuclear underwater ramjet, are Hot Things). The orbiting nukes thing (FOBS – Fractional Orbit Bombardment System) is rather pedestrian, but it amounts to breaking a few treaties.

    When the aliens invade, you’ll be grateful that they put thought into Very Big Booms.

    Read More
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  18. utu says:
    @Polish Perspective
    https://www.vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2018/02/19/751472-rosstat-ostanovil-padenie-dohodov-naseleniya

    If that article is right then it seems we may need to add Russia to the offending list of nations that manipulate their data to come across as better than they are. Overall, I believe Russian GDP data is decent as it largely tracks fast-moving indicators, but real incomes is a different story from GDP. Just because GDP returns does not mean that real incomes do. See the UK post-2010 for further reference.

    It also seems that consumer spending is improving largely on the back of increasing consumer loans. Russia's household debt is low, so there shouldn't be a major issue in this regard, but the question that has to be asked is how high their interest rates are on those loans. If the debt repayment constitutes a fairly high proportion of household expenses then it could be because of high interest rates and the net effect is the same as in West, where there is high debt among households but low interest rates.

    It also seems that consumer spending is improving largely on the back of increasing consumer loans. Russia’s household debt is low, so there shouldn’t be a major issue in this regard, but the question that has to be asked is how high their interest rates are on those loans. If the debt repayment constitutes a fairly high proportion of household expenses then it could be because of high interest rates and the net effect is the same as in West, where there is high debt among households but low interest rates.

    Wow. With this talent for the neolib meaningless BS you should be making right now great career and lots of money or at least be a talking head somewhere instead of wasting time at this niche site. So what is your deficit? A radio face?

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  19. @Anatoly Karlin
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRNVoYOszpc

    Ooops, what voters was Sobchak going after there?

    My guess would be no more speeches to Foreign Policy associations in Georgetown. But then again, maybe they will just pretend in never happened…

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I tore her speech ridiculously out of context. :)

    We at ROGPR had this half-baked idea to meme Xenia from a ZOGling whore into a hardcore Nazi Russian supremacist.

    https://twitter.com/akarlin88/status/920786609993330689

    But the power of the ZOG necklace could not be undone.

    https://twitter.com/akarlin88/status/962369118417686529
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  20. In the meantime, this happens:

    “White House preparing for exit of national security advisor HR McMaster: NBC News”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/01/white-house-preparing-for-exit-of-national-security-advisor-hr-mcmaster-nbc-news.html

    Read More
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  21. @Polish Perspective

    Maybe he means 50% increase in nominal GDP
     
    There is a case to be made that the ruble is undervalued, as we can indirectly observe by the rapid forex increases at the Russian Central Bank, which is buying a lot of dollars in order to put the ruble's value at a low(er) level than is warranted by the ongoing (modest) recovery and, more importantly, the secular rise in the oil prices.

    Russia did experience an overvalued currency in the 2010-2013 period due to high oil prices and that situation has now reversed. Incidentally, this is also why the recent teasing of Russia's relatively modest nominal GDP is misleading, precisely because it is undervalued by design in order to rebalance the economy away from extraction towards more diversified industries as excessive ruble strength would hurt this effort. Furthermore, rebuilding of wealth funds and buffers is always a good thing in of itself.

    That all said, just as Russia's economy was not nearly as badly impacted as many claimed by using nominal GDP, it would similarly not be nearly as strong indicated by a strong nominal GDP growth for the same reasons. I doubt Putin is unaware of this, which is why I doubt the theory you put forward.

    Then again, given Putin's idiotic statement in the first place, nothing can be off the table at this stage. I'm just extremely annoyed when unrealistic economic arguments are being made. It poisons the public debate, to the extent there even is one. When the head of state makes them, it doesn't exactly give you a favourable impression of that country's leadership and its capabilities. Every nation's leadership likes to exaggerate its own strength for domestic political consumption, just as e.g. Germans made the eurozone crisis a morality tale of spendthrift greeks and preferred not to talk about the leading role of eurozone banks - of which Germans ones were highly guilty - in lending like crazy. But even in those situations, there is a ceiling on self-deception. That ceiling is apparently a lot higher in Russia, and there is no inherent reason why it needs to be.

    P.S. I guess I am just a Bershidsky shill today, but I am in complete agreement with his analysis of Putin's speech.

    I think some here sound a little too pessimistic. Did we read/listen to the same speech?

    Here’s a summary of Putin’s promises, some of them anyway:

    - In six years at least halve the level of poverty

    - Russia should not only firmly gain a foothold in the five largest economies of the world, but by the middle of the next decade to increase GDP per capita by half

    - By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently enter the club of the “80 plus” countries, where the life expectancy exceeds 80 years. This includes countries such as Japan, France, Germany.

    - In 2017, three million families in Russia improved their living conditions. Now we need to reach a stable level to the level when annually at least five million families improve their living conditions. We need to take a new height, strive to increase the volume of construction from today’s 80 to 120 million square meters per year.

    - In total, in the next six years, it is necessary to almost double the cost of building and equipping the roads of Russia, to allocate for this purpose more than 11 trillion rubles from all sources. This is a lot, bearing in mind that in 2012-2017, we sent 6.4 trillion rubles for this purpose, also a large figure, but we need 11.

    - By 2024, we will provide almost universal fast Internet access.

    - In 2019-2024, the development of the health care system from all sources will require an annual average of more than 4 percent of GDP. But you need to strive, of course, to 5 percent. In absolute terms, this will mean that the total expenditure on health care should double.

    - Labor productivity in medium-sized and large enterprises of basic industries (such as industry, construction, transport, agriculture and trade) grow at a rate of not less than 5 percent per year

    - The second source of growth is an increase in investment. We already set the task to bring them up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent

    - By the middle of the next decade, its contribution to the country’s GDP should approach 40 percent

    - We should practically double the volume of non-primary, non-energy exports to $ 250 billion

    - The state’s share in the economy should gradually decline

    And one that is certainly quite questionable and hard to measure anyway:

    - As a result, the Russian research infrastructure will be one of the most powerful and effective in the world.

    He also admits things like:

    – In 2017, for example, the working-age population declined by almost a million. In the coming years, such a downward trend will continue, which may become a serious constraint on economic growth

    - I must say that there are some shortcomings, but in general, no matter how high the bars of these decrees were raised, if there were not, there would not be the results that we have today. Ambitious tasks must always be set

    Of course I’m not an expert, so I can’t say how realistic all of those plans are. But atleast some of them sound realistic. We must forget that, among other things, Putin/Russia largely achieves the targets in 1. demographics, especially in life expectancy, 2. inflation (arguably actually consisderably overshooting it) and 3. the Ease of Business ranking. I don’t think many people believed in any of those 5 or 10 years ago.

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he’s clearly talking about PPP (“the five largest economies in the world”). So doesn’t that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I’m not mistaken, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point. Germany is about to lose its 5th place to Russia and the only countries that are going to be anywhere close are Indonesia and Brazil.

    When it comes to the per capita part, I don’t know, I guess it’s possible that he’s talking about nominal GDP. But IMO, what is more likely, is that he’s not actually talking about the next 6 years only, but about a longer period of time, like 2030, or even later. In my opinion, it’s in any clear from the context that you shouldn’t get too hung up on that “50% growth in 6 years LMAO” part.

    I don’t think they’re actually targeting an annual growth of 7%. That’s totally ridiculous. Putin has been talking about the average global growth rate, which is around 3%, right? Now that IMO sounds like a proper target for Russia, a growth 3-4%. That’s roughly the same as in many other EE countries like Poland atm.

    So overall, if that doesn’t sound like a “modern Russia”, then what does? Bershidsky keeps repeating those views every single time, he doesn’t like Putin, nothing new. But he’s a politician. That was a speech. What do some of you expect?

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    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he’s clearly talking about PPP (“the five largest economies in the world”). So doesn’t that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I’m not mistaken, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point.
     
    Oh, I agree with that. But if you paid close attention to my comment, you'd noticed that I was not talking about the feasibility of Russia being a top 5 economy in PPP terms in the near future ;-)

    I was talking about this:


    increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth
     
    I am not a fluent Russian speaker, though perhaps you are, so I am reliant on others relaying the speech to me. I take AK's word at face-value and so when he writes that, I assume it is correct. You may disagree with AK's relay of Putin's speech, but that is a bone of contention you'll have with him, not with those who rely on the translation ;-)

    I can’t say how realistic all of those plans are.
     
    The usual caveat that I have to rely on other people being accurate - in this case you and your list of Putin's speech - I think it is a mixed bag. Aiming to get a investment share of GDP to 40% by the end of next decade is very unrealistic. Even high-saving nations like South Korea get barely more than 30-32%. China does get over 40% but that is largely because of massive distortions and even the Chinese are admitting that it is excessive. Unless Russia wants to run gigantic current account deficits, it needs to match that investment rate by raising the savings rate to a similar level and that is also unrealistic.

    This is because investment-led growth has to be paired with export-led industrialisation. Russia's exports as a share of GDP is quite low, and most of what it exports is natural resources. Furthermore, it doesn't even need 40% investment of GDP. But I'm not going to go off in a giant detour of economic theory for the purposes of a comment.

    The state’s share in the economy should gradually decline
     
    This is another promise I find unrealistic. Not because it is unfeasible per se. More so because Putin's instincts are decidedly statist. As AK has pointed out, the state now controls close to 70% of the economy. Putin has been in power for 18 years.

    The only way for this to happen is for him to break all past historical precedent and radically move in the other direction. Is it possible? Yes. But probable? No. If he had a strong desire to decrease the state's involvement, we would have seen it by now and those who insist otherwise have the burden of proof on them, rather than to ask us to suspect disbelief and assume that a person's established behaviour, at an advanced age and after 18 years of power, will suddenly change on a dime. It can happen, as can anything, but those insisting that it will have the proof of burden, not the other way around. In my humble opinion, of course. Also, the caveat that your translation/interpretation is correct naturally applies. Otherwise I may be too harsh on Putin through no fault of his own!
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Thanks for the comprehensive summary.

    The LE goal is doable, in my opion - High scenario from my 2008 projections:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/scen36.jpg

    Russia has tracked it perfectly to date (72.7 years as of 2017). I expect it to hit 75 years by 2021, and 80 years by 2030 is ambitious but not entirely unrealistic, even if I expect it to fall a bit short.

    The economic goals sound nice, but of course the major question is where the money is going to come from. It doesn't sound like Putin intends to do any downsizing of the forest of security ministries that have sprouted up, so I assume most of it will fall on the military - and indeed, this is what recent reports about the armaments program have indeed been trending towards. (In which case the Russia stronk segment of his speech makes much more sense, to entertain the hurrah-patriots with fluff).

    Despite my criticisms, I am reasonably optimistic about Russia's growth prospects in the medium-term. 3-4% from 2020 is realistic IMO.

    About increasing GDP:

    Россия должна не только прочно закрепиться в пятерке крупнейших экономик мира, но к середине следующего десятилетия увеличить ВВП на душу населения в полтора раза
     
    --> needs to increase GDP per capita 1.5x by the middle of the next decade (so, okay, let's consider that 2025). Patently unrealistic, of course.
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  22. OK, it seems that he’s actually talking about middle of the next decade, because that’s what I’m quoting as well. :D But the point is that it might’ve been a mistake or something. It’s not the important part. Putin has been talking about achieving growth rates around the global average, not 7%. And I think some minister or expert (could it have been Kudrin of all people?), don’t remember exactly, was talking about something similar, but by 2030, or even slightly later.

    Sorry for the walls-of-text and double post!

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  23. OT: One of the themes I’ve been writing about for some time is how the media in the West is de facto state-controlled on the important issues (3rd world invasion, neo-Cohenist foreign policy) that truly matter. The media will only put up token resistance within a narrow and pre-defined set of parameters.

    The latest salvo in my argument? Take the Irish government. It’s ironic that this article is published in the UK, though perhaps not a coincidence. There have been some murmurs in the Irish press but by and large these are just that: murmurs.

    The overwhelming portion of the media will comply like good puppets and propagandise the complete replacement of the Irish, primarily by non-EU 3rd worlders. And before someone mentions Poles in Ireland, believe me, I’m not pro-Schengen. It has hurt us more than it has helped us. And it also threatens to undermine the unique character of European countries in favour of a bland whiteness á la America. Which would be a tragedy.

    When the Western governments want to invade a country – Iraq, Libya or now Syria – the same effect comes into play. All these self-deluded “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” slogans fly out of the window, then.

    When it actually matters, when there is an issue of significant importance, the so-called “independent media” of the West are nothing but attack dogs of the government willingly implemented the agenda at stake. This is also why there is such a freakout over Poland or Hungary in the EU, because there is now genuine competition inside the countries. In fact, in some ways, political discourse in Poland is far more pluralistic and diverse than it is in, say, Germany or Sweden. The right-wing is only really represented at the state broadcaster(TVP) whereas most of the private media, which still dominates, is either centrist or outright leftist/liberal.

    On immigration, there is a genuine domestic debate as to whether Poland should accept more than token non-European immigration. Can one say the same thing about Germany or Ireland? Yet it is our democracy which is supposedly in danger.

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    • Replies: @German_reader
    Link to the Times story doesn't work, googled it, but it's mostly behind a paywall...isn't this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement (Nigerians as the "new Irish" and the like)?
    Anyway, I'm in agreement with you...most Western journalists are scum. They're also strikingly stupid, no real education, no real knowledge about the topics they're writing about, not really able to investigate anything...their only "skill" is reiterating the talking points of their fellow journalists. And then they expect to be treated with deference because they're supposedly speaking truth to power and providing a valuable service for democracy...lol.
    German journalists are really horrible in this regard (the term Lügenpresse was coined with good reason). They've now taken to bashing Austria as well...the overpaid parasites from Germany's public broadcasting services have written an "open letter" to the Austrians, basically admonishing chancellor Kurz that he has to punish his coalition partners from the FPÖ (one FPÖ politician had jokingly accused the Austrian state broadcaster ORF of spreading fake news...which is probably true given their manipulative reporting - last stunt they pulled was showing a video in which some old man ranted about Jews and expressed nostalgia for Nazism, with a FPÖ politician apparently nodding along approvingly - turns out they had cut off the part where the FPÖ man expresses his disapproval of the old man's opinions...). If anything is ever to change for the better in Germany and Austria, these public broadcasting services have to be purged/dissolved.
    To come somewhat back on topic, I'm really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their "Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!" stories...the double standards are just bizarre. But unfortunately lots of people believe this stuff.
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  24. @Beckow
    Ooops, what voters was Sobchak going after there?

    My guess would be no more speeches to Foreign Policy associations in Georgetown. But then again, maybe they will just pretend in never happened...

    I tore her speech ridiculously out of context. :)

    We at ROGPR had this half-baked idea to meme Xenia from a ZOGling whore into a hardcore Nazi Russian supremacist.

    But the power of the ZOG necklace could not be undone.

    Read More
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  25. @Polish Perspective
    OT: One of the themes I've been writing about for some time is how the media in the West is de facto state-controlled on the important issues (3rd world invasion, neo-Cohenist foreign policy) that truly matter. The media will only put up token resistance within a narrow and pre-defined set of parameters.

    The latest salvo in my argument? Take the Irish government. It's ironic that this article is published in the UK, though perhaps not a coincidence. There have been some murmurs in the Irish press but by and large these are just that: murmurs.

    The overwhelming portion of the media will comply like good puppets and propagandise the complete replacement of the Irish, primarily by non-EU 3rd worlders. And before someone mentions Poles in Ireland, believe me, I'm not pro-Schengen. It has hurt us more than it has helped us. And it also threatens to undermine the unique character of European countries in favour of a bland whiteness á la America. Which would be a tragedy.

    When the Western governments want to invade a country - Iraq, Libya or now Syria - the same effect comes into play. All these self-deluded "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" slogans fly out of the window, then.

    When it actually matters, when there is an issue of significant importance, the so-called "independent media" of the West are nothing but attack dogs of the government willingly implemented the agenda at stake. This is also why there is such a freakout over Poland or Hungary in the EU, because there is now genuine competition inside the countries. In fact, in some ways, political discourse in Poland is far more pluralistic and diverse than it is in, say, Germany or Sweden. The right-wing is only really represented at the state broadcaster(TVP) whereas most of the private media, which still dominates, is either centrist or outright leftist/liberal.

    On immigration, there is a genuine domestic debate as to whether Poland should accept more than token non-European immigration. Can one say the same thing about Germany or Ireland? Yet it is our democracy which is supposedly in danger.

    Link to the Times story doesn’t work, googled it, but it’s mostly behind a paywall…isn’t this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement (Nigerians as the “new Irish” and the like)?
    Anyway, I’m in agreement with you…most Western journalists are scum. They’re also strikingly stupid, no real education, no real knowledge about the topics they’re writing about, not really able to investigate anything…their only “skill” is reiterating the talking points of their fellow journalists. And then they expect to be treated with deference because they’re supposedly speaking truth to power and providing a valuable service for democracy…lol.
    German journalists are really horrible in this regard (the term Lügenpresse was coined with good reason). They’ve now taken to bashing Austria as well…the overpaid parasites from Germany’s public broadcasting services have written an “open letter” to the Austrians, basically admonishing chancellor Kurz that he has to punish his coalition partners from the FPÖ (one FPÖ politician had jokingly accused the Austrian state broadcaster ORF of spreading fake news…which is probably true given their manipulative reporting – last stunt they pulled was showing a video in which some old man ranted about Jews and expressed nostalgia for Nazism, with a FPÖ politician apparently nodding along approvingly – turns out they had cut off the part where the FPÖ man expresses his disapproval of the old man’s opinions…). If anything is ever to change for the better in Germany and Austria, these public broadcasting services have to be purged/dissolved.
    To come somewhat back on topic, I’m really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their “Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!” stories…the double standards are just bizarre. But unfortunately lots of people believe this stuff.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    I’m really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their “Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!” stories…
     
    Yeah, I also thought that with the fall of Aleppo the atrocity propaganda would be over. It’s now back in full force.
    , @Polish Perspective

    isn’t this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement
     
    It's much greater than that. The Irish government will invest money to push a political program in the private media, both through ads but also paid Op-Eds. There won't be any counter-veiling opinions on it.

    The numbers we are talking about are striking. 2 million new citizens up to 2040, hence the name "Project Ireland 2040". Just for context, Ireland's current population is a mere 4.7 million.

    We're talking 42% of Ireland's current population. Over less than just 22 years. Most of them coming from non-EU countries. You'd think that the private media would have an open (and critical) debate over this, instead it is allowing itself to be used as a vehicle for government propaganda in order to condition the Irish to accept this.

    Hence my point about the fictitious "independent" media in the West. When it actually counts, they roll over like dogs.
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  26. More confirmation Grudinin is by far the most pro-Ukrainian of the main non-liberal candidates.

    He, like most Russians, just doesn’t care about Ukraine.

    It’s like with the establishment Republican politicians and immigration (according to Derb.) Most of them had never thought about the issue to form any sort of opinion, so, if asked, they get a deer-in-the-headlights- look and mouth some politically correct bromide.

    Based on my observations, only two types of people in Russia care about Ukraine:

    1. A larger group: People with some personal connection to Ukraine; usually who are from Ukraine.
    2. A tiny group: History nerds who think a tremendous amount about the past.

    Others don’t care.

    This is true about the leadership. Yeltsin (who is from the Urals) didn’t care about Ukraine. Putin (from St. Petersburg) doesn’t care. Grudinin (Moscow region) doesn’t care. But if the heights of the power in Russia were still occupied by the Eastern Ukrainian mafia, like in 1953-83, I can guarantee there’d be Russian tanks in Kiev years ago.

    So what’s the solution (assuming you yourself care about Ukraine?) Simple. Elect leaders from one of the two categories above.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry

    He, like most Russians, just doesn’t care about Ukraine.

    It’s like with the establishment Republican politicians and immigration (according to Derb.) Most of them had never thought about the issue to form any sort of opinion, so, if asked, they get a deer-in-the-headlights- look and mouth some politically correct bromide.

    Based on my observations, only two types of people in Russia care about Ukraine:

    1. A larger group: People with some personal connection to Ukraine; usually who are from Ukraine.
    2. A tiny group: History nerds who think a tremendous amount about the past.

    Others don’t care.

     

    Subject was interesting for around 6 months, maybe 1 year if you're really engrossed - but now this is four years later, of course most people are not paying much attention about the subject, beyond viewing things at the expense of Ukrainians.
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  27. until called upon to detonate its 100MT yield warhead at a port

    Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever exploded, was 50 megatons.

    Description of its effects from Wikipedia:

    All buildings in the village of Severny (both wooden and brick), located 55 km (34 mi) from ground zero within the Sukhoy Nos test range, were destroyed. In districts hundreds of kilometers from ground zero wooden houses were destroyed, stone ones lost their roofs, windows, doors, and radio communications were interrupted for almost one hour. One participant in the test saw a bright flash through dark goggles and felt the effects of a thermal pulse even at a distance of 270 kilometres (170 mi). The heat from the explosion could have caused third-degree burns 100 km (62 mi) away from ground zero. A shock wave was observed in the air at Dikson settlement 700 km (430 mi) away; windowpanes were partially broken to distances of 900 kilometres (560 mi).[24] Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage at even greater distances, breaking windows in Norway and Finland. Despite being detonated 4.2 km above ground, its seismic body wave magnitude was estimated at 5–5.25.[10][21] Sensors continued to identify the shockwaves after their third trip around the world.[11][25]

    Sweet dreams.

    Read More
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  28. @German_reader
    Link to the Times story doesn't work, googled it, but it's mostly behind a paywall...isn't this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement (Nigerians as the "new Irish" and the like)?
    Anyway, I'm in agreement with you...most Western journalists are scum. They're also strikingly stupid, no real education, no real knowledge about the topics they're writing about, not really able to investigate anything...their only "skill" is reiterating the talking points of their fellow journalists. And then they expect to be treated with deference because they're supposedly speaking truth to power and providing a valuable service for democracy...lol.
    German journalists are really horrible in this regard (the term Lügenpresse was coined with good reason). They've now taken to bashing Austria as well...the overpaid parasites from Germany's public broadcasting services have written an "open letter" to the Austrians, basically admonishing chancellor Kurz that he has to punish his coalition partners from the FPÖ (one FPÖ politician had jokingly accused the Austrian state broadcaster ORF of spreading fake news...which is probably true given their manipulative reporting - last stunt they pulled was showing a video in which some old man ranted about Jews and expressed nostalgia for Nazism, with a FPÖ politician apparently nodding along approvingly - turns out they had cut off the part where the FPÖ man expresses his disapproval of the old man's opinions...). If anything is ever to change for the better in Germany and Austria, these public broadcasting services have to be purged/dissolved.
    To come somewhat back on topic, I'm really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their "Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!" stories...the double standards are just bizarre. But unfortunately lots of people believe this stuff.

    I’m really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their “Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!” stories…

    Yeah, I also thought that with the fall of Aleppo the atrocity propaganda would be over. It’s now back in full force.

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  29. I hope that Zhirik and Sobchak thing was scripted. if not, then it’s goodnight. otoh, if it was, then I don’t see how it helps them to increase turnout.

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  30. Heads up! Heads up!
    Here’s another one!
    And a – and another one
    OOHHHHHHHH!!!

    [rubbish CGI plays]

    Yeek yeek! (Woop woop!) why you all in my ear?!
    Making a whole bunch of threats that I don’t like to hear!
    Get nuked motherfucker, you don’t know me like that!
    Yeek yeek woop woop!! I ain’t playing around!
    Make one false move I’ll take ya down
    Get nuked muhfucker! You don’t know me like that!
    (Get nuked muhfucker!! You don’t know me like that!!) – Vladimir V Putin.

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  31. @inertial

    More confirmation Grudinin is by far the most pro-Ukrainian of the main non-liberal candidates.
     
    He, like most Russians, just doesn't care about Ukraine.

    It's like with the establishment Republican politicians and immigration (according to Derb.) Most of them had never thought about the issue to form any sort of opinion, so, if asked, they get a deer-in-the-headlights- look and mouth some politically correct bromide.

    Based on my observations, only two types of people in Russia care about Ukraine:

    1. A larger group: People with some personal connection to Ukraine; usually who are from Ukraine.
    2. A tiny group: History nerds who think a tremendous amount about the past.

    Others don't care.

    This is true about the leadership. Yeltsin (who is from the Urals) didn't care about Ukraine. Putin (from St. Petersburg) doesn't care. Grudinin (Moscow region) doesn't care. But if the heights of the power in Russia were still occupied by the Eastern Ukrainian mafia, like in 1953-83, I can guarantee there'd be Russian tanks in Kiev years ago.

    So what's the solution (assuming you yourself care about Ukraine?) Simple. Elect leaders from one of the two categories above.

    He, like most Russians, just doesn’t care about Ukraine.

    It’s like with the establishment Republican politicians and immigration (according to Derb.) Most of them had never thought about the issue to form any sort of opinion, so, if asked, they get a deer-in-the-headlights- look and mouth some politically correct bromide.

    Based on my observations, only two types of people in Russia care about Ukraine:

    1. A larger group: People with some personal connection to Ukraine; usually who are from Ukraine.
    2. A tiny group: History nerds who think a tremendous amount about the past.

    Others don’t care.

    Subject was interesting for around 6 months, maybe 1 year if you’re really engrossed – but now this is four years later, of course most people are not paying much attention about the subject, beyond viewing things at the expense of Ukrainians.

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  32. A22 says:
    @Felix Keverich
    It's plain naive to think that one dude in the Kremlin can affect the economy in a meaningful way. He can make the economy fall apart, but he cannot make it grow.

    fundamentals of the Russian economy are very good and surprisingly high growth is not completely out of the question.
     
    Whaat? Could you elaborate?

    Care to elaborate on why are you so blackpilled about the structure of the Russian economy ?
    I mean I am sure there are some serious structural problems otherwise we wouldn’t have ended up in these years of stagnation. But what are these problems and how hard is it to fix them ? Why do you believe that the president of Russia does not have the ability to fix them ?

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    Sure, I made a post about Russia's structural problems a couple of months back:

    Numerous factors affect the economic growth. Russia’s working-age population recently started to decline – this will be a major drag on GDP till 2030. There is other stuff as well. Russia is plagued by low labor productivity. Soviet era industrial enterprises employ more people than they need, because the government tells them to, because that’s their way of maintaining social peace. You can’t just fire extra workers, because a lot of these industrial enterprises are located in isolated Soviet era monotowns”, where people have nothing else do. People won’t move. Russia’s labor mobility is low for the reasons that are economic, administrative and cultural.
    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/sovkhoz-candidate/#comment-2132569

    That's just a few examples. Fixing these issues will require painful reforms, that Putin will never attempt as they have a chance of destabilising his regime. And even if he attempts these reforms, growth is not guaranteed.

    The economy is a highly complex system, and growth is the product of the decisions, made by millions of independent economic agents. The government may attempt to incentivize them (by removing structural bottlenecks in the economy, improving business climate etc), but it has no sure way of knowing how agents in economy will respond to government's incentives, it certainly has no control over their decision-making. To put it simply, the government is not responsible for economic growth. It's up to the people themselves really: they gotta start new companies, invent new products and get rich. The government must give them freedom to do so. Apart from that, so long as the government is avoiding steps that are actively harmful such as price controls, there is not much else the dude in the Kremlin can do for economic growth.

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow. That's plain naivety.

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  33. @German_reader
    Link to the Times story doesn't work, googled it, but it's mostly behind a paywall...isn't this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement (Nigerians as the "new Irish" and the like)?
    Anyway, I'm in agreement with you...most Western journalists are scum. They're also strikingly stupid, no real education, no real knowledge about the topics they're writing about, not really able to investigate anything...their only "skill" is reiterating the talking points of their fellow journalists. And then they expect to be treated with deference because they're supposedly speaking truth to power and providing a valuable service for democracy...lol.
    German journalists are really horrible in this regard (the term Lügenpresse was coined with good reason). They've now taken to bashing Austria as well...the overpaid parasites from Germany's public broadcasting services have written an "open letter" to the Austrians, basically admonishing chancellor Kurz that he has to punish his coalition partners from the FPÖ (one FPÖ politician had jokingly accused the Austrian state broadcaster ORF of spreading fake news...which is probably true given their manipulative reporting - last stunt they pulled was showing a video in which some old man ranted about Jews and expressed nostalgia for Nazism, with a FPÖ politician apparently nodding along approvingly - turns out they had cut off the part where the FPÖ man expresses his disapproval of the old man's opinions...). If anything is ever to change for the better in Germany and Austria, these public broadcasting services have to be purged/dissolved.
    To come somewhat back on topic, I'm really stunned how the media is once again pushing atrocity porn about the bombing of East Ghouta, with all their "Putin is killing children, and the world is doing nothing!" stories...the double standards are just bizarre. But unfortunately lots of people believe this stuff.

    isn’t this about some video which basically is propaganda for the great replacement

    It’s much greater than that. The Irish government will invest money to push a political program in the private media, both through ads but also paid Op-Eds. There won’t be any counter-veiling opinions on it.

    The numbers we are talking about are striking. 2 million new citizens up to 2040, hence the name “Project Ireland 2040″. Just for context, Ireland’s current population is a mere 4.7 million.

    We’re talking 42% of Ireland’s current population. Over less than just 22 years. Most of them coming from non-EU countries. You’d think that the private media would have an open (and critical) debate over this, instead it is allowing itself to be used as a vehicle for government propaganda in order to condition the Irish to accept this.

    Hence my point about the fictitious “independent” media in the West. When it actually counts, they roll over like dogs.

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  34. @Kimppis
    I think some here sound a little too pessimistic. Did we read/listen to the same speech?

    Here's a summary of Putin's promises, some of them anyway:


    - In six years at least halve the level of poverty

    - Russia should not only firmly gain a foothold in the five largest economies of the world, but by the middle of the next decade to increase GDP per capita by half

    - By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently enter the club of the "80 plus" countries, where the life expectancy exceeds 80 years. This includes countries such as Japan, France, Germany.

    - In 2017, three million families in Russia improved their living conditions. Now we need to reach a stable level to the level when annually at least five million families improve their living conditions. We need to take a new height, strive to increase the volume of construction from today's 80 to 120 million square meters per year.

    - In total, in the next six years, it is necessary to almost double the cost of building and equipping the roads of Russia, to allocate for this purpose more than 11 trillion rubles from all sources. This is a lot, bearing in mind that in 2012-2017, we sent 6.4 trillion rubles for this purpose, also a large figure, but we need 11.

    - By 2024, we will provide almost universal fast Internet access.

    - In 2019-2024, the development of the health care system from all sources will require an annual average of more than 4 percent of GDP. But you need to strive, of course, to 5 percent. In absolute terms, this will mean that the total expenditure on health care should double.

    - Labor productivity in medium-sized and large enterprises of basic industries (such as industry, construction, transport, agriculture and trade) grow at a rate of not less than 5 percent per year

    - The second source of growth is an increase in investment. We already set the task to bring them up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent

    - By the middle of the next decade, its contribution to the country's GDP should approach 40 percent

    - We should practically double the volume of non-primary, non-energy exports to $ 250 billion

    - The state's share in the economy should gradually decline
     

    And one that is certainly quite questionable and hard to measure anyway:

    - As a result, the Russian research infrastructure will be one of the most powerful and effective in the world.
     
    He also admits things like:

    - In 2017, for example, the working-age population declined by almost a million. In the coming years, such a downward trend will continue, which may become a serious constraint on economic growth

    - I must say that there are some shortcomings, but in general, no matter how high the bars of these decrees were raised, if there were not, there would not be the results that we have today. Ambitious tasks must always be set
     

    Of course I'm not an expert, so I can't say how realistic all of those plans are. But atleast some of them sound realistic. We must forget that, among other things, Putin/Russia largely achieves the targets in 1. demographics, especially in life expectancy, 2. inflation (arguably actually consisderably overshooting it) and 3. the Ease of Business ranking. I don't think many people believed in any of those 5 or 10 years ago.

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he's clearly talking about PPP ("the five largest economies in the world"). So doesn't that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I'm not mistaken, it's pretty much inevitable at this point. Germany is about to lose its 5th place to Russia and the only countries that are going to be anywhere close are Indonesia and Brazil.

    When it comes to the per capita part, I don't know, I guess it's possible that he's talking about nominal GDP. But IMO, what is more likely, is that he's not actually talking about the next 6 years only, but about a longer period of time, like 2030, or even later. In my opinion, it's in any clear from the context that you shouldn't get too hung up on that "50% growth in 6 years LMAO" part.

    I don't think they're actually targeting an annual growth of 7%. That's totally ridiculous. Putin has been talking about the average global growth rate, which is around 3%, right? Now that IMO sounds like a proper target for Russia, a growth 3-4%. That's roughly the same as in many other EE countries like Poland atm.

    So overall, if that doesn't sound like a "modern Russia", then what does? Bershidsky keeps repeating those views every single time, he doesn't like Putin, nothing new. But he's a politician. That was a speech. What do some of you expect?

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he’s clearly talking about PPP (“the five largest economies in the world”). So doesn’t that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I’m not mistaken, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point.

    Oh, I agree with that. But if you paid close attention to my comment, you’d noticed that I was not talking about the feasibility of Russia being a top 5 economy in PPP terms in the near future ;-)

    I was talking about this:

    increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth

    I am not a fluent Russian speaker, though perhaps you are, so I am reliant on others relaying the speech to me. I take AK’s word at face-value and so when he writes that, I assume it is correct. You may disagree with AK’s relay of Putin’s speech, but that is a bone of contention you’ll have with him, not with those who rely on the translation ;-)

    I can’t say how realistic all of those plans are.

    The usual caveat that I have to rely on other people being accurate – in this case you and your list of Putin’s speech – I think it is a mixed bag. Aiming to get a investment share of GDP to 40% by the end of next decade is very unrealistic. Even high-saving nations like South Korea get barely more than 30-32%. China does get over 40% but that is largely because of massive distortions and even the Chinese are admitting that it is excessive. Unless Russia wants to run gigantic current account deficits, it needs to match that investment rate by raising the savings rate to a similar level and that is also unrealistic.

    This is because investment-led growth has to be paired with export-led industrialisation. Russia’s exports as a share of GDP is quite low, and most of what it exports is natural resources. Furthermore, it doesn’t even need 40% investment of GDP. But I’m not going to go off in a giant detour of economic theory for the purposes of a comment.

    The state’s share in the economy should gradually decline

    This is another promise I find unrealistic. Not because it is unfeasible per se. More so because Putin’s instincts are decidedly statist. As AK has pointed out, the state now controls close to 70% of the economy. Putin has been in power for 18 years.

    The only way for this to happen is for him to break all past historical precedent and radically move in the other direction. Is it possible? Yes. But probable? No. If he had a strong desire to decrease the state’s involvement, we would have seen it by now and those who insist otherwise have the burden of proof on them, rather than to ask us to suspect disbelief and assume that a person’s established behaviour, at an advanced age and after 18 years of power, will suddenly change on a dime. It can happen, as can anything, but those insisting that it will have the proof of burden, not the other way around. In my humble opinion, of course. Also, the caveat that your translation/interpretation is correct naturally applies. Otherwise I may be too harsh on Putin through no fault of his own!

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    • Replies: @Kimppis
    Yeah, I noticed that. Just pointed out that out anyway, because he happened to mention it with the "50% growth" and also just as an example of a very realistic "prediction".

    I don't actually speak Russian either, I just Google translated the speech lol, and it seemed to turn out well. (However, my plan is to start studying both Russian and Mandarin this fall.)

    He was actually talking about bringing the investment "up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent". I made a mistake (not Google! :) ), it was supposed to read: "By the middle of the next decade, small and medium sized businesses contribution to the country’s GDP should approach 40 percent," IIRC. Apologies. 40% on investment would certainly be impossible. But the Russian government has been talking about 20-25% for a while now.

    Well, I don't deny that the speech was somewhat of a mixed bag, which I guess is inevitable, but I thought it was pretty good all things considered. Putin has apparently never been much of a speaker anyway and I much rather read (in my case) about some boring economic indicators than listen to Obama's "hope and change" mantras and other similar Western "end of history" BS. Not to mention the grandiose visions didn't work too well for the Soviets either, the Russians are done with that. And I just felt that the "50% growth in 6 years" part was kind of taken out of context a little bit.
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  35. @Kimppis
    I think some here sound a little too pessimistic. Did we read/listen to the same speech?

    Here's a summary of Putin's promises, some of them anyway:


    - In six years at least halve the level of poverty

    - Russia should not only firmly gain a foothold in the five largest economies of the world, but by the middle of the next decade to increase GDP per capita by half

    - By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently enter the club of the "80 plus" countries, where the life expectancy exceeds 80 years. This includes countries such as Japan, France, Germany.

    - In 2017, three million families in Russia improved their living conditions. Now we need to reach a stable level to the level when annually at least five million families improve their living conditions. We need to take a new height, strive to increase the volume of construction from today's 80 to 120 million square meters per year.

    - In total, in the next six years, it is necessary to almost double the cost of building and equipping the roads of Russia, to allocate for this purpose more than 11 trillion rubles from all sources. This is a lot, bearing in mind that in 2012-2017, we sent 6.4 trillion rubles for this purpose, also a large figure, but we need 11.

    - By 2024, we will provide almost universal fast Internet access.

    - In 2019-2024, the development of the health care system from all sources will require an annual average of more than 4 percent of GDP. But you need to strive, of course, to 5 percent. In absolute terms, this will mean that the total expenditure on health care should double.

    - Labor productivity in medium-sized and large enterprises of basic industries (such as industry, construction, transport, agriculture and trade) grow at a rate of not less than 5 percent per year

    - The second source of growth is an increase in investment. We already set the task to bring them up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent

    - By the middle of the next decade, its contribution to the country's GDP should approach 40 percent

    - We should practically double the volume of non-primary, non-energy exports to $ 250 billion

    - The state's share in the economy should gradually decline
     

    And one that is certainly quite questionable and hard to measure anyway:

    - As a result, the Russian research infrastructure will be one of the most powerful and effective in the world.
     
    He also admits things like:

    - In 2017, for example, the working-age population declined by almost a million. In the coming years, such a downward trend will continue, which may become a serious constraint on economic growth

    - I must say that there are some shortcomings, but in general, no matter how high the bars of these decrees were raised, if there were not, there would not be the results that we have today. Ambitious tasks must always be set
     

    Of course I'm not an expert, so I can't say how realistic all of those plans are. But atleast some of them sound realistic. We must forget that, among other things, Putin/Russia largely achieves the targets in 1. demographics, especially in life expectancy, 2. inflation (arguably actually consisderably overshooting it) and 3. the Ease of Business ranking. I don't think many people believed in any of those 5 or 10 years ago.

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he's clearly talking about PPP ("the five largest economies in the world"). So doesn't that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I'm not mistaken, it's pretty much inevitable at this point. Germany is about to lose its 5th place to Russia and the only countries that are going to be anywhere close are Indonesia and Brazil.

    When it comes to the per capita part, I don't know, I guess it's possible that he's talking about nominal GDP. But IMO, what is more likely, is that he's not actually talking about the next 6 years only, but about a longer period of time, like 2030, or even later. In my opinion, it's in any clear from the context that you shouldn't get too hung up on that "50% growth in 6 years LMAO" part.

    I don't think they're actually targeting an annual growth of 7%. That's totally ridiculous. Putin has been talking about the average global growth rate, which is around 3%, right? Now that IMO sounds like a proper target for Russia, a growth 3-4%. That's roughly the same as in many other EE countries like Poland atm.

    So overall, if that doesn't sound like a "modern Russia", then what does? Bershidsky keeps repeating those views every single time, he doesn't like Putin, nothing new. But he's a politician. That was a speech. What do some of you expect?

    Thanks for the comprehensive summary.

    The LE goal is doable, in my opion – High scenario from my 2008 projections:

    Russia has tracked it perfectly to date (72.7 years as of 2017). I expect it to hit 75 years by 2021, and 80 years by 2030 is ambitious but not entirely unrealistic, even if I expect it to fall a bit short.

    The economic goals sound nice, but of course the major question is where the money is going to come from. It doesn’t sound like Putin intends to do any downsizing of the forest of security ministries that have sprouted up, so I assume most of it will fall on the military – and indeed, this is what recent reports about the armaments program have indeed been trending towards. (In which case the Russia stronk segment of his speech makes much more sense, to entertain the hurrah-patriots with fluff).

    Despite my criticisms, I am reasonably optimistic about Russia’s growth prospects in the medium-term. 3-4% from 2020 is realistic IMO.

    About increasing GDP:

    Россия должна не только прочно закрепиться в пятерке крупнейших экономик мира, но к середине следующего десятилетия увеличить ВВП на душу населения в полтора раза

    –> needs to increase GDP per capita 1.5x by the middle of the next decade (so, okay, let’s consider that 2025). Patently unrealistic, of course.

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    • Replies: @Kimppis
    Yes, I remembered that from your recent demographics update.

    The official military budget has indeed began to decline, to a level that is slightly below 3% of GDP from this year onwards, or was it 2019? But it's unclear how big the hidden spending is.

    Yes, increasing it by 1.5x by around 2025 is certainly very unrealistic, but much less so by 2030-35.

    Many seem to argue that the CBR is being too conservative and that the growth will come as soon as the interest rates fall further. The rates are certainly still very high, that's for sure. There was also a severe slowdown during the second half of last year. Q2 growth was 2.5%, it was downhill from there.

    And I already asked this a while ago: but why is Kazakhstan still/already growing well? Does anyone know? Isn't actually much more oil dependent (in per capita) than Russia? (Of course, even Russia's oil dependency was always exaggerated.) So Russia should certainly achieve growth rates that are comparable to the Central Asians. Also, I think Goldman Sachs (lol) predicted that the Russian economy would grow by more than 3% already this year.

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  36. @neutral
    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.

    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.

    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.

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    • Replies: @Randal

    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.
     
    As has been pointed out before here, there's absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.

    Putin doesn't engage in debates because he doesn't need to, and he's not stupid. He's winning by miles, and only a very stupid politician agrees to debate his opponents in that situation, unless there is very strong pressure to do so.

    Why would a politician polling at 80% choose to engage in a debate with his rivals? It's all downside risk for him.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    In the recent Czech elections, Zeman also refused to debate before the first round, even though his lead was far narrower.

    Is Czechia an "Asiatic" country?
    , @Seamus Padraig
    As others have pointed out, with such a massive lead, Putin has nothing to gain and everything to lose by gratifying his opponents with a debate. Why not just let them all claw at each other instead? Even in the US, the front runners--Democrat and Republican--almost never allow third parties into the debate for basically the same reason.
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  37. @anonymous coward

    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.
     
    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.

    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.

    As has been pointed out before here, there’s absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.

    Putin doesn’t engage in debates because he doesn’t need to, and he’s not stupid. He’s winning by miles, and only a very stupid politician agrees to debate his opponents in that situation, unless there is very strong pressure to do so.

    Why would a politician polling at 80% choose to engage in a debate with his rivals? It’s all downside risk for him.

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    • Replies: @anonymous coward

    As has been pointed out before here, there’s absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.
     
    It's not a complicated explanation. Anybody who's ever lived in Russia knows this without a doubt naturally.

    If Putin had a low rating, that'd be all the more reason for him to not engage in debate.
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  38. @anonymous coward

    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.
     
    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.

    In the recent Czech elections, Zeman also refused to debate before the first round, even though his lead was far narrower.

    Is Czechia an “Asiatic” country?

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    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Orbán had debates with his main opponents in 1998, 2002, and 2006, but not since then.
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  39. @Anatoly Karlin
    In the recent Czech elections, Zeman also refused to debate before the first round, even though his lead was far narrower.

    Is Czechia an "Asiatic" country?

    Orbán had debates with his main opponents in 1998, 2002, and 2006, but not since then.

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  40. @Randal

    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.
     
    As has been pointed out before here, there's absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.

    Putin doesn't engage in debates because he doesn't need to, and he's not stupid. He's winning by miles, and only a very stupid politician agrees to debate his opponents in that situation, unless there is very strong pressure to do so.

    Why would a politician polling at 80% choose to engage in a debate with his rivals? It's all downside risk for him.

    As has been pointed out before here, there’s absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.

    It’s not a complicated explanation. Anybody who’s ever lived in Russia knows this without a doubt naturally.

    If Putin had a low rating, that’d be all the more reason for him to not engage in debate.

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    • Replies: @rmm
    Imagine Putin debating with the Sobchak girl...
    When I watch the US pres. election debates, for instance, I wonder what's the point of it all. All they do try to shout each other down, and I can't see hos the citizens are helped in their choice.
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  41. @A22
    Care to elaborate on why are you so blackpilled about the structure of the Russian economy ?
    I mean I am sure there are some serious structural problems otherwise we wouldn't have ended up in these years of stagnation. But what are these problems and how hard is it to fix them ? Why do you believe that the president of Russia does not have the ability to fix them ?

    Sure, I made a post about Russia’s structural problems a couple of months back:

    Numerous factors affect the economic growth. Russia’s working-age population recently started to decline – this will be a major drag on GDP till 2030. There is other stuff as well. Russia is plagued by low labor productivity. Soviet era industrial enterprises employ more people than they need, because the government tells them to, because that’s their way of maintaining social peace. You can’t just fire extra workers, because a lot of these industrial enterprises are located in isolated Soviet era monotowns”, where people have nothing else do. People won’t move. Russia’s labor mobility is low for the reasons that are economic, administrative and cultural.

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/sovkhoz-candidate/#comment-2132569

    That’s just a few examples. Fixing these issues will require painful reforms, that Putin will never attempt as they have a chance of destabilising his regime. And even if he attempts these reforms, growth is not guaranteed.

    The economy is a highly complex system, and growth is the product of the decisions, made by millions of independent economic agents. The government may attempt to incentivize them (by removing structural bottlenecks in the economy, improving business climate etc), but it has no sure way of knowing how agents in economy will respond to government’s incentives, it certainly has no control over their decision-making. To put it simply, the government is not responsible for economic growth. It’s up to the people themselves really: they gotta start new companies, invent new products and get rich. The government must give them freedom to do so. Apart from that, so long as the government is avoiding steps that are actively harmful such as price controls, there is not much else the dude in the Kremlin can do for economic growth.

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow. That’s plain naivety.

    Read More
    • Agree: AP
    • Replies: @inertial

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow.
     
    Americans must be Post-Soviet people then.
    , @Beckow
    I don't disagree with you all that much, but let's try a contrarian view:

    What you say is at its core the classic, liberal Western economics that is based on 'more of everything is better'. More workers, better, More flexibility, better. More 'new companies', better, etc... But is it?

    More 'flexible' workers also means a huge pressure on incomes - it is a basic supply-demand equation, more of something you have, less it is worth. When you look at history, the best times for ordinary people (90%+ of population) have always been during times of shortage of labor. People get better salaries, more opportunities, less stress, working conditions usually improve. That often happened after a war or with labor markets protected by closed borders (or a lack of 'flexibility' within a country). One good example is the dramatic improvement in living standards in Germany-Austria after WWII. There was hardly anything better than being a 20-year old survivor of WWII around 1950-55.

    Tight labor markets lead to higher incomes and that leads to higher consumption. Asset prices go up, opportunities are better. Maybe the overall 'GNP' is not as high at it would be with more of everything, but day-to-day lives for most people are better. Not necessarily for 'entrepreneurs', since they usually depend on a mindless expansion of everything. But societies should nor be run for the benefit of hustlers. They can always move to London or New York, if that is what they want.

    I think Russia is relatively well positioned, good economy largely depends on a ratio of resources to people. Russia has one of he best in the world. Some of it will always get stolen and wasted. But given the self-inflicted collapse that will come in the West - the combination of Third World over-population migration, huge debts, and just plain liberal post-modern stupidity - Russia looks like a pretty good bet. That's why there is the hysteria in the West.
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  42. @Felix Keverich
    Sure, I made a post about Russia's structural problems a couple of months back:

    Numerous factors affect the economic growth. Russia’s working-age population recently started to decline – this will be a major drag on GDP till 2030. There is other stuff as well. Russia is plagued by low labor productivity. Soviet era industrial enterprises employ more people than they need, because the government tells them to, because that’s their way of maintaining social peace. You can’t just fire extra workers, because a lot of these industrial enterprises are located in isolated Soviet era monotowns”, where people have nothing else do. People won’t move. Russia’s labor mobility is low for the reasons that are economic, administrative and cultural.
    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/sovkhoz-candidate/#comment-2132569

    That's just a few examples. Fixing these issues will require painful reforms, that Putin will never attempt as they have a chance of destabilising his regime. And even if he attempts these reforms, growth is not guaranteed.

    The economy is a highly complex system, and growth is the product of the decisions, made by millions of independent economic agents. The government may attempt to incentivize them (by removing structural bottlenecks in the economy, improving business climate etc), but it has no sure way of knowing how agents in economy will respond to government's incentives, it certainly has no control over their decision-making. To put it simply, the government is not responsible for economic growth. It's up to the people themselves really: they gotta start new companies, invent new products and get rich. The government must give them freedom to do so. Apart from that, so long as the government is avoiding steps that are actively harmful such as price controls, there is not much else the dude in the Kremlin can do for economic growth.

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow. That's plain naivety.

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow.

    Americans must be Post-Soviet people then.

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  43. Val says:

    First presidential election I can vote in, and no one I particularly want to vote for. A bummer :( So in the absense of any meaningful choice, the emotional dilemma is whether to vote for Putin to stick it to the west, or to vote for Grudinin to stick it to Putin (and the mainstream media).

    Read More
    • Replies: @iffen
    absense of any meaningful choice,

    Welcome to the world of liberal democracy where hope springs eternal.

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  44. @Felix Keverich
    Sure, I made a post about Russia's structural problems a couple of months back:

    Numerous factors affect the economic growth. Russia’s working-age population recently started to decline – this will be a major drag on GDP till 2030. There is other stuff as well. Russia is plagued by low labor productivity. Soviet era industrial enterprises employ more people than they need, because the government tells them to, because that’s their way of maintaining social peace. You can’t just fire extra workers, because a lot of these industrial enterprises are located in isolated Soviet era monotowns”, where people have nothing else do. People won’t move. Russia’s labor mobility is low for the reasons that are economic, administrative and cultural.
    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/sovkhoz-candidate/#comment-2132569

    That's just a few examples. Fixing these issues will require painful reforms, that Putin will never attempt as they have a chance of destabilising his regime. And even if he attempts these reforms, growth is not guaranteed.

    The economy is a highly complex system, and growth is the product of the decisions, made by millions of independent economic agents. The government may attempt to incentivize them (by removing structural bottlenecks in the economy, improving business climate etc), but it has no sure way of knowing how agents in economy will respond to government's incentives, it certainly has no control over their decision-making. To put it simply, the government is not responsible for economic growth. It's up to the people themselves really: they gotta start new companies, invent new products and get rich. The government must give them freedom to do so. Apart from that, so long as the government is avoiding steps that are actively harmful such as price controls, there is not much else the dude in the Kremlin can do for economic growth.

    Post-Soviet people have this idea, that if they could just get the right leader, they could sit back and watch as their wages grow. That's plain naivety.

    I don’t disagree with you all that much, but let’s try a contrarian view:

    What you say is at its core the classic, liberal Western economics that is based on ‘more of everything is better‘. More workers, better, More flexibility, better. More ‘new companies’, better, etc… But is it?

    More ‘flexible’ workers also means a huge pressure on incomes – it is a basic supply-demand equation, more of something you have, less it is worth. When you look at history, the best times for ordinary people (90%+ of population) have always been during times of shortage of labor. People get better salaries, more opportunities, less stress, working conditions usually improve. That often happened after a war or with labor markets protected by closed borders (or a lack of ‘flexibility’ within a country). One good example is the dramatic improvement in living standards in Germany-Austria after WWII. There was hardly anything better than being a 20-year old survivor of WWII around 1950-55.

    Tight labor markets lead to higher incomes and that leads to higher consumption. Asset prices go up, opportunities are better. Maybe the overall ‘GNP’ is not as high at it would be with more of everything, but day-to-day lives for most people are better. Not necessarily for ‘entrepreneurs’, since they usually depend on a mindless expansion of everything. But societies should nor be run for the benefit of hustlers. They can always move to London or New York, if that is what they want.

    I think Russia is relatively well positioned, good economy largely depends on a ratio of resources to people. Russia has one of he best in the world. Some of it will always get stolen and wasted. But given the self-inflicted collapse that will come in the West – the combination of Third World over-population migration, huge debts, and just plain liberal post-modern stupidity – Russia looks like a pretty good bet. That’s why there is the hysteria in the West.

    Read More
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  45. @Polish Perspective

    When it comes to GDP, it seems that he’s clearly talking about PPP (“the five largest economies in the world”). So doesn’t that top 5 spot sound achievable? If I’m not mistaken, it’s pretty much inevitable at this point.
     
    Oh, I agree with that. But if you paid close attention to my comment, you'd noticed that I was not talking about the feasibility of Russia being a top 5 economy in PPP terms in the near future ;-)

    I was talking about this:


    increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth
     
    I am not a fluent Russian speaker, though perhaps you are, so I am reliant on others relaying the speech to me. I take AK's word at face-value and so when he writes that, I assume it is correct. You may disagree with AK's relay of Putin's speech, but that is a bone of contention you'll have with him, not with those who rely on the translation ;-)

    I can’t say how realistic all of those plans are.
     
    The usual caveat that I have to rely on other people being accurate - in this case you and your list of Putin's speech - I think it is a mixed bag. Aiming to get a investment share of GDP to 40% by the end of next decade is very unrealistic. Even high-saving nations like South Korea get barely more than 30-32%. China does get over 40% but that is largely because of massive distortions and even the Chinese are admitting that it is excessive. Unless Russia wants to run gigantic current account deficits, it needs to match that investment rate by raising the savings rate to a similar level and that is also unrealistic.

    This is because investment-led growth has to be paired with export-led industrialisation. Russia's exports as a share of GDP is quite low, and most of what it exports is natural resources. Furthermore, it doesn't even need 40% investment of GDP. But I'm not going to go off in a giant detour of economic theory for the purposes of a comment.

    The state’s share in the economy should gradually decline
     
    This is another promise I find unrealistic. Not because it is unfeasible per se. More so because Putin's instincts are decidedly statist. As AK has pointed out, the state now controls close to 70% of the economy. Putin has been in power for 18 years.

    The only way for this to happen is for him to break all past historical precedent and radically move in the other direction. Is it possible? Yes. But probable? No. If he had a strong desire to decrease the state's involvement, we would have seen it by now and those who insist otherwise have the burden of proof on them, rather than to ask us to suspect disbelief and assume that a person's established behaviour, at an advanced age and after 18 years of power, will suddenly change on a dime. It can happen, as can anything, but those insisting that it will have the proof of burden, not the other way around. In my humble opinion, of course. Also, the caveat that your translation/interpretation is correct naturally applies. Otherwise I may be too harsh on Putin through no fault of his own!

    Yeah, I noticed that. Just pointed out that out anyway, because he happened to mention it with the “50% growth” and also just as an example of a very realistic “prediction”.

    I don’t actually speak Russian either, I just Google translated the speech lol, and it seemed to turn out well. (However, my plan is to start studying both Russian and Mandarin this fall.)

    He was actually talking about bringing the investment “up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent”. I made a mistake (not Google! :) ), it was supposed to read: “By the middle of the next decade, small and medium sized businesses contribution to the country’s GDP should approach 40 percent,” IIRC. Apologies. 40% on investment would certainly be impossible. But the Russian government has been talking about 20-25% for a while now.

    Well, I don’t deny that the speech was somewhat of a mixed bag, which I guess is inevitable, but I thought it was pretty good all things considered. Putin has apparently never been much of a speaker anyway and I much rather read (in my case) about some boring economic indicators than listen to Obama’s “hope and change” mantras and other similar Western “end of history” BS. Not to mention the grandiose visions didn’t work too well for the Soviets either, the Russians are done with that. And I just felt that the “50% growth in 6 years” part was kind of taken out of context a little bit.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Shalcker
    Why Google Translate when Kremlin does translations right there on official site?

    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/56957

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  46. @Anatoly Karlin
    Thanks for the comprehensive summary.

    The LE goal is doable, in my opion - High scenario from my 2008 projections:

    https://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/scen36.jpg

    Russia has tracked it perfectly to date (72.7 years as of 2017). I expect it to hit 75 years by 2021, and 80 years by 2030 is ambitious but not entirely unrealistic, even if I expect it to fall a bit short.

    The economic goals sound nice, but of course the major question is where the money is going to come from. It doesn't sound like Putin intends to do any downsizing of the forest of security ministries that have sprouted up, so I assume most of it will fall on the military - and indeed, this is what recent reports about the armaments program have indeed been trending towards. (In which case the Russia stronk segment of his speech makes much more sense, to entertain the hurrah-patriots with fluff).

    Despite my criticisms, I am reasonably optimistic about Russia's growth prospects in the medium-term. 3-4% from 2020 is realistic IMO.

    About increasing GDP:

    Россия должна не только прочно закрепиться в пятерке крупнейших экономик мира, но к середине следующего десятилетия увеличить ВВП на душу населения в полтора раза
     
    --> needs to increase GDP per capita 1.5x by the middle of the next decade (so, okay, let's consider that 2025). Patently unrealistic, of course.

    Yes, I remembered that from your recent demographics update.

    The official military budget has indeed began to decline, to a level that is slightly below 3% of GDP from this year onwards, or was it 2019? But it’s unclear how big the hidden spending is.

    Yes, increasing it by 1.5x by around 2025 is certainly very unrealistic, but much less so by 2030-35.

    Many seem to argue that the CBR is being too conservative and that the growth will come as soon as the interest rates fall further. The rates are certainly still very high, that’s for sure. There was also a severe slowdown during the second half of last year. Q2 growth was 2.5%, it was downhill from there.

    And I already asked this a while ago: but why is Kazakhstan still/already growing well? Does anyone know? Isn’t actually much more oil dependent (in per capita) than Russia? (Of course, even Russia’s oil dependency was always exaggerated.) So Russia should certainly achieve growth rates that are comparable to the Central Asians. Also, I think Goldman Sachs (lol) predicted that the Russian economy would grow by more than 3% already this year.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    And I already asked this a while ago: but why is Kazakhstan still/already growing well? Does anyone know?
     
    For Kazakhstan, you have to adjust for the fact that their population growth is very rapid.

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

    Therefore, their per capita growth rate will be less impressive once adjusted for this fact. Their population is also younger, and hence there is more propensity to consume a wider variety of goods, which will help internal consumption. As I pointed out before, real household income is still flat in Russia on a YoY basis. Consumption is not, but that is now growing thanks to people taking out consumer loans.
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  47. @Kimppis
    Yeah, I noticed that. Just pointed out that out anyway, because he happened to mention it with the "50% growth" and also just as an example of a very realistic "prediction".

    I don't actually speak Russian either, I just Google translated the speech lol, and it seemed to turn out well. (However, my plan is to start studying both Russian and Mandarin this fall.)

    He was actually talking about bringing the investment "up to 25 percent of GDP, and then to 27 percent". I made a mistake (not Google! :) ), it was supposed to read: "By the middle of the next decade, small and medium sized businesses contribution to the country’s GDP should approach 40 percent," IIRC. Apologies. 40% on investment would certainly be impossible. But the Russian government has been talking about 20-25% for a while now.

    Well, I don't deny that the speech was somewhat of a mixed bag, which I guess is inevitable, but I thought it was pretty good all things considered. Putin has apparently never been much of a speaker anyway and I much rather read (in my case) about some boring economic indicators than listen to Obama's "hope and change" mantras and other similar Western "end of history" BS. Not to mention the grandiose visions didn't work too well for the Soviets either, the Russians are done with that. And I just felt that the "50% growth in 6 years" part was kind of taken out of context a little bit.

    Why Google Translate when Kremlin does translations right there on official site?

    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/56957

    Read More
    • LOL: Kimppis
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  48. Btw, Bryan MacDonald’s analysis is excellent, IMO:

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/420325-putin-missiles-nuclear-russia/

    Predictably, Western media reacted hysterically to Putin’s boasts about Russia’s improved missile capability, while the domestic audience focused on the real meat: the Kremlin is about to embark upon a massive renewal project which will kickstart its economy and hopefully increase the quality of life across the vast country.

    Putin realizes there is no short-term hope of detente with the Americans. Thus, he feels the best strategy is to spook them into leaving Russia alone and ceasing the eastward expansion of their NATO military alliance, which will allow Moscow to concentrate on domestic challenges.

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  49. @Beckow
    What is more likely in 2024, Russia's economy 50% larger than today, or Russia's economy smaller than today?

    We have Putin stating that he plans to grow it by 50%, and we have most Western politicians and media stating that Russia's is in a terminal economic decline, even collapse. I think Putin is closer to the truth. If he manages only 20-30% in 6 years (3-4% a year), would that be a failure? Politicians are aspirational, that's why people elect them.

    Sound point, sir.

    Moreover, it’s embarrassing to hear Americans talking about how RUSSIA is unrealistic and not set for sustained economic growth.

    It is the USA which is drowning in government debt, unfunded government pension obligations, and household debt. Russia is not.

    So far as we can make an educated guess, the USA is likelier to collapse into widespread poverty, chaos, and violence, than Russia in the medium term.

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  50. @Polish Perspective

    First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth – as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year). Nobody really cares about this.
     
    Depressing, if true. I suppose there is political risk for anyone willing to call him out on his BS for being a 'debbie downer', but fundamentally a sign of an advanced nation is a leadership cadre which is realistic with their ambitions (at least the short-term ones, where there is some visibility to potential outcomes).

    The fact that Putin can just put out bizarre statements like that is only compounded by the fact that he feels he needs to, that the electorate won't settle for being told the truth (real GDP growth of ~2% is likely and our climb to high income will take decades). Then again if nobody cares about it, then why is it even said? Putin, or his advisors, obviously feel there is some merit in doing so, otherwise the statement wouldn't have been said. Maybe I am overthinking it, but it just seems like a bad sign when you have a leader making patently unrealistic goals.

    In the second half, wearing his purple tie of esoteric power, Putin entered hardcore Dr. Strangelove territory, revealing a range of awesome nuclear weaponry with the mediocre CGI demonstrations
     
    Frankly, it came off as a bit desperate. A bit "look at us!". I think Brian Wang of NBF basically put it best, when he headlined one of his articles:

    Russian propaganda whines we have lots of nukes but you obsess about Elon Musk SpaceX and not us
     
    Russian military technology continues to be impressive, but Leonid Bershisky is right when he says that Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.

    He's also right when he says that Putin should focus more on raising productivity and incomes and not just big guns. But it's the latter that excite his base.

    And since nobody is willing to question him on his BS "50% GDP growth in 5 years", or even cares - which frankly is even worse in some sense - there doesn't seem to be much reason for him to change.

    Depressing.

    Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.

    Fast follower is viable strategy. It is very difficult to innovate and create.
    A country like Russia that has a lot of catching up to do, using fast follower strategy is the smart “economic” method.

    Fast Following means targeting desired industry with State Credit. It also means importing knowledge workers, for example professors and experts from the West.

    First mover advantage is overblown. For example, Google is not a big player in China due to “fast follower strategy” of using Baidu.

    The U.S. no longer benefits anyway from first mover. As soon as something is invented in the U.S., it tends to find itself manufactured in overseas industry.

    The U.S. middle class no longer grinds out incremental innovation in the trenches of industry, since industry was outsourced.

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    • Replies: @Polish Perspective

    The U.S. no longer benefits anyway from first mover.
     
    That seems a bit premature to claim. Baidu is dominating in China more because of protectionism than fast-follower. If China had allowed Google to compete on equal grounds from early on, there's not much reason to think that they wouldn't either A) dominate or B) at least have a plurality of the market share.

    That said, I do agree that being a fast-follower is certainly a lot more viable than it used to be but there is still a strong premium on innovation. People attack a company like Samsung but in many areas (semiconductors, DRAM etc) they are in fact at the cutting edge today.
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  51. @Kimppis
    Yes, I remembered that from your recent demographics update.

    The official military budget has indeed began to decline, to a level that is slightly below 3% of GDP from this year onwards, or was it 2019? But it's unclear how big the hidden spending is.

    Yes, increasing it by 1.5x by around 2025 is certainly very unrealistic, but much less so by 2030-35.

    Many seem to argue that the CBR is being too conservative and that the growth will come as soon as the interest rates fall further. The rates are certainly still very high, that's for sure. There was also a severe slowdown during the second half of last year. Q2 growth was 2.5%, it was downhill from there.

    And I already asked this a while ago: but why is Kazakhstan still/already growing well? Does anyone know? Isn't actually much more oil dependent (in per capita) than Russia? (Of course, even Russia's oil dependency was always exaggerated.) So Russia should certainly achieve growth rates that are comparable to the Central Asians. Also, I think Goldman Sachs (lol) predicted that the Russian economy would grow by more than 3% already this year.

    And I already asked this a while ago: but why is Kazakhstan still/already growing well? Does anyone know?

    For Kazakhstan, you have to adjust for the fact that their population growth is very rapid.

    Therefore, their per capita growth rate will be less impressive once adjusted for this fact. Their population is also younger, and hence there is more propensity to consume a wider variety of goods, which will help internal consumption. As I pointed out before, real household income is still flat in Russia on a YoY basis. Consumption is not, but that is now growing thanks to people taking out consumer loans.

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  52. @MEFOBILLS

    Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.
     
    Fast follower is viable strategy. It is very difficult to innovate and create.
    A country like Russia that has a lot of catching up to do, using fast follower strategy is the smart "economic" method.

    Fast Following means targeting desired industry with State Credit. It also means importing knowledge workers, for example professors and experts from the West.

    First mover advantage is overblown. For example, Google is not a big player in China due to "fast follower strategy" of using Baidu.

    The U.S. no longer benefits anyway from first mover. As soon as something is invented in the U.S., it tends to find itself manufactured in overseas industry.

    The U.S. middle class no longer grinds out incremental innovation in the trenches of industry, since industry was outsourced.

    The U.S. no longer benefits anyway from first mover.

    That seems a bit premature to claim. Baidu is dominating in China more because of protectionism than fast-follower. If China had allowed Google to compete on equal grounds from early on, there’s not much reason to think that they wouldn’t either A) dominate or B) at least have a plurality of the market share.

    That said, I do agree that being a fast-follower is certainly a lot more viable than it used to be but there is still a strong premium on innovation. People attack a company like Samsung but in many areas (semiconductors, DRAM etc) they are in fact at the cutting edge today.

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  53. @Val
    First presidential election I can vote in, and no one I particularly want to vote for. A bummer :( So in the absense of any meaningful choice, the emotional dilemma is whether to vote for Putin to stick it to the west, or to vote for Grudinin to stick it to Putin (and the mainstream media).

    absense of any meaningful choice,

    Welcome to the world of liberal democracy where hope springs eternal.

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    • Agree: Daniel Chieh
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  54. @anonymous coward

    I have to ask why Putin is not in those debates, even if his party has a high odds of winning, not taking part in such debates on seems to portray that peoples votes are taken for granted, which can long term become a problem.
     
    Russia is an Asiatic country in that it has lots of sacralized formal and informal rituals surrounding political power.

    Debating is simply not something that a Russian Autocrat (c) can ever do without losing face.

    As others have pointed out, with such a massive lead, Putin has nothing to gain and everything to lose by gratifying his opponents with a debate. Why not just let them all claw at each other instead? Even in the US, the front runners–Democrat and Republican–almost never allow third parties into the debate for basically the same reason.

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  55. @Polish Perspective

    First half consisted of boring economic and political stuff (e.g. increasing GDP by 50% over the next 6 years, implying 7% growth – as realistic as his promise to create 25 million hi-tech jobs last year). Nobody really cares about this.
     
    Depressing, if true. I suppose there is political risk for anyone willing to call him out on his BS for being a 'debbie downer', but fundamentally a sign of an advanced nation is a leadership cadre which is realistic with their ambitions (at least the short-term ones, where there is some visibility to potential outcomes).

    The fact that Putin can just put out bizarre statements like that is only compounded by the fact that he feels he needs to, that the electorate won't settle for being told the truth (real GDP growth of ~2% is likely and our climb to high income will take decades). Then again if nobody cares about it, then why is it even said? Putin, or his advisors, obviously feel there is some merit in doing so, otherwise the statement wouldn't have been said. Maybe I am overthinking it, but it just seems like a bad sign when you have a leader making patently unrealistic goals.

    In the second half, wearing his purple tie of esoteric power, Putin entered hardcore Dr. Strangelove territory, revealing a range of awesome nuclear weaponry with the mediocre CGI demonstrations
     
    Frankly, it came off as a bit desperate. A bit "look at us!". I think Brian Wang of NBF basically put it best, when he headlined one of his articles:

    Russian propaganda whines we have lots of nukes but you obsess about Elon Musk SpaceX and not us
     
    Russian military technology continues to be impressive, but Leonid Bershisky is right when he says that Russia is falling behind in the broader technology race.

    He's also right when he says that Putin should focus more on raising productivity and incomes and not just big guns. But it's the latter that excite his base.

    And since nobody is willing to question him on his BS "50% GDP growth in 5 years", or even cares - which frankly is even worse in some sense - there doesn't seem to be much reason for him to change.

    Depressing.

    The main problem with Putin is that he’s an economic liberal. And with economic liberalism, this is as good as it gets: drag-ass annual GDP growth in the 2-3% range, with all of the profit going to the oligarchs on top. Meanwhile, wages stagnate, while assets prices and the cost of living keep increasing. It’s no different in the West now either.

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they’re going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning. For openers, they need to ditch Rothschild-financing and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. Then, the government needs to start looking after sectors other than just defense/aerospace and petro-chemical. But Putin will never do that. So I, for one, am not surprised that a growing number of Russian voters are taking a fresh look at the Communists. Hey: it worked for China!

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    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they’re going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning.
     
    Not realistic, because: Russians are white Europeans. With all strengths & weaknesses of that race/culture/identity/genetic-cultural makeup/ whatever....
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  56. @anonymous coward

    As has been pointed out before here, there’s absolutely no need to go looking for complicated explanations rooted in esoteric cultural features.
     
    It's not a complicated explanation. Anybody who's ever lived in Russia knows this without a doubt naturally.

    If Putin had a low rating, that'd be all the more reason for him to not engage in debate.

    Imagine Putin debating with the Sobchak girl…
    When I watch the US pres. election debates, for instance, I wonder what’s the point of it all. All they do try to shout each other down, and I can’t see hos the citizens are helped in their choice.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Art Deco
    When I watch the US pres. election debates, for instance, I wonder what’s the point of it all. All they do try to shout each other down, and I can’t see hos the citizens are helped in their choice.

    You haven't watched any. They don't do that. The object varies according to the population on the stage. It can be to distinguish yourself, to avoid embarrassment, or to embarrass your opponent. It's all about the sound bites you generate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAUcyfKESts

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkdpzRDxTXU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5JAlpvvbiM
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  57. @Seamus Padraig
    The main problem with Putin is that he's an economic liberal. And with economic liberalism, this is as good as it gets: drag-ass annual GDP growth in the 2-3% range, with all of the profit going to the oligarchs on top. Meanwhile, wages stagnate, while assets prices and the cost of living keep increasing. It's no different in the West now either.

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they're going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning. For openers, they need to ditch Rothschild-financing and nationalize the Russian Central Bank. Then, the government needs to start looking after sectors other than just defense/aerospace and petro-chemical. But Putin will never do that. So I, for one, am not surprised that a growing number of Russian voters are taking a fresh look at the Communists. Hey: it worked for China!

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they’re going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning.

    Not realistic, because: Russians are white Europeans. With all strengths & weaknesses of that race/culture/identity/genetic-cultural makeup/ whatever….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Seamus Padraig
    Well, the Germans were pretty white, too. But Hitler still managed to completely eliminate unemployment in under two years with his economic plan. It can be done ...
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  58. @Bardon Kaldian

    If Russians want Chinese-style economic growth, then they’re going to have to embrace Chinese-style economic/industrial planning.
     
    Not realistic, because: Russians are white Europeans. With all strengths & weaknesses of that race/culture/identity/genetic-cultural makeup/ whatever....

    Well, the Germans were pretty white, too. But Hitler still managed to completely eliminate unemployment in under two years with his economic plan. It can be done …

    Read More
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  59. @rmm
    Imagine Putin debating with the Sobchak girl...
    When I watch the US pres. election debates, for instance, I wonder what's the point of it all. All they do try to shout each other down, and I can't see hos the citizens are helped in their choice.

    When I watch the US pres. election debates, for instance, I wonder what’s the point of it all. All they do try to shout each other down, and I can’t see hos the citizens are helped in their choice.

    You haven’t watched any. They don’t do that. The object varies according to the population on the stage. It can be to distinguish yourself, to avoid embarrassment, or to embarrass your opponent. It’s all about the sound bites you generate.

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

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