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On March 29, the High Court in London has decided that the sanctity of Eurobond debt trumps Ukraine's special pleading to treat the Russian $3 billion loan to the late Yanukovych regime as odious debt and wave it away on account of Russia's supposed "aggression" against it. This is not the final judgment, which is... Read More
More info against the Department of Russia Only Produces Oil and Vodka: Here are some graphs of Russian aerospace manufacturing courtesy of the Reality vs. Myths blog. (2013 figures are projections). Total helicopter construction has now basically converged with the levels of the late RSFSR. Aircraft construction is only halfway there, but its state is... Read More
See data. For real, this time. While it is perhaps a big strange to start thinking of Russia as a high-income economy, it's not so surprising when looking at concrete statistics such as vehicle consumption, Internet penetration, etc. - all of which are now at typical South European and advanced East-Central European levels (even if... Read More
My latest for VoR/US-Russia Experts panel. Hope you like the title. :) The political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was one of the major contributing factors to the "hyper-depression" that afflicted not only Russia but all the other constituent republics in the 1990's. The Soviet economy had been an integrated whole; an aircraft might have... Read More
It is now a staple of "common wisdom" to such an extent that there is little point in digging up specific news items. Bound up in red tape and crushed by the weight of state regulations, the argument goes, the Russian economy is doomed to years of renewed Brezhnevite stagnation - with the government increasing... Read More
According to several experts, Russia may be facing a period of protracted low growth rates now that its GDP per capita has recently exceeded $16,000. Vedomosti's Olga Kuvshinova has the details. A variety of reasons are brought up to explain the Russian economy's slowdown to 1.6% growth in the first quarter by experts and officials:... Read More
The latest US-Russia.org Experts Panel discussion was about Russia's burgeoning partnership with China. I especially recommend Mercouris' contribution which - although unfortunately titled by VoR's editorial staff)) - is otherwise quite brilliant. My own effort follows below: First of all, let me preface that I’m one of the biggest China bulls around. Its economy in... Read More
One of the most reliable indicators of influence is access to cars. They are the standard symbol of affluence and middle-class status the world over. They are also far more understandable at the everyday level than things like the PPP GDP per capita, or the number of burgers your national McWage will buy. Following on... Read More
One common trope about the Russian economy is that it has virtually no manufacturing to speak of and lives off "oil rents" that can collapse any day. Whiles there is a small nugget of truth to this assertion, but by and large it is simply false. It is true that a great chunk of Russian... Read More
If you ever manage to get a troupe as diverse as Latynina, Mark Adomanis, the Cypriot Communist Party, virtually every financial analyst, Prokhorov, and Putin united in condemning your crass stupidity and cack-handedness, it's probably time to stop and ponder. But it's safe to say that's not what the Troika - the European Commission, European... Read More
Okay, I promise this will be the last post on the matter. But some of the tropes that come up time and time again in coverage of Chavez's legacy, from neocons and faux-leftists alike, just have to be addressed for me to rest easy. Note that this is NOT meant to be comprehensive; just some... Read More
As I write the book, I create a lot of graphs. Here is one of them. So in manufacturing terms, as far as cars are concerned, the "deindustrialization" era is decidedly over. Of course it's also important to note that in 1985 they were producing this whereas today they are producing this as well as... Read More
By the usual standards of Guardian reporting on Russia, this one by GQ Russia editor Andrew Ryvkin is... well, about par for the course. Citing a recent PwC report that Russia will overtake Germany to become Europe's biggest economy in 2030, he asks, "Should we believe them?" Well, the PwC is just repeating predictions made... Read More
I just remembered I'd made some in 2012. It's time to see how they went, plus make predictions for the coming year. Of course I failed to predict the biggest thing of them all: The hacking that made me throw in the towel on Sublime Oblivion (remember that?), but with the silver lining that I... Read More
This guy isn't as clear-headed as Eric Kraus, is he? But does have company in the form of Andrew Miller, Jeffrey Tailer, "Streetwise Professor", and Ed Lucas. H/t Mark Adomanis. ----- Original Message ----- From: Dmitry Alimov To: dalimov@mba2004.hbs.edu Sent: Friday, September 12, 2003 11:28 PM Subject: Conversation with Jim Rogers - HILARIOUS Jim Rogers,... Read More
Editorial note: This article was first published at Arctic Progress in February 2011. In the next few weeks I will be reposting the best material from there. The Arctic to become a pole of global economic growth? Image credit – Scenic Reflections. - Northward ho!: An account of the far North and its people. In... Read More
Just to hammer down the myth of Russian impoverishment one more time (with the help of graphs from Sergey Zhuravlev's blog)... In the past few years, in terms of basic necessities (food, clothing, housing) Russia has basically (re)converged to where the Soviet Union left off. Here is a graph of food consumption via Zhuravlev. At... Read More
The map below shows the shifting location of the world's economic center of gravity. It was compiled by McKinsey and reproduced by The Economist. All is broadly as one might expect. In pre-industrial times, the world's economic center of gravity was always basically triangulated between India, China, and the Roman Empire (later North-West Europe). By... Read More
From their latest Editorial / anti-Putin rant, via Mercouris. It is not with the ideological rhetoric that I have an issue with; it's The Guardian, after all. Nor am I especially interested in defending Pussy Riot's prosecution (my own views on the matter jive with Kononenko's). I do however have an issue with the The... Read More
Contrary to what some might try to take from my post on the longterm failure of the Soviet economy, I am not an anti-Soviet ideologue. I loathe lies about its achievements and the blanket condemnations directed its way by moralistic poseurs every bit as much or more than I detest reality-challenged attempts to paint it... Read More
Many Communists, leftists, and even patriots (I'm sorry to say) have a pronounced tendency to make out the Soviet economy as not quite the resounding failure it really was - or even to paint it as a success story that was only brought down by perestroika and liberal reforms. The above chart - based on... Read More
Via The Economist, I've come across some fascinating research by Orley Ashenfelter and Stepan Jurajda (Comparing Real Wage Rates, 2012) showing how real wages can be meaningfully compared across different regions by taking notes on prices and wages in McDonald's restaurants. The methodology seems solid. Big Macs are a very standardized product, hence they are... Read More
Despite the generally loathsome nature of The Economist, it does have its advantages most of which can be reduced to its Daily Charts blog which focuses on statistics as opposed to rhetoric. According to the chart above, as of 2012 ever more people, especially in the developed world, are starting to believe that the China... Read More
Despite the unremitting hostility of its Russian neighbor, which crescendoed in a military occupation of a chunk of its territories, plucky Georgia's commitment to reform and democratic values will ensure its rapid development into a "booming Western-style economy." Under its charismatic Western-trained President, Saakashvili, it has rooted out corruption, ushered in untold prosperity and freedoms,... Read More
There is a certain Russian expression: "Москва — не Россия" (i.e. Moscow, isn't Russia), to denote the idea that while the capital may be rich, at least by Russian standards, the rest of the country languishes in grinding poverty. This is a trope is frequently taken up by the Western media, which at times presents... Read More
Just in case you thought the correlation between human capital and economic development was an artifice of the post-socialist world, here is a similar graph (R2=0.4273) for all the world's countries that have participated in the Math and Science portions of the PISA or TIMMS (8th grade) international standardized student assessments. The methodology is the... Read More
In terms of new cars, they now are. According to 2011 statistics, Russians bought 17.6 new automobiles per 1000 people. This indicator is still quite a bit below most of Western Europe, such as Germany's 38.5, France's 33.4, Britain's 31.9, Italy's 30.1, and Spain's 20.0. However, it has already overtaken most of East-Central Europe, whose... Read More
As readers of this blog know, I have long regarded the return of economic crisis as an inevitability (because the core energy and no-growth predicament facing the Western world wasn't solved in 2008-9 but merely kicked further down the road by increasing debt and printing money). It looks like 2012 will be the crunch year,... Read More
As repeatedly noted by Mark Adomanis, the Russian liberals and the Western media have predicted about 10 of the last zero Russian revolutions. Likewise, the "Jasmine Revolution" in China that was the subject of so much talk about a year ago has fizzled out like a wet firework. Meanwhile, the Arab world remains in the... Read More
After peaking in 2007 at the height of its oil boom, the Russian economy slid off the rails, with GDP collapsing by 25% from peak to trough. Attempts to stem the decline by arresting pessimistic economists failed. Its image as a tiger economy, heavily promoted by Kremlin ideologues, was revealed to be a sham. Though... Read More
As with the previous such post, this thread will primarily serve as a meeting ground where S/O readers can discuss the impending US fiscal crisis. As usual, I try to provide some context and avenues for discussion: 1. On August 2nd, give or take a few days, the US Treasury will run out of money.... Read More
The response to the last global crisis only consisted of kicking the can further down the road, and the chickens are showing signs of coming home to roost. Of particular note: (1) the recent upwards spike on bond yields for Italy and Spain*; (2) The political paralysis in the US that may (conceivably, if unlikely)... Read More
Иn the wake of the 2009 recession, declinist rhetoric has come to dominate discussion of Russia's economic prospects. Jim O'Neill, the founder of the BRIC's concept, has his work cut out defending Russia's expulsion from the group in favor of Indonesia, Mexico, or some other random middle-sized country. Journalists in the Western media claim its... Read More
Not really arguing anything in this post, just sharing some interesting stats I found about the affluent class in Russia (as compared with BRIC's and others). First, as we know Russia is (in)famous for the opulence of it oligarchy. But according to the research firm Wealth-X, despite a relatively high number of billionaires, its overall... Read More
Following the failure of Khodorkovsky's appeal against his prison sentence for theft and money laundering, state-owned NTV aired a positive segment on his case on national prime time. Most sides of the story were mentioned: Amnesty International's designation of him as a "prisoner of conscience", the Kremlin's view that it was only the criminal justice... Read More
In the first part of my series comparing Russia, Britain and the US, I am going to look at their levels of social freedoms. While political scientists go on about to what extent a country has "democracy" or "rule of law", this ignores that these arcane concepts have practically zero relevance to the everyday lives... Read More
A thundering takedown of the Financial Times transparently one-sided coverage of the Khodorkovsky affair -and Khodorkovsky says Putin is ‘pitiable’ can also serve as a palimpsest for Western media coverage of this topic in general - from Eric Kraus at Truth and Beauty. BTW, do feel free to add his blog Truth and Beauty to... Read More
My views on Khodorkovsky - and by extension his being found guilty of $25bn embezzlement - aren't exactly a secret (1, 2, 3) so I'll keep this brief. 1. As usual, the only people who care about this are Western politicians eager to score cheap shots against Russia's "assault" on transparency and rule of law... Read More
Over at his Foreign Policy Russia blog, and (provocatively?) a few days before Russia's Unity Day, Vadim Nikitin penned the post Khodorkovsky = Kurils in which he argued for their mutual liberation from the Russian state. Whereas in their time both the conquest of the Kurils and the destruction of robber oligarch Khodorkovsky had been... Read More
As you may have noticed, posting has slowed down in the past few days, mostly thanks to a combination of (1) Kindle, (2) 中文 and (3) the natural periods of apathy that afflict most non-pro bloggers. I don't really see that changing until the end of the year... 1. Sayonara, Luzhkov. Props to Jesse Heath... Read More
This is a reprint of my article for the Sep/Oct 2010 issue of Russian Life magazine. It is a condensed version of Rosstat and Levada are Russophobia’s Bane. Enjoy! There is a Catechism that dominates American discourse on Russia today. Just flip through The Washington Post’s editorials, peruse American political science journals or listen (cringe)... Read More
The Russian magazine Esquire came up with some pretty shocking figures: It would be cheaper to pave one 48km road for the Sochi Olympics with elite beluga caviar than asphalt. The total cost would come in at a cool 227 billion rubles, or $160 million per kilometer - five times higher than what it costs... Read More
Though it's not quite true that Russia has "no roads, only directions", the old saying isn't far off the mark. The World Bank's recent report on Russia's economy notes that the Eurasian giant's road network is primitive and crumbling, coming in 111th in a global ranking (the railway system does much better at 33rd); more... Read More
There is a wide divergence of views on Russia's economic future. The pessimists project near zero growth (e.g. SWP, Guriev & Zhuravskaya), or even a renewed collapse if Europe goes haywire. The inventor of the BRIC's concept (and Russia bull) Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs believes it will manage to eke out growth of 7%,... Read More
Still no economic collapse. Still no anti-Putin bunt. Still no demographic apocalypse. As the years pass by, Russophobe canard after Russophobe trope is relegated to the dust-heap of history, only to rise back out of its grave, zombie-like, whenever Boris Nemtsov pens a brilliant indictment hysterical screed on the failures of Putinism or when the... Read More
During the past two years, Russian "dissident" liberals Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov have produced a frankly maniacal quantity of so-called "Independent Expert Reports" (there are now seven of them) that purport to debunk the "persistent myths imposed by official [Kremlin] propaganda". The authors say that their latest exegesis, melodramatically entitled "Putin. The Results. 10... Read More
In the wake of the economic crisis in which Russia's GDP fell by a stunning 7.9% in 2009, its status as a BRIC economy - with its connotations of promise and progress - was brought into question. After all, isn't it a dying nation with rapidly degrading infrastructure? Isn't it amazingly corrupt? Wouldn't its contempt... Read More
In a recent post, Mark Adomanis pointed out that the Russian economy has done significantly better than many other East European nations during the recent crisis and is now mounting a strong recovery. He also speculated on the effects of the crisis on the demography of badly-affected countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics,... Read More
I enjoyed the egg-throwing scenes from Ukraine's Rada on the ratification of the gas-for-fleet deal with Russia as much as anyone. It also reflected the polarized commentary on the interwebs. The Ukrainian patriot-bloggers get their knickers in a sweaty twist. The academic beigeocrat Alexander Motyl (he of "Why Russia is Really Weak" fame some four... Read More
On May 5th, Levada carried out an opinion poll asking Russians what percentage of their family's income is spent on food. No "Putin licking", useful idiocy, or ifs and buts about it. It is a very straightforward question, put to the Russian people, the long-suffering Russian people for whom Russia's liberals and the Western commentariat... Read More
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.