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    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...
  • […] <Note 3 – Soviet Economy> It’s worth pointing out that “socialism never works” mantra is obviously untrue, because: – It did work in USSR for 60 years – Very heavily socialized Chinese economy has rapidly overtaken USA and EU (by GDP-PPP) – Many EU countries are heavily socialist I found a very eloquent comment by Alexander Mercouris to an article by Anatoly Karlin. I think that comment describes Russian economic history over the past century rather well. It’s too long to present here in full, but I linked it below. By the way, I think that the Karlin article, that Mercouris was commenting on, is far less useful and true than the comment itself. http://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-soviet-economy-charting-failure/#comment-836022 […]

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  • […] fortuna c’è ancora qualcuno in grado di mettere le cose nel giusto contesto. In […]

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  • @Leon Lentz
    They did not lose their industrial base. Helsinki, Tampere, all bigger cities remained in Finland. Vyborg did not have much.

    The statistic is 50 percent of American GDP in 1980, so he already put some bias in there. Additionally, GDP measurement is very misleading. Both the UK and USA were in free fall in terms of production, but consumption, fuelled by credit and finanical machinations caused decent GDP ‘growth’.

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  • […] it was panned by some critics for being too antisocialist. Given post-glasnost revelations about poverty and oppression under Soviet socialism, that complaint is even more laughable now than it was at the […]

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  • I think we will never get accurate data about Soviet GDP.
    Data was falsified both during collection – by local authorities who would be judged by the central authorities based on whether their figures reflected the central economy prescriptions – and by internal propaganda, with its goal to portray the Soviet state in most positive light to its very citizens.
    Anyway, your graphic seems to show numbers higher than Maddison estimates. I checked his data and the values were by at least 5 percentage points lower on average. It never reached 40% of US GDP per capita. It was 32% in 1985 and 27% in 1991. I think this chart is based on Maddison’s work:
    Finally, the production of consumer goods was much lower than the GDP.

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  • In a recent poll conducted by the Levada Center, Leonid Brezhnev was revealed to be Russians' favorite ruler of the 20th century. Do you see his era as a Golden Age, or as a zastoi?
  • @Me
    Bring back the Tsar!!!

    Only 10% of Russians agree with that though…

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  • Bring back the Tsar!!!

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Only 10% of Russians agree with that though...
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • 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...
  • [...] the uniquely destructive disasters of the Russian Civil War and the Great Patriotic War, and when 1921-81 the wealth of the USSR is constantly rising. And then not just in absolute terms, but even in terms of actual convergence with the United [...]

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  • @yalensis
    I think even I kind of get this now, and I never studied math. Delta X would be the change in X (=GDP) over the past year. So the rate of change would be Delta-X divided by X. If the result is a positive number, that would be growth in GDP, otherwise decline. Similar Delta-R divided by R would be the growth (or decline) rate of rent. I still don't understand what "rent" means, though, and why it relates to GDP. Are you talking about, like, when I pay rent on my flat to my landlord?

    It’s complicated. The rent you pay to your landlord is always included in GDP, but it becomes tricky when you and landlord are the same dude. You don’t pay rent to yourself… or do you? Economists say some virtual money does still kinda move from one of your pockets to another, so they call it “imputed rent” and insist it should too be included in GDP.

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  • @peter
    Good, now we can return to the discussion at hand.

    What I meant to say is if GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y, then Y/(X+R) is less than Y/X.
     
    That's nonsense however you slice it, the correct argument goes as follows: if X is GDP without imputed rent, R is that rent, and ∆X and ∆R are their respective increases, then the unadjusted and adjusted growth rates are ∆X/X and (∆X+∆R)/(X+R)... Are you still with me?

    I think even I kind of get this now, and I never studied math. Delta X would be the change in X (=GDP) over the past year. So the rate of change would be Delta-X divided by X. If the result is a positive number, that would be growth in GDP, otherwise decline. Similar Delta-R divided by R would be the growth (or decline) rate of rent. I still don’t understand what “rent” means, though, and why it relates to GDP. Are you talking about, like, when I pay rent on my flat to my landlord?

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    • Replies: @peter
    It's complicated. The rent you pay to your landlord is always included in GDP, but it becomes tricky when you and landlord are the same dude. You don't pay rent to yourself... or do you? Economists say some virtual money does still kinda move from one of your pockets to another, so they call it "imputed rent" and insist it should too be included in GDP.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • Good, now we can return to the discussion at hand.

    What I meant to say is if GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y, then Y/(X+R) is less than Y/X.

    That’s nonsense however you slice it, the correct argument goes as follows: if X is GDP without imputed rent, R is that rent, and ∆X and ∆R are their respective increases, then the unadjusted and adjusted growth rates are ∆X/X and (∆X+∆R)/(X+R)… Are you still with me?

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    I think even I kind of get this now, and I never studied math. Delta X would be the change in X (=GDP) over the past year. So the rate of change would be Delta-X divided by X. If the result is a positive number, that would be growth in GDP, otherwise decline. Similar Delta-R divided by R would be the growth (or decline) rate of rent. I still don't understand what "rent" means, though, and why it relates to GDP. Are you talking about, like, when I pay rent on my flat to my landlord?
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Leon Lentz
    Deleted.

    My last 3 posts were complimentary of Peter and refuted the accusations by AP that I used an “F” word. Therefore, they should not be deleted as inflamatory. They were conciliatory and laudatory..

    AK: No, they were not. And don’t bother arguing, as this is not up for debate. To repeat the moderation note: Cease and desist. I do not wish to resort to firmer measures.

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  • Deleted.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    My last 3 posts were complimentary of Peter and refuted the accusations by AP that I used an "F" word. Therefore, they should not be deleted as inflamatory. They were conciliatory and laudatory..

    AK: No, they were not. And don't bother arguing, as this is not up for debate. To repeat the moderation note: Cease and desist. I do not wish to resort to firmer measures.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Leon Lentz
    To Peter: You mean that the the comment "your retarded" coming from you does not mean the commenter himself is retarded after all? No, no. What the problem is, is that you provided the Google link to labeling you retarded yourself. I am just here to console you. You are not retarded. Just slow. Very slow. Try more Pavlovian training at the Zoo.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

    Deleted.

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  • @AP
    I realize that I shouldn't wade into this troll battle, but from what I've seen Peter was obviously being ironic, and this irony went totally over Leon's head, even after it was explained to him by Peter (the link to how to google was quite funny, actually). Leon then essentially responded - unironically, it seems - by calling Peter a faggot.

    Peter wins this exchange vs. Leon.

    I did not call him a faggot.

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  • @AP
    I realize that I shouldn't wade into this troll battle, but from what I've seen Peter was obviously being ironic, and this irony went totally over Leon's head, even after it was explained to him by Peter (the link to how to google was quite funny, actually). Leon then essentially responded - unironically, it seems - by calling Peter a faggot.

    Peter wins this exchange vs. Leon.

    Oops. I didn’t see the moderation notes when I typed the above…

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  • AP says:
    @yalensis
    Wrong again, Einstein! peter was linking your comment on a previous blog where you claimed to have solved a genius-level math problem by the age of 19. (I can't believe I am taking peter's side in this Troll-war, but there you have it.) Anyhow, Leon, why don't you educate all of us by explaining:
    (1) what was that genius math problem you solved at the age of 19,
    (2) what was the title of your dissertation, and
    (3) at which American institution did you become a tenured professor? (another claim you made).

    I am just curious to google the above to verify your claims, because I cannot find any mention of your name in the lists of tenuerd American math professors.

    I realize that I shouldn’t wade into this troll battle, but from what I’ve seen Peter was obviously being ironic, and this irony went totally over Leon’s head, even after it was explained to him by Peter (the link to how to google was quite funny, actually). Leon then essentially responded – unironically, it seems – by calling Peter a faggot.

    Peter wins this exchange vs. Leon.

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    • Replies: @AP
    Oops. I didn't see the moderation notes when I typed the above...
    , @Leon Lentz
    I did not call him a faggot.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • MODERATION NOTE: The troll fight was fun while it lasted, but it’s now getting out of hand. Cease and desist on both sides. Any further flame-like responses will be deleted.

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  • @yalensis
    Wrong again, Einstein! peter was linking your comment on a previous blog where you claimed to have solved a genius-level math problem by the age of 19. (I can't believe I am taking peter's side in this Troll-war, but there you have it.) Anyhow, Leon, why don't you educate all of us by explaining:
    (1) what was that genius math problem you solved at the age of 19,
    (2) what was the title of your dissertation, and
    (3) at which American institution did you become a tenured professor? (another claim you made).

    I am just curious to google the above to verify your claims, because I cannot find any mention of your name in the lists of tenuerd American math professors.

    To Yalensis:
    1. The reference Peter provided in his other post to google “your retarded” is the reference that says the person who writes that, is himself retarded. This is as stupid a self abasement as I have seen.
    2. “Leon Lentz” is not at all close to my real name.
    3. By identiying the problems I solved, I would give out a clue. I prefer to remain anonymous. I have nothing to gain in proving to you or anybody else that I am a Professor or a good mathematician. My points were that there was an anti- Semitism as an institution in the USSR.
    4. I never referred to myself or the problems I solved by the word “genius”. It applies to people like Grigoriy Perelman, not me. However, I am referred to as a good mathematician by external reviewers, whatever that means (probably not much).

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  • @Leon Lentz
    Reply to Peter's post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.(above this one) When you use the link provided by Peter himself you get to the Google search on words "your retarded", which is what Peter has posted on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. above,.and the first item of this search says:

    "Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying " your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing...""

    So to make it perectly clear (see posts above):
    1.Peter posts on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. words "your retarded".
    2. To that post I answer at 9:45 and 10 a.m. saying it sounds like a signature or "your retarded opponent".
    3. Then Peter at 5:41p.m. on July 10 (post above) posts a reply denying my proposed guesses on what his illiterate post means providing a link to the Google search, the first item of which says that whoever writes "your retarded" is actually retarded himself by not knowing [the grammar].


    Here is the direct link:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=your%20retarded
    and here is what it says:

    "your retarded 107 up, 31 down
    Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying "your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing the correct grammar.
    Billy Bob: your retarded
    Sally: Look who's talking. Get some grammar lessons, retard."

    So Peter (above post) provides a link to the site which calls himself "retarded". What an incredible self flagellation! I think that it has not dawned on him yet the meaning of all this. Poor Peter, poor British/ American people. Poor Barak Obama, poor American/British imperialism, the Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Mac!.

    Wrong again, Einstein! peter was linking your comment on a previous blog where you claimed to have solved a genius-level math problem by the age of 19. (I can’t believe I am taking peter’s side in this Troll-war, but there you have it.) Anyhow, Leon, why don’t you educate all of us by explaining:
    (1) what was that genius math problem you solved at the age of 19,
    (2) what was the title of your dissertation, and
    (3) at which American institution did you become a tenured professor? (another claim you made).

    I am just curious to google the above to verify your claims, because I cannot find any mention of your name in the lists of tenuerd American math professors.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    To Yalensis:
    1. The reference Peter provided in his other post to google "your retarded" is the reference that says the person who writes that, is himself retarded. This is as stupid a self abasement as I have seen.
    2. "Leon Lentz" is not at all close to my real name.
    3. By identiying the problems I solved, I would give out a clue. I prefer to remain anonymous. I have nothing to gain in proving to you or anybody else that I am a Professor or a good mathematician. My points were that there was an anti- Semitism as an institution in the USSR.
    4. I never referred to myself or the problems I solved by the word "genius". It applies to people like Grigoriy Perelman, not me. However, I am referred to as a good mathematician by external reviewers, whatever that means (probably not much).
    , @AP
    I realize that I shouldn't wade into this troll battle, but from what I've seen Peter was obviously being ironic, and this irony went totally over Leon's head, even after it was explained to him by Peter (the link to how to google was quite funny, actually). Leon then essentially responded - unironically, it seems - by calling Peter a faggot.

    Peter wins this exchange vs. Leon.

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  • @peter
    Your retarded.

    You mean that the the comment “your retarded” coming from you does not mean the commenter himself is retarded after all?

    Good, you’re finally starting to get it. The comment “your retarded” was indeed a joke of sorts meant to point out that crying misspell in “слив защитан” was a bit, well, retarded on your part.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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  • @peter

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.
     
    I appreciate you're not a math genius, but you could at least try to learn how to put comments in the right thread. Continued here...

    See MODERATION NOTE.

    Поменяй ник Петр на Пидор. Тебе это больше подходит.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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  • @peter

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.
     
    I appreciate you're not a math genius, but you could at least try to learn how to put comments in the right thread. Continued here...

    See MODERATION NOTE.

    Was your mother a bad speller too when she named you Peter instead of Pidor?

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  • @peter

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.
     
    I appreciate you're not a math genius, but you could at least try to learn how to put comments in the right thread. Continued here...

    See MODERATION NOTE.

    To Peter: Ты голова! Если бы в ней были мозги, тебе бы цены не было!
    Среди всех голубых дебилов, которых я встречал, ты, Петя самый лучший
    знаток грамматики, только одна ошибка на каждое слово.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    To Peter,
    Why should you read my comments? Just relax and do something you are good at. Eat some fish.

    To Peter: You mean that the the comment “your retarded” coming from you does not mean the commenter himself is retarded after all? No, no. What the problem is, is that you provided the Google link to labeling you retarded yourself. I am just here to console you. You are not retarded. Just slow. Very slow. Try more Pavlovian training at the Zoo.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    Deleted.
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  • @Leon Lentz
    Reply to Peter's post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.(above this one) When you use the link provided by Peter himself you get to the Google search on words "your retarded", which is what Peter has posted on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. above,.and the first item of this search says:

    "Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying " your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing...""

    So to make it perectly clear (see posts above):
    1.Peter posts on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. words "your retarded".
    2. To that post I answer at 9:45 and 10 a.m. saying it sounds like a signature or "your retarded opponent".
    3. Then Peter at 5:41p.m. on July 10 (post above) posts a reply denying my proposed guesses on what his illiterate post means providing a link to the Google search, the first item of which says that whoever writes "your retarded" is actually retarded himself by not knowing [the grammar].


    Here is the direct link:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=your%20retarded
    and here is what it says:

    "your retarded 107 up, 31 down
    Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying "your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing the correct grammar.
    Billy Bob: your retarded
    Sally: Look who's talking. Get some grammar lessons, retard."

    So Peter (above post) provides a link to the site which calls himself "retarded". What an incredible self flagellation! I think that it has not dawned on him yet the meaning of all this. Poor Peter, poor British/ American people. Poor Barak Obama, poor American/British imperialism, the Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Mac!.

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.

    I appreciate you’re not a math genius, but you could at least try to learn how to put comments in the right thread. Continued here

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    To Peter: Ты голова! Если бы в ней были мозги, тебе бы цены не было!
    Среди всех голубых дебилов, которых я встречал, ты, Петя самый лучший
    знаток грамматики, только одна ошибка на каждое слово.
    , @Leon Lentz
    Was your mother a bad speller too when she named you Peter instead of Pidor?
    , @Leon Lentz
    Поменяй ник Петр на Пидор. Тебе это больше подходит.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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  • @peter
    Your retarded.

    Here is the direct link… and here is what it says…

    Что ни делает дурак, всё он делает не так. You picked the wrong definition, try the second one.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    To Peter,
    Why should you read my comments? Just relax and do something you are good at. Eat some fish.

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.(above this one) When you use the link provided by Peter himself you get to the Google search on words “your retarded”, which is what Peter has posted on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. above,.and the first item of this search says:

    “Oh, the irony. “Your retarded” is incorrect. It should be “You’re retarded”. Saying ” your retarded” is just making yourself retarded by not knowing…””

    So to make it perectly clear (see posts above):
    1.Peter posts on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. words “your retarded”.
    2. To that post I answer at 9:45 and 10 a.m. saying it sounds like a signature or “your retarded opponent”.
    3. Then Peter at 5:41p.m. on July 10 (post above) posts a reply denying my proposed guesses on what his illiterate post means providing a link to the Google search, the first item of which says that whoever writes “your retarded” is actually retarded himself by not knowing [the grammar].

    Here is the direct link:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=your%20retarded

    and here is what it says:

    “your retarded 107 up, 31 down
    Oh, the irony. “Your retarded” is incorrect. It should be “You’re retarded”. Saying “your retarded” is just making yourself retarded by not knowing the correct grammar.
    Billy Bob: your retarded
    Sally: Look who’s talking. Get some grammar lessons, retard.”

    So Peter (above post) provides a link to the site which calls himself “retarded”. What an incredible self flagellation! I think that it has not dawned on him yet the meaning of all this. Poor Peter, poor British/ American people. Poor Barak Obama, poor American/British imperialism, the Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Mac!.

    Read More
    • Replies: @peter

    Reply to Peter’s post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.
     
    I appreciate you're not a math genius, but you could at least try to learn how to put comments in the right thread. Continued here...

    See MODERATION NOTE.

    , @yalensis
    Wrong again, Einstein! peter was linking your comment on a previous blog where you claimed to have solved a genius-level math problem by the age of 19. (I can't believe I am taking peter's side in this Troll-war, but there you have it.) Anyhow, Leon, why don't you educate all of us by explaining:
    (1) what was that genius math problem you solved at the age of 19,
    (2) what was the title of your dissertation, and
    (3) at which American institution did you become a tenured professor? (another claim you made).

    I am just curious to google the above to verify your claims, because I cannot find any mention of your name in the lists of tenuerd American math professors.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @peter
    Your retarded.

    Is it your signature? Like yours truly?

    No.

    You mean “my retarded opponent on this blog”?

    Wrong again. Okay, I’ll help you out.

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  • @Jennifer Hor
    I note that on the graph "Russia's GDP/c as a % of others' 1870-2008" that there was an upward tick for Russia's GDP/c as a % of Portugal's in the mid-1970s which would suggest that the loss of Portuguese colonies in 1975 had some effect on Portugal's economic performance but by then Portugal was integrated in the western European economy so the upward trend didn't last. There's also an upward tick for Russia's GDP/c as a % of Greece's GDP/c during the early 1970s that coincides with the Greek military government's rule but like Portugal Greece's economy was integrated with western Europe.

    Portugal and Greece were also beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan aka European Recovery Program in the late 40s/early 50s and this would have boosted their economies, not right away, but over a period of several years to a decade as the money was being invested in construction and industrial development.

    Finland and the Soviet Union had a barter system from 1945 to the early 1990s which would rule Finland out as a comparison.

    I'd have thought larger countries like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Canada, which have more varied physical environments, ethnically heterogeneous populations and cultures, and a similar history of playing catch-up industrialisation with some degree of central government planning, with no help of the kind western Europe received from the US after 1945, would be better points of comparison.

    Both Portugal and Spain experienced an economic shock as a result of the collapse of their authoritarian old regimes, leading to temporary deconvergence from northwestern European GDP per capita. Cf central Europe post-1989.

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  • @Kurt
    Finland lost the Winter War in 1939 and had to cede most of their industrial base to the Soviets. This explains their corresponding economic slump.

    They did not lose their industrial base. Helsinki, Tampere, all bigger cities remained in Finland. Vyborg did not have much.

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    • Replies: @Anonymous
    The statistic is 50 percent of American GDP in 1980, so he already put some bias in there. Additionally, GDP measurement is very misleading. Both the UK and USA were in free fall in terms of production, but consumption, fuelled by credit and finanical machinations caused decent GDP 'growth'.
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  • @kirill
    Voice of reason, eh? This voice of reason pulls a straw man in the form of Khrushovky and tries to paint all Soviet housing as equivalent. These Khrushovky are better than the American uber-apartments that I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One brand spanking new one that cost $2000 per month about 12 years ago had walls made of drywall where you would hear your neighbour playing music even if it was not cranked up. Might as well move in with your neighbour since he controls your sleep. So the voice of reason's claim that only ghetto apartments in the US are crap is full of BS. The second rate apartment I lived in Arlington was simply a hell hole. It did not have concrete slab floors so you would hear your neurotic upstairs neighbour run around for most of the night. The footfalls weren't just some small noise, they were loud enough to wake you up. Yet again, this was not some ghetto dive but a common small US wood frame apartment. Basically to have some peace and quiet in the US and Canada you need to live in a private house.

    The St. Petersburg commie block I stayed at in the last few years was built in the 1980s and cannot be fobbed off as some 3rd world dump no matter how much the voice reason wishes for it. I see similar commie blocks dominating large tracts of St. Petersburg real estate. This apartment had a foyer, two very large rooms, a private bath and a kitchen. You could not hear any neighbour because it was built like a concrete bunker. The ventilation was something to behold in this unit. You could not tell there was ventilation but you could not tell that a smoker lived there either. I am reminded of this "inferior" Soviet housing every time I have to smell someone from a stall whose flatulence permeates the whole of the washroom in even posh public toilets in the west. Clearly they don't have a clue how to ventilate enclosed spaces in the western paradise.

    As for being deprived of apartments, my relatives in Saratov were receiving apartments for each offspring of the family and did not have to share across generations. Since I see the party appartchick accusation coming, no they had no party cards and were not connected to the elite.

    There is lots of distortion about the facts of the USSR. Be they WWII or life in the 1970s, the same tropes from the same people with the same agenda. I'll hold the west to my standard and so far it is not what it is made out to be. BTW, I am fully ware of the failures of Soviet communism so I don't need lies and distortions fed to me about it. If you have a case then argue with the truth.

    I lived in Kruschovka apartment as a kid in Moscow. The view out of the window was magnificent, forest, roses in Spring and Summer and snow capped pines in Winter, frozen lake for skating. I could just put a ski in my apartment and go out cross country for hours. There is nothing comparable in US which is just a shithole. I have read that a person in Florida, was mistakenly identified as somebody who did not pay a traffic ticket and was put in jail for a week and was body cavity searched every day. This is a lot worse than USSR, they imprisoned a couple of dozens of political prisoners, but the rest of the people were left alone. US fascist system oppresses and dehumanizes everyone. I think US today can be compared to Nazi Germany and Americans to brainwashed Hitler worshippers.

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  • @peter
    Your retarded.

    “Your retarded”? You mean “my retarded opponent on this blog”? Peter, don’t feel bad, you are not really seriously retarded, you are just “special”.

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  • @peter
    Your retarded.

    Is it your signature? Like yours truly? You are actually very advanced, I admire that. You are the only person who can function exclusively with butt thinking.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    I like your spelling. You must be a self proclaimed spelling bee champion. Good schooling! Apparently they use good Pavlovian reflex training at the Zoos nowadays.

    Your retarded.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    Is it your signature? Like yours truly? You are actually very advanced, I admire that. You are the only person who can function exclusively with butt thinking.
    , @Leon Lentz
    "Your retarded"? You mean "my retarded opponent on this blog"? Peter, don't feel bad, you are not really seriously retarded, you are just "special".
    , @peter

    Is it your signature? Like yours truly?
     
    No.

    You mean “my retarded opponent on this blog”?
     
    Wrong again. Okay, I'll help you out.
    , @peter

    Here is the direct link... and here is what it says...
     
    Что ни делает дурак, всё он делает не так. You picked the wrong definition, try the second one.
    , @peter

    You mean that the the comment “your retarded” coming from you does not mean the commenter himself is retarded after all?
     
    Good, you're finally starting to get it. The comment "your retarded" was indeed a joke of sorts meant to point out that crying misspell in "слив защитан" was a bit, well, retarded on your part.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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  • @peter
    Слив защитан.

    I like your spelling. You must be a self proclaimed spelling bee champion. Good schooling! Apparently they use good Pavlovian reflex training at the Zoos nowadays.

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    • Replies: @peter
    Your retarded.
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  • @Leon Lentz
    I am not a math genius. However, you need a teacher who is retarded to deal with your mental disability on your level.

    The comment above is meant for Peter, not Yalensis. Peter is not a troll. He is a patriotic, hard working, flag saluting American, I respect that. My advice to him: Just avoid stressful mental exercises like posting on websites, seeing formulas, using sentences longer than 4-6 words, and you will live to be at least 94, Ronald Reagan followed this advice and did OK, so did Prince Charles, the Queen, the Queen’ mother and a host of other challenged, but beautiful people.

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  • @peter
    Just for laughs, of course. Self-proclaimed math geniuses are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, but you must be the phoniest of them all.

    I am not a math genius. However, you need a teacher who is retarded to deal with your mental disability on your level.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    The comment above is meant for Peter, not Yalensis. Peter is not a troll. He is a patriotic, hard working, flag saluting American, I respect that. My advice to him: Just avoid stressful mental exercises like posting on websites, seeing formulas, using sentences longer than 4-6 words, and you will live to be at least 94, Ronald Reagan followed this advice and did OK, so did Prince Charles, the Queen, the Queen' mother and a host of other challenged, but beautiful people.
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  • @peter
    Just for laughs, of course. Self-proclaimed math geniuses are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, but you must be the phoniest of them all.

    Has broken out a tragic epidemic of troll-on-troll verbal violence….
    :(

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  • @Leon Lentz
    To Peter,
    Why should you read my comments? Just relax and do something you are good at. Eat some fish.

    Just for laughs, of course. Self-proclaimed math geniuses are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, but you must be the phoniest of them all.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    Has broken out a tragic epidemic of troll-on-troll verbal violence....

    :(

    , @Leon Lentz
    I am not a math genius. However, you need a teacher who is retarded to deal with your mental disability on your level.
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  • @Leon Lentz
    Peter, I would say you are not capable of understanding anything. Go salute your flag, that's all you guys are good for. BTW, screw the Queen, in case you are British.

    Слив защитан.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    I like your spelling. You must be a self proclaimed spelling bee champion. Good schooling! Apparently they use good Pavlovian reflex training at the Zoos nowadays.
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  • @peter

    ... GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y...
     
    The increase of what exactly? Of X? Or of X+R? Please try to be less sloppy.

    To Peter,
    Why should you read my comments? Just relax and do something you are good at. Eat some fish.

    Read More
    • Replies: @peter
    Just for laughs, of course. Self-proclaimed math geniuses are a dime a dozen on the interwebs, but you must be the phoniest of them all.
    , @Leon Lentz
    Reply to Peter's post made by him on July 10 at 5:41p.m.(above this one) When you use the link provided by Peter himself you get to the Google search on words "your retarded", which is what Peter has posted on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. above,.and the first item of this search says:

    "Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying " your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing...""

    So to make it perectly clear (see posts above):
    1.Peter posts on July 10 at 7:55 a.m. words "your retarded".
    2. To that post I answer at 9:45 and 10 a.m. saying it sounds like a signature or "your retarded opponent".
    3. Then Peter at 5:41p.m. on July 10 (post above) posts a reply denying my proposed guesses on what his illiterate post means providing a link to the Google search, the first item of which says that whoever writes "your retarded" is actually retarded himself by not knowing [the grammar].


    Here is the direct link:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=your%20retarded
    and here is what it says:

    "your retarded 107 up, 31 down
    Oh, the irony. "Your retarded" is incorrect. It should be "You're retarded". Saying "your retarded" is just making yourself retarded by not knowing the correct grammar.
    Billy Bob: your retarded
    Sally: Look who's talking. Get some grammar lessons, retard."

    So Peter (above post) provides a link to the site which calls himself "retarded". What an incredible self flagellation! I think that it has not dawned on him yet the meaning of all this. Poor Peter, poor British/ American people. Poor Barak Obama, poor American/British imperialism, the Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Mac!.

    , @Leon Lentz
    To Peter: You mean that the the comment "your retarded" coming from you does not mean the commenter himself is retarded after all? No, no. What the problem is, is that you provided the Google link to labeling you retarded yourself. I am just here to console you. You are not retarded. Just slow. Very slow. Try more Pavlovian training at the Zoo.

    See MODERATION NOTE.

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  • @peter

    ... GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y...
     
    The increase of what exactly? Of X? Or of X+R? Please try to be less sloppy.

    Peter, I would say you are not capable of understanding anything. Go salute your flag, that’s all you guys are good for. BTW, screw the Queen, in case you are British.

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    • Replies: @peter
    Слив защитан.
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  • @Leon Lentz
    To Peter and AK:
    What I meant to say is if GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y, then Y/(X+R) is less than Y/X. The rest of the discussion is irrelevant to what I said and you (Peter) may as well talk to yourself about it. Peter must buy a frozen orange juice if he wants concentrate, after staring at it for a while he will get my point. Although, I don't know if it is even possible if one is Anglo Saxon. The PPP is designed to be proportional to the nominal (N) and reflect the real living quality. The coefficient adjusting the parity between the two, i.e. N/PPP may vary from year to year. So if the nominal has increased, we might expect an increase in PPP. And no, hypothetical rent was not taken into the account in earlier PPP calculations.

    … GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y…

    The increase of what exactly? Of X? Or of X+R? Please try to be less sloppy.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    Peter, I would say you are not capable of understanding anything. Go salute your flag, that's all you guys are good for. BTW, screw the Queen, in case you are British.
    , @Leon Lentz
    To Peter,
    Why should you read my comments? Just relax and do something you are good at. Eat some fish.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • To AK: assume that K=PPP/N, then if one owns a house and it can bring him an additional income R, that hypothetical income is added to N, one can get real value for that money which is KR. So within the same year, an increase in N will result in proportional increase in PPP with coefficient K. I agree that the coefficient K and R will vary from year to year, but it is normally a system with much greater hystheresis, so the change is very slow. The hypothetical rent value would not only be greater because it is relatively more expensive in Russia but also because much greater number of Russians actually own the real estate, without paying mortgage.

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  • To AK: I don’t think I disagree with your statement, although I should say that actual renters in Russia spend higher percentage of their income on rent, so the increase in PPP percentage wise will be greater than that in nominal. This means that Russian PPP will increase even greater than nominal percentage-wise. In fact, very few people in US can rent out their apartment and live on it, while practically everybody in big cities in Russia can do that.

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  • To Peter and AK:
    What I meant to say is if GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y, then Y/(X+R) is less than Y/X. The rest of the discussion is irrelevant to what I said and you (Peter) may as well talk to yourself about it. Peter must buy a frozen orange juice if he wants concentrate, after staring at it for a while he will get my point. Although, I don’t know if it is even possible if one is Anglo Saxon. The PPP is designed to be proportional to the nominal (N) and reflect the real living quality. The coefficient adjusting the parity between the two, i.e. N/PPP may vary from year to year. So if the nominal has increased, we might expect an increase in PPP. And no, hypothetical rent was not taken into the account in earlier PPP calculations.

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    • Replies: @peter

    ... GDP is X without the hypothetical rent and R is that rent and the yearly increase is Y...
     
    The increase of what exactly? Of X? Or of X+R? Please try to be less sloppy.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @peter

    The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article...
     
    Hint: click the word "Эксперт" on the right edge of the page under the author's photo.

    ... the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total...
     
    Yes, but why would the "yearly increase in absolute terms" stay the same? Try again.

    … the yearly increase in production doesn’t depend on whatever paper shenanigans you do.

    Yes, but we’re not talking about the increase in production, we’re talking about the increase in the entire GDP. Please concentrate and try again.

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  • @peter

    The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article...
     
    Hint: click the word "Эксперт" on the right edge of the page under the author's photo.

    ... the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total...
     
    Yes, but why would the "yearly increase in absolute terms" stay the same? Try again.

    I hate to support the Peter troll, but the argument is logical. Rent prices vary year to year, and generally in line with the overall economy; hence, so will the imputed value of owning one’s own home.

    And as mentioned, carrying over these adjustments from nominal to PPP so cavalierly is dangerous: “Тут конечно возникает вопрос, можно ли распространять этот высокий ППС рубля для жилищной сферы на нее после дооценки. Ведь возможно, ОЭСР как раз и делал поправку здесь на недооцененность российского хаузинга.”

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  • @peter

    The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article...
     
    Hint: click the word "Эксперт" on the right edge of the page under the author's photo.

    ... the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total...
     
    Yes, but why would the "yearly increase in absolute terms" stay the same? Try again.

    Yearly increase in absolute terms will stay the same, because the yearly increase in production doesn’t depend on whatever paper shenanigans you do. The number of cars produced doesn’t depend on whether you add hypothetical rent to GDP or not. It is obvious, I wonder why would you question this and what in the world goes through yuor head. Explain why isn’t it obvious to anybody?

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Are you pretending not to notice this on purpose?

    Your link about Russian vacations is NOT to Europe specifically. The two most popular destinations are Egypt and Turkey (equivalent to Cancun for the US), the third and fourth is China and Finland (equivalent to Canada for the US), and fifth is Thailand.

    In total, those five countries account for 3.163 million Russian tourists. Even if we (unrealistically, of course) assume that ALL the remaining 2 million went to Europe - or 4 million annually - that's still considerably less than the 13 million American visits back in 2006 even after accounting for population differences.

    There is a different dynamics in traveling to Canada than to Finland. Russians do not just cross over. Turkey is partly in Europe and should be considered as such, at least European organizations count it in every instance part of Europe. However, I have to say that Egypt, since 2011, has fallen out of favor now due to a political situation there and Israel is in. I agree that my stats need to be refined more, for example, some countries like Japan and Israel are first world and should be considered as prestigious places to visit. It is a hot summer day in Moscow and my brains are not willing to search the Internet for more points to make. One should exclude border states from FSU and include Finland and Turkey on the Russian side and exclude all countries bordering US or in the near Caribbean and include Asia and Europe. I don’t have the stats now, but I agree to make a point, one has to do more research.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    Dude,
    I cite European travel, because millions of Russians cross over to Kazakhstan and Ukraine and millions of Americans cross over to Mexico and it doesn't cost a penny. We are discussing what could be a measure of one's wealth, a travel which requires money, to expensive faraway countries. A vacation in Mexico costs a lot less and can be compared to a vacation in one's dacha. Canada is the same way, a lot of border state residents go there on weekends and it's not a proof of wealth.
    What you call dishonest is just simply a bit of intelligent thinking. Try it sometime.

    I realize that to state that Russians live better than Americans in every way and have wealthier country is a bit of a stretch. Americans used to a certain lifestyle and they don’t know what they are missing. Russians who come to US, see no available next door nature, oppressive heat, police state, low culture and low intelligence, inferior educational level, propaganda lies, lies, lies. Americans when they come to Russia, see fewer affordable grease joints, corruption, absence of American style elections, gloomy Russians, prettier women. Russia is bureaucratic and harder to deal with on that level many times over. Additionally, the University professors and medical doctors are the most underpaid professions. It is a mistake to think Russian professors live poorly now. Putin is going to double their salaries next year, but they get enough perks to give them a decent lifestyle, but nothing like the US faculty. On the other hand, many professions, like sales people, do better in Russia. To summarize, what is important for Russians is really bad in US and in whatever ways Russia is better, is almost irrelevant to Americans.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    Dude,
    I cite European travel, because millions of Russians cross over to Kazakhstan and Ukraine and millions of Americans cross over to Mexico and it doesn't cost a penny. We are discussing what could be a measure of one's wealth, a travel which requires money, to expensive faraway countries. A vacation in Mexico costs a lot less and can be compared to a vacation in one's dacha. Canada is the same way, a lot of border state residents go there on weekends and it's not a proof of wealth.
    What you call dishonest is just simply a bit of intelligent thinking. Try it sometime.

    Are you pretending not to notice this on purpose?

    Your link about Russian vacations is NOT to Europe specifically. The two most popular destinations are Egypt and Turkey (equivalent to Cancun for the US), the third and fourth is China and Finland (equivalent to Canada for the US), and fifth is Thailand.

    In total, those five countries account for 3.163 million Russian tourists. Even if we (unrealistically, of course) assume that ALL the remaining 2 million went to Europe – or 4 million annually – that’s still considerably less than the 13 million American visits back in 2006 even after accounting for population differences.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    There is a different dynamics in traveling to Canada than to Finland. Russians do not just cross over. Turkey is partly in Europe and should be considered as such, at least European organizations count it in every instance part of Europe. However, I have to say that Egypt, since 2011, has fallen out of favor now due to a political situation there and Israel is in. I agree that my stats need to be refined more, for example, some countries like Japan and Israel are first world and should be considered as prestigious places to visit. It is a hot summer day in Moscow and my brains are not willing to search the Internet for more points to make. One should exclude border states from FSU and include Finland and Turkey on the Russian side and exclude all countries bordering US or in the near Caribbean and include Asia and Europe. I don't have the stats now, but I agree to make a point, one has to do more research.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @leon lentz
    To AK:
    I have read the article to which you provided the link. The author made statements like:
    "прикинуть стоимость жилого фонда находящегося в собственности населения – 2.65 млрд. м2 по среднероссийской цене вторичного рынка 60 т.р. за м2). ". What does it mean? How can 1 square meter cost 60 trillion rubles? If this is the figure counting cost of 1 sq. m. increase for the total population, it will come to the number of 14 dollars a sq. m. which is also ludicrous. The author, whose name isn't immediately clear from the article, is confused about math in general and logic in particular, very typical of journalists.

    Most of his statements which are statistical in nature make no sense at all. Also, if GDP increases on paper, then the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total, and the author says it won't change the growth rates, which is a total nonsense.

    The author states that this adjustment in US resulted in 9% GDP increase, but in US most people either pay rent or mortgage, so hypothetical cost of rent adjustments affect a very small part of the population which has paid their mortgage off. In Russia, the owners who do not pay mortgage or rent constitute well over 90%. This means this adjustment will result in much higher than in US percentage change and significant slowing down of growth percentage-wise.

    Also, the Russian shadow economy is estimated 30% of the total, so, it will be 43% increase when taking this into account. I believe that counting this and the hypothetical rent will double the Russian GDP per capita.

    A conservative estimate, including the renting cost of dachas, will be on the order of 330$ a month per person, a less conservative estimate, will be about 400$ a month, which will translate in a yearly $4-5k increase in the nominal GDP per capita. This is roughly 560-700 billion dollars a year, which is 30%-39% increase in total nominal Russian GDP (of about 1.82 trillion dollars for 2011). If we consider 1.39*1.43 we get roughly 1.99, i.e. almost double increase in nominal GDP and a similar increase in PPP GDP. Considering a more conservative figure, 1.3*1.43 will give about 1.86 GDP increase, which is still almost double. I am not at all sure Rosstat will make these adjustments, certainly not the one with the shadow economy part.

    The point being it will make Russia less attractive to foreign investors, at least on paper. With the crisis which is taking place in Greece and Portugal, the GDP per capita without these adjustments is already higher in Russia, no need to catch up. The 2011 figures did not take this crisis into the account, but the next year ones will.

    The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article…

    Hint: click the word “Эксперт” on the right edge of the page under the author’s photo.

    … the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total…

    Yes, but why would the “yearly increase in absolute terms” stay the same? Try again.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    Yearly increase in absolute terms will stay the same, because the yearly increase in production doesn't depend on whatever paper shenanigans you do. The number of cars produced doesn't depend on whether you add hypothetical rent to GDP or not. It is obvious, I wonder why would you question this and what in the world goes through yuor head. Explain why isn't it obvious to anybody?
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    I hate to support the Peter troll, but the argument is logical. Rent prices vary year to year, and generally in line with the overall economy; hence, so will the imputed value of owning one's own home.

    And as mentioned, carrying over these adjustments from nominal to PPP so cavalierly is dangerous: "Тут конечно возникает вопрос, можно ли распространять этот высокий ППС рубля для жилищной сферы на нее после дооценки. Ведь возможно, ОЭСР как раз и делал поправку здесь на недооцененность российского хаузинга."

    , @peter

    ... the yearly increase in production doesn’t depend on whatever paper shenanigans you do.
     
    Yes, but we're not talking about the increase in production, we're talking about the increase in the entire GDP. Please concentrate and try again.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Dude, you're just being dishonest now. Why are you citing a source which only counts American travels to Europe? I am certain that at least as many Americans as travel to Europe, travel to Mexico (over the border, or the beaches of Cancun); and plus neighboring Canada, as well as other popular destination spots like Thailand and the Caribbean.

    Dude,
    I cite European travel, because millions of Russians cross over to Kazakhstan and Ukraine and millions of Americans cross over to Mexico and it doesn’t cost a penny. We are discussing what could be a measure of one’s wealth, a travel which requires money, to expensive faraway countries. A vacation in Mexico costs a lot less and can be compared to a vacation in one’s dacha. Canada is the same way, a lot of border state residents go there on weekends and it’s not a proof of wealth.
    What you call dishonest is just simply a bit of intelligent thinking. Try it sometime.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Are you pretending not to notice this on purpose?

    Your link about Russian vacations is NOT to Europe specifically. The two most popular destinations are Egypt and Turkey (equivalent to Cancun for the US), the third and fourth is China and Finland (equivalent to Canada for the US), and fifth is Thailand.

    In total, those five countries account for 3.163 million Russian tourists. Even if we (unrealistically, of course) assume that ALL the remaining 2 million went to Europe - or 4 million annually - that's still considerably less than the 13 million American visits back in 2006 even after accounting for population differences.

    , @Leon Lentz
    I realize that to state that Russians live better than Americans in every way and have wealthier country is a bit of a stretch. Americans used to a certain lifestyle and they don't know what they are missing. Russians who come to US, see no available next door nature, oppressive heat, police state, low culture and low intelligence, inferior educational level, propaganda lies, lies, lies. Americans when they come to Russia, see fewer affordable grease joints, corruption, absence of American style elections, gloomy Russians, prettier women. Russia is bureaucratic and harder to deal with on that level many times over. Additionally, the University professors and medical doctors are the most underpaid professions. It is a mistake to think Russian professors live poorly now. Putin is going to double their salaries next year, but they get enough perks to give them a decent lifestyle, but nothing like the US faculty. On the other hand, many professions, like sales people, do better in Russia. To summarize, what is important for Russians is really bad in US and in whatever ways Russia is better, is almost irrelevant to Americans.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Leon Lentz
    China has already surpassed the US in total GDP. US is in shambles.
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/has-china-already-passed-the-u-s-as-the-worlds-largest-economy.html

    I agree with this. I’ve been intermittently writing on the topic for two years now.

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  • @Leon Lentz
    http://www.freesun.be/news/index.php/the-number-of-the-russians-traveling-abroad-increased-by-40-during-the-first-six-months-of-the-year/
    This shows that the number of Russians travelling abroad is more than 5mln in half a year, i.e. more than 10 million. In US, less than 13 mln a year travel, http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2007-04-05-europe-travel-trends_N.htm, so the percentage of Russian vs percentage of Americans travelling to Europe is 7.3% in Russia, vs.4.3% in US. This the result of lower standards of living in US. Reminding that US population is 310 mln and Russian population is 143 mln.

    Dude, you’re just being dishonest now. Why are you citing a source which only counts American travels to Europe? I am certain that at least as many Americans as travel to Europe, travel to Mexico (over the border, or the beaches of Cancun); and plus neighboring Canada, as well as other popular destination spots like Thailand and the Caribbean.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    Dude,
    I cite European travel, because millions of Russians cross over to Kazakhstan and Ukraine and millions of Americans cross over to Mexico and it doesn't cost a penny. We are discussing what could be a measure of one's wealth, a travel which requires money, to expensive faraway countries. A vacation in Mexico costs a lot less and can be compared to a vacation in one's dacha. Canada is the same way, a lot of border state residents go there on weekends and it's not a proof of wealth.
    What you call dishonest is just simply a bit of intelligent thinking. Try it sometime.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • http://www.freesun.be/news/index.php/the-number-of-the-russians-traveling-abroad-increased-by-40-during-the-first-six-months-of-the-year/

    This shows that the number of Russians travelling abroad is more than 5mln in half a year, i.e. more than 10 million. In US, less than 13 mln a year travel, http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2007-04-05-europe-travel-trends_N.htm, so the percentage of Russian vs percentage of Americans travelling to Europe is 7.3% in Russia, vs.4.3% in US. This the result of lower standards of living in US. Reminding that US population is 310 mln and Russian population is 143 mln.

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    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Dude, you're just being dishonest now. Why are you citing a source which only counts American travels to Europe? I am certain that at least as many Americans as travel to Europe, travel to Mexico (over the border, or the beaches of Cancun); and plus neighboring Canada, as well as other popular destination spots like Thailand and the Caribbean.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • MY prediction: Rosstat will be reluctant to make any adjustments at all, and if it does, the adjustment for the hypothetical rent will be a lot lower than it should be and it will be just 33% for both PPP and nominal GDP. This will significantly reduce the growth rate, it will decreased by 25%. An adjustment by 25% will reduce the growth rate by 20%.

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  • Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    I agree with this. I've been intermittently writing on the topic for two years now.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    (1) "60 т.р. за м2" obviously means 60,000 rubles. Not trillion LOL.

    (2) If GDP increases by, say, 10% due to this adjustment; then the same year's growth relative to the whole will increase by only 10% less. So the argument is not illogical.

    (3) At this point, I would also like to mention that 67% of Americans own their own house.

    (4) As I may have pointed out previously, doubling the Russian GDP will practically bring it level with America's. I can't believe that one could plausibly argue that the average Russian is as well-off as the average American. For a start just look at the consumption basket. How frequently do Russians visit restaurants? How frequently do they travel abroad?

    (5) While this adjustment will of course increase nominal GDP, I do not know why it would necessarily increase PPP GDP. I think it quite likely that this would have already been taken into account in the 2008 OECD/WB revision that raised Russia's PPP GDP per capita to about $20,000.

    1. I thought he was counting total market.
    2. GDP, as I have shown will almost double, so the rates will halve and this is significant. If the GDP goes up by 50%, the rate will go down by 2/3, signiicant change.
    3.67% Americans owning their house doesn’t mean they paid off their mortgage. The bank still holds the title. 67% is the figure which includes the ones paying the mortgage, so the adjustment will not touch them.
    4. Russians go abroad more frequently, only wealthy Americans can afford it.
    Concerning restaurants: in US, they call everything restaurant, in Russia it will be called “столовая”. Russians have dachas, no Americans, except 1-2% rich ones have a separate summer residence.
    5. In has not been adjusted in PPP calculations. Rosstat has stated so. This will be included in the basket and adjusted in the same percentile increase as nominal GDP.
    Now that I understand what he meant by his figures, the total cost can be calculated as 5.3 trillion US dollars for the Russian real estate. This will double all adjustments and Russian economy without even considering shadow economy, will double its GDP, both nominal and PPP. I think American GDP is inflated and they live a lot worse than the Russians.

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  • @leon lentz
    To AK:
    I have read the article to which you provided the link. The author made statements like:
    "прикинуть стоимость жилого фонда находящегося в собственности населения – 2.65 млрд. м2 по среднероссийской цене вторичного рынка 60 т.р. за м2). ". What does it mean? How can 1 square meter cost 60 trillion rubles? If this is the figure counting cost of 1 sq. m. increase for the total population, it will come to the number of 14 dollars a sq. m. which is also ludicrous. The author, whose name isn't immediately clear from the article, is confused about math in general and logic in particular, very typical of journalists.

    Most of his statements which are statistical in nature make no sense at all. Also, if GDP increases on paper, then the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total, and the author says it won't change the growth rates, which is a total nonsense.

    The author states that this adjustment in US resulted in 9% GDP increase, but in US most people either pay rent or mortgage, so hypothetical cost of rent adjustments affect a very small part of the population which has paid their mortgage off. In Russia, the owners who do not pay mortgage or rent constitute well over 90%. This means this adjustment will result in much higher than in US percentage change and significant slowing down of growth percentage-wise.

    Also, the Russian shadow economy is estimated 30% of the total, so, it will be 43% increase when taking this into account. I believe that counting this and the hypothetical rent will double the Russian GDP per capita.

    A conservative estimate, including the renting cost of dachas, will be on the order of 330$ a month per person, a less conservative estimate, will be about 400$ a month, which will translate in a yearly $4-5k increase in the nominal GDP per capita. This is roughly 560-700 billion dollars a year, which is 30%-39% increase in total nominal Russian GDP (of about 1.82 trillion dollars for 2011). If we consider 1.39*1.43 we get roughly 1.99, i.e. almost double increase in nominal GDP and a similar increase in PPP GDP. Considering a more conservative figure, 1.3*1.43 will give about 1.86 GDP increase, which is still almost double. I am not at all sure Rosstat will make these adjustments, certainly not the one with the shadow economy part.

    The point being it will make Russia less attractive to foreign investors, at least on paper. With the crisis which is taking place in Greece and Portugal, the GDP per capita without these adjustments is already higher in Russia, no need to catch up. The 2011 figures did not take this crisis into the account, but the next year ones will.

    (1) “60 т.р. за м2″ obviously means 60,000 rubles. Not trillion LOL.

    (2) If GDP increases by, say, 10% due to this adjustment; then the same year’s growth relative to the whole will increase by only 10% less. So the argument is not illogical.

    (3) At this point, I would also like to mention that 67% of Americans own their own house.

    (4) As I may have pointed out previously, doubling the Russian GDP will practically bring it level with America’s. I can’t believe that one could plausibly argue that the average Russian is as well-off as the average American. For a start just look at the consumption basket. How frequently do Russians visit restaurants? How frequently do they travel abroad?

    (5) While this adjustment will of course increase nominal GDP, I do not know why it would necessarily increase PPP GDP. I think it quite likely that this would have already been taken into account in the 2008 OECD/WB revision that raised Russia’s PPP GDP per capita to about $20,000.

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    • Replies: @Leon Lentz
    1. I thought he was counting total market.
    2. GDP, as I have shown will almost double, so the rates will halve and this is significant. If the GDP goes up by 50%, the rate will go down by 2/3, signiicant change.
    3.67% Americans owning their house doesn't mean they paid off their mortgage. The bank still holds the title. 67% is the figure which includes the ones paying the mortgage, so the adjustment will not touch them.
    4. Russians go abroad more frequently, only wealthy Americans can afford it.
    Concerning restaurants: in US, they call everything restaurant, in Russia it will be called "столовая". Russians have dachas, no Americans, except 1-2% rich ones have a separate summer residence.
    5. In has not been adjusted in PPP calculations. Rosstat has stated so. This will be included in the basket and adjusted in the same percentile increase as nominal GDP.
    Now that I understand what he meant by his figures, the total cost can be calculated as 5.3 trillion US dollars for the Russian real estate. This will double all adjustments and Russian economy without even considering shadow economy, will double its GDP, both nominal and PPP. I think American GDP is inflated and they live a lot worse than the Russians.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @leon lentz
    One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-1000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.

    An alternative calculation: the cost of real estate in Russia is about 2.5 $ trillion, the mortgage rate varies between the nominal of 12.5% and the actual of 20% and above. Lets take a low estimate of 12.5% and obtain a yearly figure of 312$ bln. The high figure is then 500$ bln. Assuming that rents are 50% higher than mortgages, we come to 465$ bln-750$ bln range which is not that different from calculations we presented above. This gives us 26%-43% range. Multiplying this by the shadow economy estimate coefficient of 1.43, we will get 1.8-2.04 range. This means that the PPP GDP per capita in Russia, assuming the base figure of 21.4$k in the article linked to by AK above, is 38.52$k-43.656$k. The US PPP GDP per capita is listed as 48$k, but I doubt the actual figure is even 80% as high. Also, the Ginnie index in US, at 50, being barbarically close to that of African jungle countries, means that most people in US are poor and a few are rich, providing an abysmal picture for this totalitarian fascist decaying entity.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @leon lentz
    One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-1000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.

    correction: One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-10000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @leon lentz
    To AK:
    I have read the article to which you provided the link. The author made statements like:
    "прикинуть стоимость жилого фонда находящегося в собственности населения – 2.65 млрд. м2 по среднероссийской цене вторичного рынка 60 т.р. за м2). ". What does it mean? How can 1 square meter cost 60 trillion rubles? If this is the figure counting cost of 1 sq. m. increase for the total population, it will come to the number of 14 dollars a sq. m. which is also ludicrous. The author, whose name isn't immediately clear from the article, is confused about math in general and logic in particular, very typical of journalists.

    Most of his statements which are statistical in nature make no sense at all. Also, if GDP increases on paper, then the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total, and the author says it won't change the growth rates, which is a total nonsense.

    The author states that this adjustment in US resulted in 9% GDP increase, but in US most people either pay rent or mortgage, so hypothetical cost of rent adjustments affect a very small part of the population which has paid their mortgage off. In Russia, the owners who do not pay mortgage or rent constitute well over 90%. This means this adjustment will result in much higher than in US percentage change and significant slowing down of growth percentage-wise.

    Also, the Russian shadow economy is estimated 30% of the total, so, it will be 43% increase when taking this into account. I believe that counting this and the hypothetical rent will double the Russian GDP per capita.

    A conservative estimate, including the renting cost of dachas, will be on the order of 330$ a month per person, a less conservative estimate, will be about 400$ a month, which will translate in a yearly $4-5k increase in the nominal GDP per capita. This is roughly 560-700 billion dollars a year, which is 30%-39% increase in total nominal Russian GDP (of about 1.82 trillion dollars for 2011). If we consider 1.39*1.43 we get roughly 1.99, i.e. almost double increase in nominal GDP and a similar increase in PPP GDP. Considering a more conservative figure, 1.3*1.43 will give about 1.86 GDP increase, which is still almost double. I am not at all sure Rosstat will make these adjustments, certainly not the one with the shadow economy part.

    The point being it will make Russia less attractive to foreign investors, at least on paper. With the crisis which is taking place in Greece and Portugal, the GDP per capita without these adjustments is already higher in Russia, no need to catch up. The 2011 figures did not take this crisis into the account, but the next year ones will.

    One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-1000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.

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    • Replies: @leon lentz
    correction: One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-10000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.
    , @leon lentz
    An alternative calculation: the cost of real estate in Russia is about 2.5 $ trillion, the mortgage rate varies between the nominal of 12.5% and the actual of 20% and above. Lets take a low estimate of 12.5% and obtain a yearly figure of 312$ bln. The high figure is then 500$ bln. Assuming that rents are 50% higher than mortgages, we come to 465$ bln-750$ bln range which is not that different from calculations we presented above. This gives us 26%-43% range. Multiplying this by the shadow economy estimate coefficient of 1.43, we will get 1.8-2.04 range. This means that the PPP GDP per capita in Russia, assuming the base figure of 21.4$k in the article linked to by AK above, is 38.52$k-43.656$k. The US PPP GDP per capita is listed as 48$k, but I doubt the actual figure is even 80% as high. Also, the Ginnie index in US, at 50, being barbarically close to that of African jungle countries, means that most people in US are poor and a few are rich, providing an abysmal picture for this totalitarian fascist decaying entity.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Okay, you're right on 2013; I didn't correctly remember another article I read.

    http://zhu-s.livejournal.com/195177.html

    Still, I'd note that even at best, the adjustment wouldn't take Russia past the EU or the US; it will only converge with Greece and Portugal.

    That is also assuming that the big upwards OECD adjustment to GDP (PPP) of 2008 didn't take Russia's low housing costs into account, which I think is quite unlikely.

    To AK:
    I have read the article to which you provided the link. The author made statements like:
    “прикинуть стоимость жилого фонда находящегося в собственности населения – 2.65 млрд. м2 по среднероссийской цене вторичного рынка 60 т.р. за м2). “. What does it mean? How can 1 square meter cost 60 trillion rubles? If this is the figure counting cost of 1 sq. m. increase for the total population, it will come to the number of 14 dollars a sq. m. which is also ludicrous. The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article, is confused about math in general and logic in particular, very typical of journalists.

    Most of his statements which are statistical in nature make no sense at all. Also, if GDP increases on paper, then the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total, and the author says it won’t change the growth rates, which is a total nonsense.

    The author states that this adjustment in US resulted in 9% GDP increase, but in US most people either pay rent or mortgage, so hypothetical cost of rent adjustments affect a very small part of the population which has paid their mortgage off. In Russia, the owners who do not pay mortgage or rent constitute well over 90%. This means this adjustment will result in much higher than in US percentage change and significant slowing down of growth percentage-wise.

    Also, the Russian shadow economy is estimated 30% of the total, so, it will be 43% increase when taking this into account. I believe that counting this and the hypothetical rent will double the Russian GDP per capita.

    A conservative estimate, including the renting cost of dachas, will be on the order of 330$ a month per person, a less conservative estimate, will be about 400$ a month, which will translate in a yearly $4-5k increase in the nominal GDP per capita. This is roughly 560-700 billion dollars a year, which is 30%-39% increase in total nominal Russian GDP (of about 1.82 trillion dollars for 2011). If we consider 1.39*1.43 we get roughly 1.99, i.e. almost double increase in nominal GDP and a similar increase in PPP GDP. Considering a more conservative figure, 1.3*1.43 will give about 1.86 GDP increase, which is still almost double. I am not at all sure Rosstat will make these adjustments, certainly not the one with the shadow economy part.

    The point being it will make Russia less attractive to foreign investors, at least on paper. With the crisis which is taking place in Greece and Portugal, the GDP per capita without these adjustments is already higher in Russia, no need to catch up. The 2011 figures did not take this crisis into the account, but the next year ones will.

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    • Replies: @leon lentz
    One more remark: the typical cost of 1 square meter of apartment in Moscow ranges 5000-1000$, and it is similar in St.Petersburg. The rent varies and is typically 1000-3000$ per month for 1-2 bedroom very modest apartment, and it can be ten times that for a 2-3 bedroom apartment in a good location.. It is cheaper in many other cities but is quite high relative to the income. I would estimate the average being as the one in the post above.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    (1) "60 т.р. за м2" obviously means 60,000 rubles. Not trillion LOL.

    (2) If GDP increases by, say, 10% due to this adjustment; then the same year's growth relative to the whole will increase by only 10% less. So the argument is not illogical.

    (3) At this point, I would also like to mention that 67% of Americans own their own house.

    (4) As I may have pointed out previously, doubling the Russian GDP will practically bring it level with America's. I can't believe that one could plausibly argue that the average Russian is as well-off as the average American. For a start just look at the consumption basket. How frequently do Russians visit restaurants? How frequently do they travel abroad?

    (5) While this adjustment will of course increase nominal GDP, I do not know why it would necessarily increase PPP GDP. I think it quite likely that this would have already been taken into account in the 2008 OECD/WB revision that raised Russia's PPP GDP per capita to about $20,000.

    , @peter

    The author, whose name isn’t immediately clear from the article...
     
    Hint: click the word "Эксперт" on the right edge of the page under the author's photo.

    ... the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total...
     
    Yes, but why would the "yearly increase in absolute terms" stay the same? Try again.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @leon lentz
    to AK. I believe you are not correct. There is no indication that Rosstat made the adjustment to Russia's GDP to align it with the EU hypothetical rent calculation practice. GDP is calculated quarterly and I see no indication that it has been adjusted, moreover, Rosstat has stated explicitly that the adjustment will take at least until 2013 to be introduced. Your statement contradicts to Rosstat itself and some sort of a link is necessary to support the claim that Rosstat somehow did something in a glaring contradiction to its own recent statements. It sounds completely incredible, it is not true, it is not on Rosstat website and to say there has been an adjustment, it has to be on that site.

    Okay, you’re right on 2013; I didn’t correctly remember another article I read.

    http://zhu-s.livejournal.com/195177.html

    Still, I’d note that even at best, the adjustment wouldn’t take Russia past the EU or the US; it will only converge with Greece and Portugal.

    That is also assuming that the big upwards OECD adjustment to GDP (PPP) of 2008 didn’t take Russia’s low housing costs into account, which I think is quite unlikely.

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    • Replies: @leon lentz
    To AK:
    I have read the article to which you provided the link. The author made statements like:
    "прикинуть стоимость жилого фонда находящегося в собственности населения – 2.65 млрд. м2 по среднероссийской цене вторичного рынка 60 т.р. за м2). ". What does it mean? How can 1 square meter cost 60 trillion rubles? If this is the figure counting cost of 1 sq. m. increase for the total population, it will come to the number of 14 dollars a sq. m. which is also ludicrous. The author, whose name isn't immediately clear from the article, is confused about math in general and logic in particular, very typical of journalists.

    Most of his statements which are statistical in nature make no sense at all. Also, if GDP increases on paper, then the same yearly increase in absolute terms will be a smaller percentage of the total, and the author says it won't change the growth rates, which is a total nonsense.

    The author states that this adjustment in US resulted in 9% GDP increase, but in US most people either pay rent or mortgage, so hypothetical cost of rent adjustments affect a very small part of the population which has paid their mortgage off. In Russia, the owners who do not pay mortgage or rent constitute well over 90%. This means this adjustment will result in much higher than in US percentage change and significant slowing down of growth percentage-wise.

    Also, the Russian shadow economy is estimated 30% of the total, so, it will be 43% increase when taking this into account. I believe that counting this and the hypothetical rent will double the Russian GDP per capita.

    A conservative estimate, including the renting cost of dachas, will be on the order of 330$ a month per person, a less conservative estimate, will be about 400$ a month, which will translate in a yearly $4-5k increase in the nominal GDP per capita. This is roughly 560-700 billion dollars a year, which is 30%-39% increase in total nominal Russian GDP (of about 1.82 trillion dollars for 2011). If we consider 1.39*1.43 we get roughly 1.99, i.e. almost double increase in nominal GDP and a similar increase in PPP GDP. Considering a more conservative figure, 1.3*1.43 will give about 1.86 GDP increase, which is still almost double. I am not at all sure Rosstat will make these adjustments, certainly not the one with the shadow economy part.

    The point being it will make Russia less attractive to foreign investors, at least on paper. With the crisis which is taking place in Greece and Portugal, the GDP per capita without these adjustments is already higher in Russia, no need to catch up. The 2011 figures did not take this crisis into the account, but the next year ones will.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • AP says:
    @hoct
    Your explanation is inadequate. The famine of 1932/33 occurred after the Collectivization had been completed. If slaughtering livestock instead of surrendering it to the Soviet state, etc were a primary cause of the famine it should have happened earlier, much closer to the time when the collectivization drive and the resistance to it were at their most intense and not a few years later.

    Inordinate quantities of grain were definitely sucked out from the collective farms. This was the whole purpose of collectivization in the first place. To enable the state to rob the peasants blind in order to finance its many megalomaniac plans with the so acquired 'surpluses'.

    The explanation you give is close to the official Stalinist line of the time, that the crisis was the fault of idling peasants. Of either would-be slackers and parasites who aimed to live at the expense of others (rather ironic when you consider it was an accusation thrown by party bureaucrats at rural agriculturalists), or of politically motivated peasant saboteurs and wreckers. This shows the extrema paranoia and insecurity of the Soviet regime at the time, but has no connection to the real causes of the famine. The peasants were neither so lazy, nor so anti-Soviet that they would rather starve to death than to comply.

    In reality the famine was caused by the fact exorbitant quantities of grain were extracted from the farmers based on idiotic, overly-optimistic prognosis of the yield in a year when there was a real and inescapable drop in actual production. The drop in production itself was caused by a variety of factors including Communist mismanagement; their obsession with the area sown which ultimately led to exhaustion of the land; their inordinate demands on grain which left ever less fodder for the farm animals making cultivation ever more difficult as the number of horses and oxen steadily declined. It had further to do with the demoralization of the much-victimized farmers, and with poor weather. Other factors, like failing to apply for international aid or even acknowledging there was a famine contributed to the depth of the crisis. This is according to the excellent The Years of Hunger by historians RW Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft.

    Also I would note your use of language. You characterize resistance of the peasants as 'brutal' but have no adjective of your own for the forced collectivization. I would rather say it was collectivization drive that was brutal, and also criminal, colonialist, supremacist, filthy, bullheaded and nasty. Resistance to it was on the other hand was heroic, inspiring and tragic. And yes, the behaviour of the Party and the state definitely do 'excuse', or rather justify resistance to it. The state behaved as a mafia, or a foreign conqueror and the populace rightfully and legitimately resisted, the only thing we should be sorry for is that they were not able to prevail. One tidbit of information I will leave you with, the Communists were extremely weary of resorting to using the military against the peasants and preferred to not call it out from its barracks, until some time into the famine when they begun to transport units out of affected areas — for fear the soldiers would side with the peasants, against the authorities.

    Excellent response. It ought to be noted that special laws were aspplied to the Ukrainian SSR that did not apply to other areas of the Soviet Union (though all rural dwellers in Ukraine, including rural Russians, Jews, Bulgarians, etc. not just ethnic Ukrainians, suffered as a result of such laws):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor#The_specific_nature_of_the_famine_in_Ukraine

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    ...In US, a housewife’s labor, cleaning her own house

    This, is simply not true.

    in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting

    This is correct and Rosstat has in fact recently made the same adjustment to Russia's GDP. The increase was of the order of 5%. Appreciable, but not a radical change.

    to AK. I believe you are not correct. There is no indication that Rosstat made the adjustment to Russia’s GDP to align it with the EU hypothetical rent calculation practice. GDP is calculated quarterly and I see no indication that it has been adjusted, moreover, Rosstat has stated explicitly that the adjustment will take at least until 2013 to be introduced. Your statement contradicts to Rosstat itself and some sort of a link is necessary to support the claim that Rosstat somehow did something in a glaring contradiction to its own recent statements. It sounds completely incredible, it is not true, it is not on Rosstat website and to say there has been an adjustment, it has to be on that site.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Okay, you're right on 2013; I didn't correctly remember another article I read.

    http://zhu-s.livejournal.com/195177.html

    Still, I'd note that even at best, the adjustment wouldn't take Russia past the EU or the US; it will only converge with Greece and Portugal.

    That is also assuming that the big upwards OECD adjustment to GDP (PPP) of 2008 didn't take Russia's low housing costs into account, which I think is quite unlikely.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    ...In US, a housewife’s labor, cleaning her own house

    This, is simply not true.

    in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting

    This is correct and Rosstat has in fact recently made the same adjustment to Russia's GDP. The increase was of the order of 5%. Appreciable, but not a radical change.

    TO AK. The average person pays somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 50% of their salary when they rent. Just think how ridiculos 5% figure looks. Russia has one of the highest real estate prices in the world and is highly urbanized, i.e. a larger percentage of people live in a large to medium size cities with very high rent. More than 90% own their dwelling. To suggest that the renters pay 5% of their salary which is on average 700$ and less for renters, (less than 35$ rent a month) is ludicrous. Also, you are confused about what Rosstat has added. Rosstat has not added these rental expenses to their calculations, they added the payment for resident services for everybody. Most people in big cities in Russia get much greater income from renting their dachas and apartments than their salaries.
    If you can back up your statement about Rosstat with links, it would be more credible.

    Concerning US: a large number of Americans claim their home as a place for business, they count expenses for cleaning, car mileage, telephone, etc. as a part of business expense which they take off their taxes. This bogus is counted in GDP.

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  • @leon lentz
    The way US' GDP is computed is a sham, so no serious comparison at the present state of computation is possible. Rosstat has declared that it will take a year to upward adjust Russian income per capita to use European standards for GDP calculations, and it is presently not clear whether it will happen at all, due to the fact that an increased figures for GDP on paper only will make Russian yearly GDP increase lower percentage-wise and, thus, make Russia less attractive to foreign investors. Russia is better off looking as an emerging market while it is actually an advanced and rich economy. In US, a housewife's labor, cleaning her own house, is added to GDP and in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting. If one would make these adjustments to Russian GDP, it will be pretty close to that of US per capita, however, the beautiful nature, culture, ability to walk, political freedom in Russia, vs. oppressive fascist regime in US, make the former a better place to live.

    I would like to make certain corrections to the analysis of the paper: the WWII was a burden borne primarily by Russia, US actually has become richer, selling and speculating on the needs of other countries, both during and after the war. They contributed almost nothing to the war effort, distinguishing themselves by raping all French women and children in Normandy and cowardly performance in the Ardennes. The British, continued German anti Jewish efforts sinking the ships sailing to Palestine, detaining Jewish prisoners in Nazi camps longer than necessary, and attacking Israel in 1948 as a part of Arab Armies staffed with British officers and armed with British weapons and tanks. This certainly skews the picture of comparative US/Russia economies. US simply has not been destroyed economically as the USSR but gained great benefits as a result of WWII.

    Analyzing Czarist economy is not very fruitul here, I will just mention that the February 1917 Revolution was a late coming prerequisite for a meaningful economic development, but the October Revolution and WWI has changed all possibilities fundamentally.

    The most glaring error in the early USSR development was the abolishment of Lenin's NEP by Stalin and the organization of collective farms. Brezhnev should have gone the way of liberalization similar to 1980-today's China, instead, stagnation and State sponsored anti Semitism drained the country of its science cadre and created instability and international tension. Reagan did not win the Cold War, it was lost by the foolishness and naivete of Gorbachev, treason of Yeltsin, but the foundation was laid by Brezhnev's Politburo unthinking conservatism and irrational State anti Semitism.

    …In US, a housewife’s labor, cleaning her own house

    This, is simply not true.

    in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting

    This is correct and Rosstat has in fact recently made the same adjustment to Russia’s GDP. The increase was of the order of 5%. Appreciable, but not a radical change.

    Read More
    • Replies: @leon lentz
    TO AK. The average person pays somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 50% of their salary when they rent. Just think how ridiculos 5% figure looks. Russia has one of the highest real estate prices in the world and is highly urbanized, i.e. a larger percentage of people live in a large to medium size cities with very high rent. More than 90% own their dwelling. To suggest that the renters pay 5% of their salary which is on average 700$ and less for renters, (less than 35$ rent a month) is ludicrous. Also, you are confused about what Rosstat has added. Rosstat has not added these rental expenses to their calculations, they added the payment for resident services for everybody. Most people in big cities in Russia get much greater income from renting their dachas and apartments than their salaries.
    If you can back up your statement about Rosstat with links, it would be more credible.

    Concerning US: a large number of Americans claim their home as a place for business, they count expenses for cleaning, car mileage, telephone, etc. as a part of business expense which they take off their taxes. This bogus is counted in GDP.

    , @leon lentz
    to AK. I believe you are not correct. There is no indication that Rosstat made the adjustment to Russia's GDP to align it with the EU hypothetical rent calculation practice. GDP is calculated quarterly and I see no indication that it has been adjusted, moreover, Rosstat has stated explicitly that the adjustment will take at least until 2013 to be introduced. Your statement contradicts to Rosstat itself and some sort of a link is necessary to support the claim that Rosstat somehow did something in a glaring contradiction to its own recent statements. It sounds completely incredible, it is not true, it is not on Rosstat website and to say there has been an adjustment, it has to be on that site.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • hoct says: • Website
    @kirill
    The famines of the early 1930s were a combination of forced collectivization and the brutal resistance to it. For example, in Ukraine many kurkuls (not kulaks) would burn their fields and kill the livestock rather than giving it all up to the state. The story about all the grain being seized including the seed grain is a fairy tale. Obviously it would have been better if there was no forced collectivization, but that does not excuse the guerrilla tactics of the kurkuls. They contributed to the famine in a primary manner.

    Your explanation is inadequate. The famine of 1932/33 occurred after the Collectivization had been completed. If slaughtering livestock instead of surrendering it to the Soviet state, etc were a primary cause of the famine it should have happened earlier, much closer to the time when the collectivization drive and the resistance to it were at their most intense and not a few years later.

    Inordinate quantities of grain were definitely sucked out from the collective farms. This was the whole purpose of collectivization in the first place. To enable the state to rob the peasants blind in order to finance its many megalomaniac plans with the so acquired ‘surpluses’.

    The explanation you give is close to the official Stalinist line of the time, that the crisis was the fault of idling peasants. Of either would-be slackers and parasites who aimed to live at the expense of others (rather ironic when you consider it was an accusation thrown by party bureaucrats at rural agriculturalists), or of politically motivated peasant saboteurs and wreckers. This shows the extrema paranoia and insecurity of the Soviet regime at the time, but has no connection to the real causes of the famine. The peasants were neither so lazy, nor so anti-Soviet that they would rather starve to death than to comply.

    In reality the famine was caused by the fact exorbitant quantities of grain were extracted from the farmers based on idiotic, overly-optimistic prognosis of the yield in a year when there was a real and inescapable drop in actual production. The drop in production itself was caused by a variety of factors including Communist mismanagement; their obsession with the area sown which ultimately led to exhaustion of the land; their inordinate demands on grain which left ever less fodder for the farm animals making cultivation ever more difficult as the number of horses and oxen steadily declined. It had further to do with the demoralization of the much-victimized farmers, and with poor weather. Other factors, like failing to apply for international aid or even acknowledging there was a famine contributed to the depth of the crisis. This is according to the excellent The Years of Hunger by historians RW Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft.

    Also I would note your use of language. You characterize resistance of the peasants as ‘brutal’ but have no adjective of your own for the forced collectivization. I would rather say it was collectivization drive that was brutal, and also criminal, colonialist, supremacist, filthy, bullheaded and nasty. Resistance to it was on the other hand was heroic, inspiring and tragic. And yes, the behaviour of the Party and the state definitely do ‘excuse’, or rather justify resistance to it. The state behaved as a mafia, or a foreign conqueror and the populace rightfully and legitimately resisted, the only thing we should be sorry for is that they were not able to prevail. One tidbit of information I will leave you with, the Communists were extremely weary of resorting to using the military against the peasants and preferred to not call it out from its barracks, until some time into the famine when they begun to transport units out of affected areas — for fear the soldiers would side with the peasants, against the authorities.

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    • Replies: @AP
    Excellent response. It ought to be noted that special laws were aspplied to the Ukrainian SSR that did not apply to other areas of the Soviet Union (though all rural dwellers in Ukraine, including rural Russians, Jews, Bulgarians, etc. not just ethnic Ukrainians, suffered as a result of such laws):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor#The_specific_nature_of_the_famine_in_Ukraine

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  • @leon lentz
    The way US' GDP is computed is a sham, so no serious comparison at the present state of computation is possible. Rosstat has declared that it will take a year to upward adjust Russian income per capita to use European standards for GDP calculations, and it is presently not clear whether it will happen at all, due to the fact that an increased figures for GDP on paper only will make Russian yearly GDP increase lower percentage-wise and, thus, make Russia less attractive to foreign investors. Russia is better off looking as an emerging market while it is actually an advanced and rich economy. In US, a housewife's labor, cleaning her own house, is added to GDP and in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting. If one would make these adjustments to Russian GDP, it will be pretty close to that of US per capita, however, the beautiful nature, culture, ability to walk, political freedom in Russia, vs. oppressive fascist regime in US, make the former a better place to live.

    I would like to make certain corrections to the analysis of the paper: the WWII was a burden borne primarily by Russia, US actually has become richer, selling and speculating on the needs of other countries, both during and after the war. They contributed almost nothing to the war effort, distinguishing themselves by raping all French women and children in Normandy and cowardly performance in the Ardennes. The British, continued German anti Jewish efforts sinking the ships sailing to Palestine, detaining Jewish prisoners in Nazi camps longer than necessary, and attacking Israel in 1948 as a part of Arab Armies staffed with British officers and armed with British weapons and tanks. This certainly skews the picture of comparative US/Russia economies. US simply has not been destroyed economically as the USSR but gained great benefits as a result of WWII.

    Analyzing Czarist economy is not very fruitul here, I will just mention that the February 1917 Revolution was a late coming prerequisite for a meaningful economic development, but the October Revolution and WWI has changed all possibilities fundamentally.

    The most glaring error in the early USSR development was the abolishment of Lenin's NEP by Stalin and the organization of collective farms. Brezhnev should have gone the way of liberalization similar to 1980-today's China, instead, stagnation and State sponsored anti Semitism drained the country of its science cadre and created instability and international tension. Reagan did not win the Cold War, it was lost by the foolishness and naivete of Gorbachev, treason of Yeltsin, but the foundation was laid by Brezhnev's Politburo unthinking conservatism and irrational State anti Semitism.

    I agree with many of the points you raise. Lend-lease accounted for 4% of the Soviet war materiel. From the way you have it described in the west you would think that the USSR could not have fought Hitler without lend-lease. The forced collectivization imposed by Stalin was an epically pointless exercise. The USSR was urbanizing so some sort of peasant hierarchy in the rural areas was irrelevant. They could have imposed labour relations standards instead of eradicating kulaks and kurkuls as if they were some sort of robber baron elite and not small time farmers that they actually were.

    Shenanigans with the GDP are a real issue when evaluating the economy of the USA. The inflation rate that goes into the GDP deflator has been distorted out of all reason. Even using the methodology from 1991 gives a CPI in the USA of about 6% and not the current 2% that is simply absurd if you look at food price increases (food is 1/3 of the CPI basket). The current measure of CPI has inane “hedonics” adjustments which reduce the price of consumer goods based on feature enhancement. This is a moving goal post problem since a TV is still a TV even if has game ports. So the USA has basically not had any GDP growth for over 15 years out of the past 20 or so and the $15 trillion value is quite easily an overestimation by $4 trillion. This is aside from the house wife example you gave and if you normalize for what is counted and what is not then the difference is even smaller.

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  • @hoct
    The number of people killed by the Soviet state (whether purposefully, through callousness, or through mismanagement) within its borders adds up to about 12.5 million for the Stalin years. The 6 million in the Requisition Famine of 1932/33 (of which 3 million in Ukraine), 1-1.5 million in the famine 1946-57, 2 million dead in the GULag, 0.5 million dead in the repression of the kulaks, 0.5 million dead in the nationality-based deportations, about 1 million executed in the Great Purge, to name the most deadly events.

    The famines of the early 1930s were a combination of forced collectivization and the brutal resistance to it. For example, in Ukraine many kurkuls (not kulaks) would burn their fields and kill the livestock rather than giving it all up to the state. The story about all the grain being seized including the seed grain is a fairy tale. Obviously it would have been better if there was no forced collectivization, but that does not excuse the guerrilla tactics of the kurkuls. They contributed to the famine in a primary manner.

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    • Replies: @hoct
    Your explanation is inadequate. The famine of 1932/33 occurred after the Collectivization had been completed. If slaughtering livestock instead of surrendering it to the Soviet state, etc were a primary cause of the famine it should have happened earlier, much closer to the time when the collectivization drive and the resistance to it were at their most intense and not a few years later.

    Inordinate quantities of grain were definitely sucked out from the collective farms. This was the whole purpose of collectivization in the first place. To enable the state to rob the peasants blind in order to finance its many megalomaniac plans with the so acquired 'surpluses'.

    The explanation you give is close to the official Stalinist line of the time, that the crisis was the fault of idling peasants. Of either would-be slackers and parasites who aimed to live at the expense of others (rather ironic when you consider it was an accusation thrown by party bureaucrats at rural agriculturalists), or of politically motivated peasant saboteurs and wreckers. This shows the extrema paranoia and insecurity of the Soviet regime at the time, but has no connection to the real causes of the famine. The peasants were neither so lazy, nor so anti-Soviet that they would rather starve to death than to comply.

    In reality the famine was caused by the fact exorbitant quantities of grain were extracted from the farmers based on idiotic, overly-optimistic prognosis of the yield in a year when there was a real and inescapable drop in actual production. The drop in production itself was caused by a variety of factors including Communist mismanagement; their obsession with the area sown which ultimately led to exhaustion of the land; their inordinate demands on grain which left ever less fodder for the farm animals making cultivation ever more difficult as the number of horses and oxen steadily declined. It had further to do with the demoralization of the much-victimized farmers, and with poor weather. Other factors, like failing to apply for international aid or even acknowledging there was a famine contributed to the depth of the crisis. This is according to the excellent The Years of Hunger by historians RW Davies and Stephen Wheatcroft.

    Also I would note your use of language. You characterize resistance of the peasants as 'brutal' but have no adjective of your own for the forced collectivization. I would rather say it was collectivization drive that was brutal, and also criminal, colonialist, supremacist, filthy, bullheaded and nasty. Resistance to it was on the other hand was heroic, inspiring and tragic. And yes, the behaviour of the Party and the state definitely do 'excuse', or rather justify resistance to it. The state behaved as a mafia, or a foreign conqueror and the populace rightfully and legitimately resisted, the only thing we should be sorry for is that they were not able to prevail. One tidbit of information I will leave you with, the Communists were extremely weary of resorting to using the military against the peasants and preferred to not call it out from its barracks, until some time into the famine when they begun to transport units out of affected areas — for fear the soldiers would side with the peasants, against the authorities.

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  • One of my cousins was a Professor specializing in Nabokov. Nabokov is very intelligent, definitely Russian, but he and Bunin are on the side diametrically opposite to the 19th century Russian authors, as well as to Bulgakov and Dovlatov. They are stylistically and intellectually perfect, but you are left with a feeling that you went through a hard work when you are done. Dostoyevsky is a bit this way, but he is definitely worth it. I guess, it is a matter of Sofocles-like existentialism of the latter, vs intellectual mosaic of the former two, they can be compared to a rather inferior example of Hermann Hesse.

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  • @hoct
    The number of people killed by the Soviet state (whether purposefully, through callousness, or through mismanagement) within its borders adds up to about 12.5 million for the Stalin years. The 6 million in the Requisition Famine of 1932/33 (of which 3 million in Ukraine), 1-1.5 million in the famine 1946-57, 2 million dead in the GULag, 0.5 million dead in the repression of the kulaks, 0.5 million dead in the nationality-based deportations, about 1 million executed in the Great Purge, to name the most deadly events.

    This is a typical propaganda. I would estimate the number of killed as 700k and most of them were Russian Orthodox priests, White forces sympathizers, etc. One should not count the Civil War casualties, they were provoked by all sides, especially since Stalin wasn’t in power. I would agree that Stalin was an incredible scum, but so were Roosevelt and Churchill (and Obama&Bush)

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  • The way US’ GDP is computed is a sham, so no serious comparison at the present state of computation is possible. Rosstat has declared that it will take a year to upward adjust Russian income per capita to use European standards for GDP calculations, and it is presently not clear whether it will happen at all, due to the fact that an increased figures for GDP on paper only will make Russian yearly GDP increase lower percentage-wise and, thus, make Russia less attractive to foreign investors. Russia is better off looking as an emerging market while it is actually an advanced and rich economy. In US, a housewife’s labor, cleaning her own house, is added to GDP and in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting. If one would make these adjustments to Russian GDP, it will be pretty close to that of US per capita, however, the beautiful nature, culture, ability to walk, political freedom in Russia, vs. oppressive fascist regime in US, make the former a better place to live.

    I would like to make certain corrections to the analysis of the paper: the WWII was a burden borne primarily by Russia, US actually has become richer, selling and speculating on the needs of other countries, both during and after the war. They contributed almost nothing to the war effort, distinguishing themselves by raping all French women and children in Normandy and cowardly performance in the Ardennes. The British, continued German anti Jewish efforts sinking the ships sailing to Palestine, detaining Jewish prisoners in Nazi camps longer than necessary, and attacking Israel in 1948 as a part of Arab Armies staffed with British officers and armed with British weapons and tanks. This certainly skews the picture of comparative US/Russia economies. US simply has not been destroyed economically as the USSR but gained great benefits as a result of WWII.

    Analyzing Czarist economy is not very fruitul here, I will just mention that the February 1917 Revolution was a late coming prerequisite for a meaningful economic development, but the October Revolution and WWI has changed all possibilities fundamentally.

    The most glaring error in the early USSR development was the abolishment of Lenin’s NEP by Stalin and the organization of collective farms. Brezhnev should have gone the way of liberalization similar to 1980-today’s China, instead, stagnation and State sponsored anti Semitism drained the country of its science cadre and created instability and international tension. Reagan did not win the Cold War, it was lost by the foolishness and naivete of Gorbachev, treason of Yeltsin, but the foundation was laid by Brezhnev’s Politburo unthinking conservatism and irrational State anti Semitism.

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    • Replies: @kirill
    I agree with many of the points you raise. Lend-lease accounted for 4% of the Soviet war materiel. From the way you have it described in the west you would think that the USSR could not have fought Hitler without lend-lease. The forced collectivization imposed by Stalin was an epically pointless exercise. The USSR was urbanizing so some sort of peasant hierarchy in the rural areas was irrelevant. They could have imposed labour relations standards instead of eradicating kulaks and kurkuls as if they were some sort of robber baron elite and not small time farmers that they actually were.

    Shenanigans with the GDP are a real issue when evaluating the economy of the USA. The inflation rate that goes into the GDP deflator has been distorted out of all reason. Even using the methodology from 1991 gives a CPI in the USA of about 6% and not the current 2% that is simply absurd if you look at food price increases (food is 1/3 of the CPI basket). The current measure of CPI has inane "hedonics" adjustments which reduce the price of consumer goods based on feature enhancement. This is a moving goal post problem since a TV is still a TV even if has game ports. So the USA has basically not had any GDP growth for over 15 years out of the past 20 or so and the $15 trillion value is quite easily an overestimation by $4 trillion. This is aside from the house wife example you gave and if you normalize for what is counted and what is not then the difference is even smaller.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    ...In US, a housewife’s labor, cleaning her own house

    This, is simply not true.

    in Europe they would add to your GDP a mortgage one would pay if they were renting, not owning in case you actually are owning the real estate and not renting

    This is correct and Rosstat has in fact recently made the same adjustment to Russia's GDP. The increase was of the order of 5%. Appreciable, but not a radical change.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Dear AP,

    Of course I realise it was not a personal list. In fact I was being ever so slightly mischievous in my reply. Please forgive me.

    There actually is no very great difference between us. I would hesitate to call Bulgakov a “tsarist” writer but when you say that nineteenth Russian literature was second to none I of course agree. Let’s leave it at that.

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  • hoct says: • Website
    @AP
    I'm not goinmg to argue economics; it's not something I am qualified to argue about. A couple of quibbles:

    "Soviet leaders killed hundreds of thousands of people"

    The artificial famines killed about 5-6 million throughout the USSR. Taking into account the children and grandchildren these millions did not have, the result is those lands probably have at least 30 million fewer people than they would have had otherwise.

    "despite occasional bans and persecutions maintained the country’s cultural level at the already impossibly high level it had achieved under the tsar"

    Not exacfly. The Revolution seems to have basically killed off the Silver Age of Russian culture. The best writers were either persecuted and censored (Bulgakov) or fled West (Nabakov). Culture did not collapse but it was signifcintly hampered.

    You made some excellent points. about the Soviet Union spurring the West to do better. Of course, Nazism probably wouldn't have come to power without the threat of Bolshevism, so the influence on the West wasn't entirely positive.

    The number of people killed by the Soviet state (whether purposefully, through callousness, or through mismanagement) within its borders adds up to about 12.5 million for the Stalin years. The 6 million in the Requisition Famine of 1932/33 (of which 3 million in Ukraine), 1-1.5 million in the famine 1946-57, 2 million dead in the GULag, 0.5 million dead in the repression of the kulaks, 0.5 million dead in the nationality-based deportations, about 1 million executed in the Great Purge, to name the most deadly events.

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    • Replies: @leon lentz
    This is a typical propaganda. I would estimate the number of killed as 700k and most of them were Russian Orthodox priests, White forces sympathizers, etc. One should not count the Civil War casualties, they were provoked by all sides, especially since Stalin wasn't in power. I would agree that Stalin was an incredible scum, but so were Roosevelt and Churchill (and Obama&Bush)
    , @kirill
    The famines of the early 1930s were a combination of forced collectivization and the brutal resistance to it. For example, in Ukraine many kurkuls (not kulaks) would burn their fields and kill the livestock rather than giving it all up to the state. The story about all the grain being seized including the seed grain is a fairy tale. Obviously it would have been better if there was no forced collectivization, but that does not excuse the guerrilla tactics of the kurkuls. They contributed to the famine in a primary manner.
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  • AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Alexander – The list I posted wasn’t a personal list but one compiled by 125 leading authors. Of course everyone has their own taste, but speaking generally during the latter time of the Tsars, Russian literature is generally regarded as second to none, after the Revolution it largely disappears (also Bulgakov counts as Tsarist-era literature; this is when he began writing and he was a censored dissidant under the Bolshevik regime). If Turgenmev was added, this would add to Russia’s 19th century total. Many of the writers you list are from the 20th century; if they were added to the list or Nabakov removed this would further show the disappearance of Russia from the literature scene in the 20th century, following the Revolution.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Dear AP,

    One list of many as you say. For example it omits Les Miserables, Wuthering Heights, Vanity Fair, the Idiot, all of Balzac and Turgenev, the Mill on the Floss, Bleak House and the Picture of Dorian Gray amongst nineteenth century novels and puts Lolita first amongst twentieth century novels and Pale Fire tenth.

    I cannot possibly agree with the last two. I personally think Nabokov clever but overrated. I didn’t like Lolita at all. As for Pale Fire by a strange coincidence one of my best friends who is an English Literature lecturer was recently teaching it, which is how I came across it. I thought it very clever but ridiculously affected. No way amongst twentieth century literature would I ever put those two novels amongst the top ten. Why not amongst Russians St. Petersburg by Bely (I am currently reading it) and the works of Bulgakov, Sholokhov and Bunin? Then again there’s D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Wolf, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka, Celine and Sartre and Camus and heaps of others.

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  • AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Alex:

    A random assessent of great literature:

    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/01/30/writers-top-ten-favorite-books/

    Four out of ten of the greatest books in the 19th century were written by Russians. No other country had as many. In the 20th century only two of the best books were by a Russian author – and he was non-Soviet.

    That is just one list of course…

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  • @yalensis
    P.S. Sorry for any confusion, @Alexander, the above was not a reply to you, but to these various alt-historical scenarios, like, would Hitler have come to power if German industrialists didn't fear commies so much, that sort of thing.
    Remember that you and I have a pact, Once time machines are invented, we will go back in time to meet your lady actress friend, Orlova in Moscow in the 1930's. While there, the 3 of us might as well swing over to Berlin to assassinate Hitler.

    Perfect! Thank you for remember kind Yalensis!

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  • @AP
    Tauger's view of the famine is a minority one, and later research seems to support that it was artifical (see Snyder's work). The death toll, however, has been revised downward significantly from earlier claims of 7 or even 10 million and is now in the 2.5 -3 million range within Ukraine.

    The USSR did indeed maintain a very high level of culture - but not as high as it had been in the Tsarist period, during which Russia was a center of culture in Europe. Modern theater - the Stanislavsky method - was born in Tsarist Russia; Tsarist Russia produced more of the greatest novels than any other country during the 19th century; by the late 19th/.early 20th century it was equal to all countries in its production to classicial music, etc. In terms of art - Kandinsky and Malevich aren't my thing (there was also Chagal) but post-Revolution nobody of that stature emerged from the USSR. Compare the masterpieces in the old Tretyakov gallery with Soviet-era works. The USSR had great theater and ballet companies but was never on the Tsarist level.

    Dear AP,

    Just one brief, final comment. One area about which I do speak with some authority is ballet, which has been an obsession in my family ever since my grandfather saw the Ballet Russe in Paris just after the First World War. Here I have to take strong issue with your comment that ballet in the USSR was below the standard it achieved in the tsar’s time. On the contrary the Soviets took the tsarist ballet and pushed it far beyond anything that had been achieved or was even thought possibe under the tsar. They also of course popularised it in a way that the tsarist regime, for whom it was essentially a court entertainment, would never have done. In the process the Soviets transformed completely the whole conception of ballet as an art. By the way there are films of tsarist era dancers and of every succeeding generation of Russian and Soviet dancers thereafter so it is fully possible to make comparisons between what was achieved then and later. Even what we think of as tsarist ballet classics like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake were thoroughly reworked and rechoreographed by the Soviets and it is in that form that we know them today even in the west.

    The one point I would make is that after a frightful wobble during the 1990s Russian ballet has completely recovered and is today arguably better than it has ever been at least in the standard of performance though there are still fewer new ballets being made than was the case before. That shows that Russian ballet does not depend on the Soviet system. However that the Soviets in the field of ballet greatly improved on what the tsar did is not I think arguable.

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  • @yalensis
    True. And if that doddering old lady in Fort Lauderdale had managed to push the chad all the way thru the punched card when she voted, then maybe Al Gore would have been Prez of the USA, and maybe he would have done something to stop climate change. But she didn't, and he didn't, so I guess we're screwed. I blame it all on Stalin.

    P.S. Sorry for any confusion, @Alexander, the above was not a reply to you, but to these various alt-historical scenarios, like, would Hitler have come to power if German industrialists didn’t fear commies so much, that sort of thing.
    Remember that you and I have a pact, Once time machines are invented, we will go back in time to meet your lady actress friend, Orlova in Moscow in the 1930′s. While there, the 3 of us might as well swing over to Berlin to assassinate Hitler.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Perfect! Thank you for remember kind Yalensis!
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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    AP is historically correct.

    The Nazis only came to power via very small margins. It is in fact quite probable that without the Communist factor - one that at the time was undergoing collectivization, to boot - they would not have have cleared the hurdle. Even if they did, they might well have more closely resembled the largely non-genocidal fascists like those in Italy or Spain than the Nazis we know and hate.

    Of course, the Nazis coming to power isn't Communism's or the USSR's "fault", as some crazy people have tried to argue. That's not the same however that arguing that it without it Nazism wouldn't have come to power or at least have been as virulent.

    True. And if that doddering old lady in Fort Lauderdale had managed to push the chad all the way thru the punched card when she voted, then maybe Al Gore would have been Prez of the USA, and maybe he would have done something to stop climate change. But she didn’t, and he didn’t, so I guess we’re screwed. I blame it all on Stalin.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    P.S. Sorry for any confusion, @Alexander, the above was not a reply to you, but to these various alt-historical scenarios, like, would Hitler have come to power if German industrialists didn't fear commies so much, that sort of thing.
    Remember that you and I have a pact, Once time machines are invented, we will go back in time to meet your lady actress friend, Orlova in Moscow in the 1930's. While there, the 3 of us might as well swing over to Berlin to assassinate Hitler.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Dear AK and AP,

    Just thinking about it, viz the comment that Russian culture was preserved at its level of the Silver Age, is that really fair? Without getting bogged down into details, weren’t there great achievements in film and music etc? I understand there’s recently been a reassessment of Soviet architecture with the architecture of the Stalinist period rated today as a creative adaptation of art deco. Also no one can deny that the standard of the performing arts (including theatre) was maintained at a very high level, probably higher than elsewhere in Europe. As for socialist realism in painting and sculpture, at least it represented an alternative to modernism, whose grip in the west has become increasingly oppressive since it achieved its current dominance in the 1940s. That might explain by the way why I understand that genuine Soviet socialist realist paintings now fetch very high prices on the London art market.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    Dear AP,

    I don’t think Tauger’s view is a minority one in academic scholarship but let’s agree to disagree on the subject. Just to clarify, when Tauger says that the famine was not “artificial” he does not mean that government policies were not responsible for it. What he and those who agree with him mean is that the famine was not planned or genocidal.

    I have to say I couldn’t help but chuckle at your comment that nineteenth century Russia “produced more of the greatest novels than any other European country”. There are English and French scholars by the myriad who would certainly take issue with that!

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    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I am afraid I missed the famine of 1933. A big omission I know but given the speed of my dash through modern Russian history I suppose it was inevitable that I would miss something.

    By the way though I know there are many in the Ukraine who passionately believe otherwise the weight of academic scholarship has been moving strongly against the famine having been artificial for some time. See for example the following article by Tauger from 1991.

    http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20'The%201932%20Harvest%20and%20the%20Famine%20of%201933,%20SR%2091.pdf

    As to your comments about Russian culture, this is precisely the sort of area where there is going to be a difference in perception between a Russian and a non Russian. To a non Russian like me it appears that for all the difficulties the general level of culture was maintained at an extremely high level throughout the period.

    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920′s but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn’t compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive — and then ask, “Seriously?” Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the “Seriously?” question.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I don't think Tauger's view is a minority one in academic scholarship but let's agree to disagree on the subject. Just to clarify, when Tauger says that the famine was not "artificial" he does not mean that government policies were not responsible for it. What he and those who agree with him mean is that the famine was not planned or genocidal.

    I have to say I couldn't help but chuckle at your comment that nineteenth century Russia "produced more of the greatest novels than any other European country". There are English and French scholars by the myriad who would certainly take issue with that!

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AK and AP,

    Just thinking about it, viz the comment that Russian culture was preserved at its level of the Silver Age, is that really fair? Without getting bogged down into details, weren't there great achievements in film and music etc? I understand there's recently been a reassessment of Soviet architecture with the architecture of the Stalinist period rated today as a creative adaptation of art deco. Also no one can deny that the standard of the performing arts (including theatre) was maintained at a very high level, probably higher than elsewhere in Europe. As for socialist realism in painting and sculpture, at least it represented an alternative to modernism, whose grip in the west has become increasingly oppressive since it achieved its current dominance in the 1940s. That might explain by the way why I understand that genuine Soviet socialist realist paintings now fetch very high prices on the London art market.

    , @AP
    Alex:

    A random assessent of great literature:

    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/01/30/writers-top-ten-favorite-books/

    Four out of ten of the greatest books in the 19th century were written by Russians. No other country had as many. In the 20th century only two of the best books were by a Russian author - and he was non-Soviet.

    That is just one list of course...

    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    One list of many as you say. For example it omits Les Miserables, Wuthering Heights, Vanity Fair, the Idiot, all of Balzac and Turgenev, the Mill on the Floss, Bleak House and the Picture of Dorian Gray amongst nineteenth century novels and puts Lolita first amongst twentieth century novels and Pale Fire tenth.

    I cannot possibly agree with the last two. I personally think Nabokov clever but overrated. I didn't like Lolita at all. As for Pale Fire by a strange coincidence one of my best friends who is an English Literature lecturer was recently teaching it, which is how I came across it. I thought it very clever but ridiculously affected. No way amongst twentieth century literature would I ever put those two novels amongst the top ten. Why not amongst Russians St. Petersburg by Bely (I am currently reading it) and the works of Bulgakov, Sholokhov and Bunin? Then again there's D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Wolf, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka, Celine and Sartre and Camus and heaps of others.

    , @AP
    Alexander - The list I posted wasn't a personal list but one compiled by 125 leading authors. Of course everyone has their own taste, but speaking generally during the latter time of the Tsars, Russian literature is generally regarded as second to none, after the Revolution it largely disappears (also Bulgakov counts as Tsarist-era literature; this is when he began writing and he was a censored dissidant under the Bolshevik regime). If Turgenmev was added, this would add to Russia's 19th century total. Many of the writers you list are from the 20th century; if they were added to the list or Nabakov removed this would further show the disappearance of Russia from the literature scene in the 20th century, following the Revolution.
    , @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    Of course I realise it was not a personal list. In fact I was being ever so slightly mischievous in my reply. Please forgive me.

    There actually is no very great difference between us. I would hesitate to call Bulgakov a "tsarist" writer but when you say that nineteenth Russian literature was second to none I of course agree. Let's leave it at that.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • AP says:
    @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I am afraid I missed the famine of 1933. A big omission I know but given the speed of my dash through modern Russian history I suppose it was inevitable that I would miss something.

    By the way though I know there are many in the Ukraine who passionately believe otherwise the weight of academic scholarship has been moving strongly against the famine having been artificial for some time. See for example the following article by Tauger from 1991.

    http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20'The%201932%20Harvest%20and%20the%20Famine%20of%201933,%20SR%2091.pdf

    As to your comments about Russian culture, this is precisely the sort of area where there is going to be a difference in perception between a Russian and a non Russian. To a non Russian like me it appears that for all the difficulties the general level of culture was maintained at an extremely high level throughout the period.

    Tauger’s view of the famine is a minority one, and later research seems to support that it was artifical (see Snyder’s work). The death toll, however, has been revised downward significantly from earlier claims of 7 or even 10 million and is now in the 2.5 -3 million range within Ukraine.

    The USSR did indeed maintain a very high level of culture – but not as high as it had been in the Tsarist period, during which Russia was a center of culture in Europe. Modern theater – the Stanislavsky method – was born in Tsarist Russia; Tsarist Russia produced more of the greatest novels than any other country during the 19th century; by the late 19th/.early 20th century it was equal to all countries in its production to classicial music, etc. In terms of art – Kandinsky and Malevich aren’t my thing (there was also Chagal) but post-Revolution nobody of that stature emerged from the USSR. Compare the masterpieces in the old Tretyakov gallery with Soviet-era works. The USSR had great theater and ballet companies but was never on the Tsarist level.

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    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    Just one brief, final comment. One area about which I do speak with some authority is ballet, which has been an obsession in my family ever since my grandfather saw the Ballet Russe in Paris just after the First World War. Here I have to take strong issue with your comment that ballet in the USSR was below the standard it achieved in the tsar's time. On the contrary the Soviets took the tsarist ballet and pushed it far beyond anything that had been achieved or was even thought possibe under the tsar. They also of course popularised it in a way that the tsarist regime, for whom it was essentially a court entertainment, would never have done. In the process the Soviets transformed completely the whole conception of ballet as an art. By the way there are films of tsarist era dancers and of every succeeding generation of Russian and Soviet dancers thereafter so it is fully possible to make comparisons between what was achieved then and later. Even what we think of as tsarist ballet classics like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake were thoroughly reworked and rechoreographed by the Soviets and it is in that form that we know them today even in the west.

    The one point I would make is that after a frightful wobble during the 1990s Russian ballet has completely recovered and is today arguably better than it has ever been at least in the standard of performance though there are still fewer new ballets being made than was the case before. That shows that Russian ballet does not depend on the Soviet system. However that the Soviets in the field of ballet greatly improved on what the tsar did is not I think arguable.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @Anatoly Karlin
    AP is historically correct.

    The Nazis only came to power via very small margins. It is in fact quite probable that without the Communist factor - one that at the time was undergoing collectivization, to boot - they would not have have cleared the hurdle. Even if they did, they might well have more closely resembled the largely non-genocidal fascists like those in Italy or Spain than the Nazis we know and hate.

    Of course, the Nazis coming to power isn't Communism's or the USSR's "fault", as some crazy people have tried to argue. That's not the same however that arguing that it without it Nazism wouldn't have come to power or at least have been as virulent.

    Dear AP,

    I am afraid I missed the famine of 1933. A big omission I know but given the speed of my dash through modern Russian history I suppose it was inevitable that I would miss something.

    By the way though I know there are many in the Ukraine who passionately believe otherwise the weight of academic scholarship has been moving strongly against the famine having been artificial for some time. See for example the following article by Tauger from 1991.

    http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20′The%201932%20Harvest%20and%20the%20Famine%20of%201933,%20SR%2091.pdf

    As to your comments about Russian culture, this is precisely the sort of area where there is going to be a difference in perception between a Russian and a non Russian. To a non Russian like me it appears that for all the difficulties the general level of culture was maintained at an extremely high level throughout the period.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Tauger's view of the famine is a minority one, and later research seems to support that it was artifical (see Snyder's work). The death toll, however, has been revised downward significantly from earlier claims of 7 or even 10 million and is now in the 2.5 -3 million range within Ukraine.

    The USSR did indeed maintain a very high level of culture - but not as high as it had been in the Tsarist period, during which Russia was a center of culture in Europe. Modern theater - the Stanislavsky method - was born in Tsarist Russia; Tsarist Russia produced more of the greatest novels than any other country during the 19th century; by the late 19th/.early 20th century it was equal to all countries in its production to classicial music, etc. In terms of art - Kandinsky and Malevich aren't my thing (there was also Chagal) but post-Revolution nobody of that stature emerged from the USSR. Compare the masterpieces in the old Tretyakov gallery with Soviet-era works. The USSR had great theater and ballet companies but was never on the Tsarist level.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Again, I have to say that I mostly agree with AP.

    (1) The death toll is indeed around 2.5mn because that is the excess mortality one can calculate just by looking at annual mortality statistics.

    (2) It was an artificial famine, though I do not buy nationalist arguments that it had genocidal intentions; after all, it was just as bad in the Volga regions.

    (3) Soviet culture remained in a kind of stasis, preserving Silver Age classics but doing little to extend them. There was still a flame of creativity in the 1920's but then it petered out. Socialist realism just doesn't compare.

    That said, there are valid questions as to what extent it was just a Russia / Communist as opposed to global thing. After all, the vague but commonplace feeling is that Great Art of all kinds has been on the decline in the past few generations, and a more formal investigation conducted by Murray seems to support this view:

    Q. You found that per capita levels of accomplishment tended to decline from 1850 to 1950. Would you care to speculate on post-1950 trends?

    A. I think that the number of novels, songs, and paintings done since 1950 that anyone will still care about 200 years from now is somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Not exactly zero, but close. I find a good way to make this point is to ask anyone who disagrees with me to name a work that will survive -- and then ask, "Seriously?" Very few works indeed can defend themselves against the "Seriously?" question.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @yalensis
    I would have thought Nazis were more spurred on by Western "democracies", the way they treated Germany post WWI, the reparations, and so on. Hence, I personally believe Nazism can be blamed to actions of capitalist "democracies", not so much Bolsheviks.
    In any case, these historical "what-ifs" are kind of pointless. Unless and until some scientist invents a machine to rewind history and try out alternative historical scenarios à la James Stewart "It's a wonderful life" ("Okay, push that button over there, and let's see what happens if there was no Bolshevik Revolution in 1917"), then this is all just pointless. Some say, "Things would have been just awful," and others say, "No, things would have been just great," but neither side could prove anything. Lke that old Russian proverb: "If my aunt had had a penis, then she'd be my uncle."

    AP is historically correct.

    The Nazis only came to power via very small margins. It is in fact quite probable that without the Communist factor – one that at the time was undergoing collectivization, to boot – they would not have have cleared the hurdle. Even if they did, they might well have more closely resembled the largely non-genocidal fascists like those in Italy or Spain than the Nazis we know and hate.

    Of course, the Nazis coming to power isn’t Communism’s or the USSR’s “fault”, as some crazy people have tried to argue. That’s not the same however that arguing that it without it Nazism wouldn’t have come to power or at least have been as virulent.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alexander Mercouris
    Dear AP,

    I am afraid I missed the famine of 1933. A big omission I know but given the speed of my dash through modern Russian history I suppose it was inevitable that I would miss something.

    By the way though I know there are many in the Ukraine who passionately believe otherwise the weight of academic scholarship has been moving strongly against the famine having been artificial for some time. See for example the following article by Tauger from 1991.

    http://www.as.wvu.edu/history/Faculty/Tauger/Tauger,%20'The%201932%20Harvest%20and%20the%20Famine%20of%201933,%20SR%2091.pdf

    As to your comments about Russian culture, this is precisely the sort of area where there is going to be a difference in perception between a Russian and a non Russian. To a non Russian like me it appears that for all the difficulties the general level of culture was maintained at an extremely high level throughout the period.

    , @yalensis
    True. And if that doddering old lady in Fort Lauderdale had managed to push the chad all the way thru the punched card when she voted, then maybe Al Gore would have been Prez of the USA, and maybe he would have done something to stop climate change. But she didn't, and he didn't, so I guess we're screwed. I blame it all on Stalin.
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • AP says:
    @yalensis
    I would have thought Nazis were more spurred on by Western "democracies", the way they treated Germany post WWI, the reparations, and so on. Hence, I personally believe Nazism can be blamed to actions of capitalist "democracies", not so much Bolsheviks.
    In any case, these historical "what-ifs" are kind of pointless. Unless and until some scientist invents a machine to rewind history and try out alternative historical scenarios à la James Stewart "It's a wonderful life" ("Okay, push that button over there, and let's see what happens if there was no Bolshevik Revolution in 1917"), then this is all just pointless. Some say, "Things would have been just awful," and others say, "No, things would have been just great," but neither side could prove anything. Lke that old Russian proverb: "If my aunt had had a penis, then she'd be my uncle."

    From what I understand, the threat and fear of Bolshevism led much of the German elite to view Nazism as a necessary lesser evil or savior and to throw their support behind it, thinking (mistakenly) that they could control it. The threat of communism (particularly during the Great Depression) made Nazi rule palatable for many Germans, who feared Germany’s own large and well-organized Communist Party. We will never know, but itis quite possible that without a powerful Communist state nearby, the histroy of the Revolution, etc., the Nazis would have never come to power in Germany.

    Read More
    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • @AP
    I'm not goinmg to argue economics; it's not something I am qualified to argue about. A couple of quibbles:

    "Soviet leaders killed hundreds of thousands of people"

    The artificial famines killed about 5-6 million throughout the USSR. Taking into account the children and grandchildren these millions did not have, the result is those lands probably have at least 30 million fewer people than they would have had otherwise.

    "despite occasional bans and persecutions maintained the country’s cultural level at the already impossibly high level it had achieved under the tsar"

    Not exacfly. The Revolution seems to have basically killed off the Silver Age of Russian culture. The best writers were either persecuted and censored (Bulgakov) or fled West (Nabakov). Culture did not collapse but it was signifcintly hampered.

    You made some excellent points. about the Soviet Union spurring the West to do better. Of course, Nazism probably wouldn't have come to power without the threat of Bolshevism, so the influence on the West wasn't entirely positive.

    I would have thought Nazis were more spurred on by Western “democracies”, the way they treated Germany post WWI, the reparations, and so on. Hence, I personally believe Nazism can be blamed to actions of capitalist “democracies”, not so much Bolsheviks.
    In any case, these historical “what-ifs” are kind of pointless. Unless and until some scientist invents a machine to rewind history and try out alternative historical scenarios à la James Stewart “It’s a wonderful life” (“Okay, push that button over there, and let’s see what happens if there was no Bolshevik Revolution in 1917″), then this is all just pointless. Some say, “Things would have been just awful,” and others say, “No, things would have been just great,” but neither side could prove anything. Lke that old Russian proverb: “If my aunt had had a penis, then she’d be my uncle.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    From what I understand, the threat and fear of Bolshevism led much of the German elite to view Nazism as a necessary lesser evil or savior and to throw their support behind it, thinking (mistakenly) that they could control it. The threat of communism (particularly during the Great Depression) made Nazi rule palatable for many Germans, who feared Germany's own large and well-organized Communist Party. We will never know, but itis quite possible that without a powerful Communist state nearby, the histroy of the Revolution, etc., the Nazis would have never come to power in Germany.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    AP is historically correct.

    The Nazis only came to power via very small margins. It is in fact quite probable that without the Communist factor - one that at the time was undergoing collectivization, to boot - they would not have have cleared the hurdle. Even if they did, they might well have more closely resembled the largely non-genocidal fascists like those in Italy or Spain than the Nazis we know and hate.

    Of course, the Nazis coming to power isn't Communism's or the USSR's "fault", as some crazy people have tried to argue. That's not the same however that arguing that it without it Nazism wouldn't have come to power or at least have been as virulent.

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
  • AP says:
    @Alexander Mercouris
    I take a more sympathetic view of the Soviet period. I do so with the detachment of a non Russian and as someone who believes in the continuity of Russia’s economic history.

    Any starting point to a discussion of Russia’s economic history should start with a recognition of the very particular problems Russia faces. I am not going to discuss those because Anatoly has already done so in a quite exceptional post he wrote on this blog some years ago. Suffice to say that in developing its economy Russia has had to overcome a structural problem of extreme capital and resource scarcity such as no other industrialising economy has had to face. This is crucial since it is the rate of investment (which depends on the availability of capital and of other resources) that determines the level of economic growth.

    When the tsarist government in the 1880s decided to make economic development its priority it sought to overcome the problem of capital scarcity by importing capital and technology from western Europe. This achieved a lot of success as Anatoly rightly says but came at a price of very heavy foreign borrowing and continuous budget and trade deficit problems, which created a volatile economic environment. It also forced the government into policies (such as putting the rouble prematurely onto the gold standard) that it might otherwise have avoided.

    The political turmoil of the period is in fact directly related this economic instability with the severe downswing caused by the decision to put the rouble on the gold standard leading directly to the Revolution of 1905, the political stabilisation post 1906 being the result of an economic recovery largely underwritten by a very large French loan, and by renewed signs of political tension after 1912 (eg. the Lena goldfields strike in that year and the general strike in St. Petersburg in July 1914) caused by a gradual deterioration of economic conditions as the effect of the loan wore off. One of the reasons the Russian working became so politicised and developed such an acute awareness of the international nature of capital was precisely because Russia’s economic development during this period depended so heavily on foreign capital. Factories in Russia during this period were often foreign owned with the result that factory owners were too often callously indifferent to the conditions of their workers in a way that would have been impossible in western Europe or the United States but which is quite often the case in foreign owned factories in the developing world today.

    Russia’s dependence on foreign capital also forced Russia into political alignments with its main foreign creditors, Britain and France, which it would have been wiser to avoid. This led directly to the First World War, a catastrophe for Russia as was predicted before the outbreak of the war by the tsar’s former interior minister Durnovo in a memorandum he sent to the tsar at the start of 1914. Even on the most favourable view the tsar’s government (unlike the Russian army) proved unequal to the challenge of total war and overall it is not unreasonable to see the war, the eventual collapse in 1917 and the Revolution in that year as caused by the crisis of the tsar’s model of economic modernisation.

    The Soviet government that replaced the tsar found itself faced with the same problem of capital and resource shortage that the tsar had faced with the added problem, not faced by the tsar, that it was denied access to foreign capital, a fact that persisted until the very end of its existence. Any discussion of Soviet economic development needs to confront the fact that it was undertaken, uniquely for any industrialising country, entirely on the strength of the country’s own capital base, which was already very limited.

    This was not a question of choice. Throughout the 1920s and thereafter the Soviet leaders (including Lenin, Molotov and Stalin) sought repeatedly to attract foreign capital and to reintegrate the Soviet economy into the world economy. Thus the policies of “peaceful cohabitation” with the capitalist world and of “socialism in one country”. When it became clear this would not happen and as by the late 1920s the economy began to run into growing problems caused by the capital and resource shortage (the “scissors crisis”) the government instead launched a dramatic policy of extreme economic mobilisation with forced capital accumulation and highly centralised direction of investment, capital flows and resources (“central planning”). Though this had been partly prefigured in economic debates that had taken place in the 1920s such as those between Bukharin and Preobrazhensky, it is now clear that this policy was not the result of any pre arranged plan on the part of Stalin or Molotov (the two men who bore the greatest responsibility for carrying out) but was an emergency response to what was a crisis situation.

    The system of extreme economic mobilisation that emerged out of this crisis successfully industrialised the country maintaining high levels of economic growth for around fifty years. An economic system that is able to maintain high levels of economic growth for fifty years cannot by the way be simply written off as a failure. Along the way the Soviet leaders killed hundreds of thousands of people, imprisoned millions more, fed, clothed and housed the remainder, persecuted the Church, defeated Hitler, achieved universal literacy (a great achievement even if it might have been achieved by the tsar, which is doubtful), established an impressive scientific and educational base, sustained the arms race with the United States, provided economic and military support to a variety of other countries, pioneered the exploration of space and despite occasional bans and persecutions maintained the country’s cultural level at the already impossibly high level it had achieved under the tsar. All this was only possible because of the intellectual and industrial legacy bequeathed to the USSR by the tsar (Aelita, the first important Soviet silent film, is a call to the tsarist engineering elite to rally to the cause of the country’s economic reconstruction under the leadership of the new Soviet government).

    It was also only made possible by the promise of an idealistic vision of a future free of all exploitation and material want (“communism”), which the Soviet leaders could only convincingly promise by believing in themselves. Since this was an ideal based on an analysis of the world economic system (“capitalism”) that contained a large measure of truth, it had the effect of greatly expanding political consciousness and human understanding around the world, provoking a revolution in China, national liberation movements in the west’s overseas colonies, the consolidation of social democratic welfare states in the capitalist societies of western Europe and the rise of anti racist movements in the United States, South Africa and elsewhere.

    It also provoked a powerful response in the west. Speaking as a non Russian I think Russians consistently underestimate the extent to which the west became “the West” in response to the Soviet challenge. The emergence of a specific democratic free market ideology in the west (“the free world”) and the development of the west’s great supranational institutions: NATO, the European Union, GATT/WTO, the IMF, the OECD, the post war Bretton Woods system etc. were all provoked by the need to respond to the Soviet challenge. If despite an industrial system that was already by the late 1960s experiencing increasing stress the US was able to maintain a significantly higher standard of living than the USSR (which it did) then this was in large measure because as the “defender of the free world” it was able especially after 1971 to import foreign and human capital and goods to an extent that for the USSR was quite simply impossible. Similarly if countries like Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal experienced very sharp increases in their standards of living this was also in large part due to the perceived need to provide them with access to foreign capital and markets (for example by admitting them to NATO and the European Union and by providing them with aid through the Marshall Plan) to avert the threat of Soviet style revolutions in these countries. This threat was not imaginary. Such revolutions had appeared to be close to happening in each of these countries for example in Italy in 1920 and 1944, in Greece in 1944, in Spain in 1936 and in Portugal in 1975. (Finland by the way was in the happy (and unique) position of having the best of both worlds, being closely integrated with the USSR which was its biggest economic partner until the 1980s whilst being free to trade internationally and to attract foreign (ie western) capital into its economy through the links the USSR allowed it to maintain with the west).

    Even then comparisons of living standards in such very different economies and societiesare always fraught and I for one do not know the extent to which any statistics can ever be relied up or can ever capture the whole picture. For example I have met many Greeks who emigrated from Russia to Greece in the 1990s. Without exception they have all told me that their standard of living was much higher in the (pre crisis) USSR than it was in (pre crisis) Greece.

    It is important to say however, and it is a fact that persons nostalgic for the Soviet economic system really do need to understand, that whatever the advantages of the kind of system of extreme economic mobilisation that the USSR developed might once have been, by the mid 1970s these had become exhausted as Soviet society and its economy had evolved past the point where such a system was necessary or made sense. It is now clear that this fact was fully understood within the Soviet political and economic leadership and that Soviet policies starting from the late 1960s were increasingly shaped with view to converting the USSR to a more conventional economic system. This was by the way understood by some people in the west with a considerable amount of debate in economic circles about “converge” between the two economic systems. The 1970s process known as “detente”, with its objective of reintegrating the USSR in the world economy by joining such institutions as GATT and by seeking “most favoured nation” trading status with the United States, was part of this process as were plans I can remember from that time for example for the establishment of a factory to build Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh. The various plans for economic reform that were being developed in the USSR by the economic ministries and planning agencies after the mid 1970s were of course also part of this process and it is now clear that they would have been introduced over the course of the 1980s whether Gorbachev had come to power or not. To argue that the USSR could have significantly improved its economic productivity and standard of living with the same system of economic mobilisation it had had since the 1920s not only flies in the face of the facts. It is also contrary to the belief held by the Soviet political and economic leadership of the time.

    Unfortunately the process of reform and reintegration with the world economy was derailed, first by a turn in the 1970s by the United States towards greater confrontation (eg. the Jackson Vanik amendment) and secondly by the hijacking of the reform process within Russia by a small group of ideological extremists who intentionally created an atmosphere of panic and crisis in order to put their own Randian fantasies into effect. This led to an extraordinary period of political and economic chaos that lasted for about a decade, but which by 1998 had thankfully run its course, allowing the process of incremental economic change and reform that began in the late 1970s to resume.

    I would finish by saying that if the economic reform proposals of the 1970s had been implemented Russia would have eventually emerged with an economic system fairly similar to the one it has now and that the achievements of the post 1998 period draw as much on the legacy of the Soviet period as the achievements of the Soviet period drew on the legacy of the tsar.

    Apologies to everybody, Peter especially, for an impossibly long comment. I hope it is not too convoluted. This is however an impossible and prodigiously complex and controversial subject: in effect a quick run through modern Russian history in a few quick stages and a few (long) paragraphs! I appreciate that much I have said here is controversial and many will not agree with it. I would finish by urging people to read Anatoly’s quite exceptional post on the inherent difficulties Russia has faced in its economic development though I am actually more optimistic than him that these can and indeed to a great extent have been overcome. Indeed I expect to see Russia in my lifetime have one of the highest standards of living on the planet.

    I would also urge Anatoly to discover Durnovo, a man of genius and a reactionary hero fully up to the level of Pobedonostsev (though far less of an intellectual and much more of a cynic), who saved the monarchy in 1905 and who prevented the country’s disintegration in that year and who might, just might, had he lived and been fully trusted by the tsar, have given the country the leadership it would have needed if it was to avoid revolution.

    As to a final assessment of the Soviet period, perhaps we should borrow a comment attributed to Zhou Enlai about the French Revolution (but never actually said by him), which is that it is too early to say.

    I’m not goinmg to argue economics; it’s not something I am qualified to argue about. A couple of quibbles:

    “Soviet leaders killed hundreds of thousands of people”

    The artificial famines killed about 5-6 million throughout the USSR. Taking into account the children and grandchildren these millions did not have, the result is those lands probably have at least 30 million fewer people than they would have had otherwise.

    “despite occasional bans and persecutions maintained the country’s cultural level at the already impossibly high level it had achieved under the tsar”

    Not exacfly. The Revolution seems to have basically killed off the Silver Age of Russian culture. The best writers were either persecuted and censored (Bulgakov) or fled West (Nabakov). Culture did not collapse but it was signifcintly hampered.

    You made some excellent points. about the Soviet Union spurring the West to do better. Of course, Nazism probably wouldn’t have come to power without the threat of Bolshevism, so the influence on the West wasn’t entirely positive.

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    • Replies: @yalensis
    I would have thought Nazis were more spurred on by Western "democracies", the way they treated Germany post WWI, the reparations, and so on. Hence, I personally believe Nazism can be blamed to actions of capitalist "democracies", not so much Bolsheviks.
    In any case, these historical "what-ifs" are kind of pointless. Unless and until some scientist invents a machine to rewind history and try out alternative historical scenarios à la James Stewart "It's a wonderful life" ("Okay, push that button over there, and let's see what happens if there was no Bolshevik Revolution in 1917"), then this is all just pointless. Some say, "Things would have been just awful," and others say, "No, things would have been just great," but neither side could prove anything. Lke that old Russian proverb: "If my aunt had had a penis, then she'd be my uncle."
    , @hoct
    The number of people killed by the Soviet state (whether purposefully, through callousness, or through mismanagement) within its borders adds up to about 12.5 million for the Stalin years. The 6 million in the Requisition Famine of 1932/33 (of which 3 million in Ukraine), 1-1.5 million in the famine 1946-57, 2 million dead in the GULag, 0.5 million dead in the repression of the kulaks, 0.5 million dead in the nationality-based deportations, about 1 million executed in the Great Purge, to name the most deadly events.
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  • @kirill
    I agree completely with your point about the west making itself over in response to the threat of the ideals of communism. Godless communism put the fear of God in the western elites. After the 1930s disaster they responded by allowing welfare state policies to be adopted: universal health care and education in Canada and most of western Europe. The US and its peculiarities do not contradict this fact.

    To be more specific, here in Ontario, after the Great Depression when many municipalities went bankrupt trying to support the jobless and homeless, the province took over many of these functions allowing the benefit of pooled resources. New social assistance policies were established as well. But as soon as the USSR collapsed in 1991 we had a major reversal. The neocon Mike Harris government returned the arrangement between the province and municipalities that existed in the 1920s. So many services were like welfare were downloaded back onto cities and towns and local ratepayers. Clearly this is nonsense since it means that wealthier municipalities can have higher levels of social support.

    The erosion of the welfare state has been ongoing since the 1980s. Every year the system is pulled back into the past. Education fees are jacked up, user fees and quasi-private health care keep growing. The extremely annoying thing is that the vaunted tax cuts are token. For some reason many people think that saving $300 per year or less is some sort of big deal. If I am not going to get the services I paid for in the past with my taxes then I want much lower taxes. Right now these reactionary governments are finding ways to spend the money on their private sector pals. And there is never enough.

    Good points, . I would add: The demise of the Soviet Union also spelled the deathknell of the “welfare state” and socialistic artifacts like trade unions, as well as the whole concept of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, and so on. To be replaced by a new “intellectual” paradigm consisting of economic/racial/caste superiority and dominance. For example, In America, the political elite are busy tearing down the final remants of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and replacing with the fascist (literally) notion that “corporations are people”.
    The capitalists only ever allowed any economic sharing out of primal fear of proletarian revolution. (Marx’s “spectre of communism haunting Europe”.) Which is funny, because in most of those countries there never really was any danger of proletarian revolution anyhow. But I suppose the capitalists were paranoid and worried it might happen, so they were willing to sacrifice a sliver of their pie to the workers. Allude to Marx’s writings on the “Corn Laws” in Volume I.

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  • @Alexander Mercouris
    I take a more sympathetic view of the Soviet period. I do so with the detachment of a non Russian and as someone who believes in the continuity of Russia’s economic history.

    Any starting point to a discussion of Russia’s economic history should start with a recognition of the very particular problems Russia faces. I am not going to discuss those because Anatoly has already done so in a quite exceptional post he wrote on this blog some years ago. Suffice to say that in developing its economy Russia has had to overcome a structural problem of extreme capital and resource scarcity such as no other industrialising economy has had to face. This is crucial since it is the rate of investment (which depends on the availability of capital and of other resources) that determines the level of economic growth.

    When the tsarist government in the 1880s decided to make economic development its priority it sought to overcome the problem of capital scarcity by importing capital and technology from western Europe. This achieved a lot of success as Anatoly rightly says but came at a price of very heavy foreign borrowing and continuous budget and trade deficit problems, which created a volatile economic environment. It also forced the government into policies (such as putting the rouble prematurely onto the gold standard) that it might otherwise have avoided.

    The political turmoil of the period is in fact directly related this economic instability with the severe downswing caused by the decision to put the rouble on the gold standard leading directly to the Revolution of 1905, the political stabilisation post 1906 being the result of an economic recovery largely underwritten by a very large French loan, and by renewed signs of political tension after 1912 (eg. the Lena goldfields strike in that year and the general strike in St. Petersburg in July 1914) caused by a gradual deterioration of economic conditions as the effect of the loan wore off. One of the reasons the Russian working became so politicised and developed such an acute awareness of the international nature of capital was precisely because Russia’s economic development during this period depended so heavily on foreign capital. Factories in Russia during this period were often foreign owned with the result that factory owners were too often callously indifferent to the conditions of their workers in a way that would have been impossible in western Europe or the United States but which is quite often the case in foreign owned factories in the developing world today.

    Russia’s dependence on foreign capital also forced Russia into political alignments with its main foreign creditors, Britain and France, which it would have been wiser to avoid. This led directly to the First World War, a catastrophe for Russia as was predicted before the outbreak of the war by the tsar’s former interior minister Durnovo in a memorandum he sent to the tsar at the start of 1914. Even on the most favourable view the tsar’s government (unlike the Russian army) proved unequal to the challenge of total war and overall it is not unreasonable to see the war, the eventual collapse in 1917 and the Revolution in that year as caused by the crisis of the tsar’s model of economic modernisation.

    The Soviet government that replaced the tsar found itself faced with the same problem of capital and resource shortage that the tsar had faced with the added problem, not faced by the tsar, that it was denied access to foreign capital, a fact that persisted until the very end of its existence. Any discussion of Soviet economic development needs to confront the fact that it was undertaken, uniquely for any industrialising country, entirely on the strength of the country’s own capital base, which was already very limited.

    This was not a question of choice. Throughout the 1920s and thereafter the Soviet leaders (including Lenin, Molotov and Stalin) sought repeatedly to attract foreign capital and to reintegrate the Soviet economy into the world economy. Thus the policies of “peaceful cohabitation” with the capitalist world and of “socialism in one country”. When it became clear this would not happen and as by the late 1920s the economy began to run into growing problems caused by the capital and resource shortage (the “scissors crisis”) the government instead launched a dramatic policy of extreme economic mobilisation with forced capital accumulation and highly centralised direction of investment, capital flows and resources (“central planning”). Though this had been partly prefigured in economic debates that had taken place in the 1920s such as those between Bukharin and Preobrazhensky, it is now clear that this policy was not the result of any pre arranged plan on the part of Stalin or Molotov (the two men who bore the greatest responsibility for carrying out) but was an emergency response to what was a crisis situation.

    The system of extreme economic mobilisation that emerged out of this crisis successfully industrialised the country maintaining high levels of economic growth for around fifty years. An economic system that is able to maintain high levels of economic growth for fifty years cannot by the way be simply written off as a failure. Along the way the Soviet leaders killed hundreds of thousands of people, imprisoned millions more, fed, clothed and housed the remainder, persecuted the Church, defeated Hitler, achieved universal literacy (a great achievement even if it might have been achieved by the tsar, which is doubtful), established an impressive scientific and educational base, sustained the arms race with the United States, provided economic and military support to a variety of other countries, pioneered the exploration of space and despite occasional bans and persecutions maintained the country’s cultural level at the already impossibly high level it had achieved under the tsar. All this was only possible because of the intellectual and industrial legacy bequeathed to the USSR by the tsar (Aelita, the first important Soviet silent film, is a call to the tsarist engineering elite to rally to the cause of the country’s economic reconstruction under the leadership of the new Soviet government).

    It was also only made possible by the promise of an idealistic vision of a future free of all exploitation and material want (“communism”), which the Soviet leaders could only convincingly promise by believing in themselves. Since this was an ideal based on an analysis of the world economic system (“capitalism”) that contained a large measure of truth, it had the effect of greatly expanding political consciousness and human understanding around the world, provoking a revolution in China, national liberation movements in the west’s overseas colonies, the consolidation of social democratic welfare states in the capitalist societies of western Europe and the rise of anti racist movements in the United States, South Africa and elsewhere.

    It also provoked a powerful response in the west. Speaking as a non Russian I think Russians consistently underestimate the extent to which the west became “the West” in response to the Soviet challenge. The emergence of a specific democratic free market ideology in the west (“the free world”) and the development of the west’s great supranational institutions: NATO, the European Union, GATT/WTO, the IMF, the OECD, the post war Bretton Woods system etc. were all provoked by the need to respond to the Soviet challenge. If despite an industrial system that was already by the late 1960s experiencing increasing stress the US was able to maintain a significantly higher standard of living than the USSR (which it did) then this was in large measure because as the “defender of the free world” it was able especially after 1971 to import foreign and human capital and goods to an extent that for the USSR was quite simply impossible. Similarly if countries like Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal experienced very sharp increases in their standards of living this was also in large part due to the perceived need to provide them with access to foreign capital and markets (for example by admitting them to NATO and the European Union and by providing them with aid through the Marshall Plan) to avert the threat of Soviet style revolutions in these countries. This threat was not imaginary. Such revolutions had appeared to be close to happening in each of these countries for example in Italy in 1920 and 1944, in Greece in 1944, in Spain in 1936 and in Portugal in 1975. (Finland by the way was in the happy (and unique) position of having the best of both worlds, being closely integrated with the USSR which was its biggest economic partner until the 1980s whilst being free to trade internationally and to attract foreign (ie western) capital into its economy through the links the USSR allowed it to maintain with the west).

    Even then comparisons of living standards in such very different economies and societiesare always fraught and I for one do not know the extent to which any statistics can ever be relied up or can ever capture the whole picture. For example I have met many Greeks who emigrated from Russia to Greece in the 1990s. Without exception they have all told me that their standard of living was much higher in the (pre crisis) USSR than it was in (pre crisis) Greece.

    It is important to say however, and it is a fact that persons nostalgic for the Soviet economic system really do need to understand, that whatever the advantages of the kind of system of extreme economic mobilisation that the USSR developed might once have been, by the mid 1970s these had become exhausted as Soviet society and its economy had evolved past the point where such a system was necessary or made sense. It is now clear that this fact was fully understood within the Soviet political and economic leadership and that Soviet policies starting from the late 1960s were increasingly shaped with view to converting the USSR to a more conventional economic system. This was by the way understood by some people in the west with a considerable amount of debate in economic circles about “converge” between the two economic systems. The 1970s process known as “detente”, with its objective of reintegrating the USSR in the world economy by joining such institutions as GATT and by seeking “most favoured nation” trading status with the United States, was part of this process as were plans I can remember from that time for example for the establishment of a factory to build Lockheed Tristars in Voronezh. The various plans for economic reform that were being developed in the USSR by the economic ministries and planning agencies after the mid 1970s were of course also part of this process and it is now clear that they would have been introduced over the course of the 1980s whether Gorbachev had come to power or not. To argue that the USSR could have significantly improved its economic productivity and standard of living with the same system of economic mobilisation it had had since the 1920s not only flies in the face of the facts. It is also contrary to the belief held by the Soviet political and economic leadership of the time.

    Unfortunately the process of reform and reintegration with the world economy was derailed, first by a turn in the 1970s by the United States towards greater confrontation (eg. the Jackson Vanik amendment) and secondly by the hijacking of the reform process within Russia by a small group of ideological extremists who intentionally created an atmosphere of panic and crisis in order to put their own Randian fantasies into effect. This led to an extraordinary period of political and economic chaos that lasted for about a decade, but which by 1998 had thankfully run its course, allowing the process of incremental economic change and reform that began in the late 1970s to resume.

    I would finish by saying that if the economic reform proposals of the 1970s had been implemented Russia would have eventually emerged with an economic system fairly similar to the one it has now and that the achievements of the post 1998 period draw as much on the legacy of the Soviet period as the achievements of the Soviet period drew on the legacy of the tsar.

    Apologies to everybody, Peter especially, for an impossibly long comment. I hope it is not too convoluted. This is however an impossible and prodigiously complex and controversial subject: in effect a quick run through modern Russian history in a few quick stages and a few (long) paragraphs! I appreciate that much I have said here is controversial and many will not agree with it. I would finish by urging people to read Anatoly’s quite exceptional post on the inherent difficulties Russia has faced in its economic development though I am actually more optimistic than him that these can and indeed to a great extent have been overcome. Indeed I expect to see Russia in my lifetime have one of the highest standards of living on the planet.

    I would also urge Anatoly to discover Durnovo, a man of genius and a reactionary hero fully up to the level of Pobedonostsev (though far less of an intellectual and much more of a cynic), who saved the monarchy in 1905 and who prevented the country’s disintegration in that year and who might, just might, had he lived and been fully trusted by the tsar, have given the country the leadership it would have needed if it was to avoid revolution.

    As to a final assessment of the Soviet period, perhaps we should borrow a comment attributed to Zhou Enlai about the French Revolution (but never actually said by him), which is that it is too early to say.

    Thanks, @alexander, that was an amazing comment. You help put everything in perspective.

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  • AP says:
    @AM
    "So, in the 1970′s, you and your wife would share a room in your parents’ flat, the kids might have their own bedroom or sleep with their grandparents, a grandmother might live with you too."

    In the 1970 My granpdarents had a 3 bedroom flat in Ufa where my father was brought up - they didn't live with any in-laws because they were the 1st generation that moved from villages to the city (the in-laws were left in the villages). The flat was very decent sized to bring up two kids, also had two balconies. Because the housing situations of their brother/sisters was similar I was genuinely shocked when I discovered that Soviet Union on average had horrible housing conditions. Maybe Ufa was a bit different....

    My wife spent her childhood in the capital of another Urals oblast. For a time she lived with her parents, grandmother,great-grandmother and brother in a 2 room (i bedroom) Khrushchovka. The parents had the bedroom, the kids, grandmother and great-grandmother the other room. After dad’s promotion these people all moved into their own large 5 room (4 bedroom) Stalin building on the central square of that city. Of course, the lower floors of this building had kommunalky and it was not uncommon to have to step over drunks, urine and vomit, etc. Another promotion led to a four room (3 bedroom) in central Moscow with 1.5 bathrooms, two balconies, one overlooking the Moscow river (the old people were gone by then). The Kremlin was a short walk away. This place was probably one of the best in the country by Soviet early 1980′s standards (previous resident had been a minister in the Soviet government). But it is quite *humble* by the standards of post-Soviet Russia, where the elite expects much laerger places with feature such as underground parking, fitness center or indoor pool, in the building, etc. etc. I also imagine that flat was quite humble by American elite standards of the 1970′s. Elite Americans did not have four room apartments, they had penthouse apartments.

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  • AP says:
    @kirill
    What is your link supposed to prove? Nothing. First of all it is not even a multi-story complex, it looks like a private house. I said private houses are the way to go in the US and Canada. Also, you can't tell the living conditions (i.e. noise) from some web photos. So all your huffing and puffing about the perfection of American apartment buildings is yet more BS.

    I live in a private house in a quiet neighbourhood now so I am no longer exposed to the utter crud that is the apartment life. I have friends who live in different large apartment complexes. Some are like the Soviet commie blocks and made out of concrete, others are the crap I described earlier. You can't claim that all North American apartment blocks are good, while all Soviet apartment blocks are 3rd world hovels. This simply infantile drivel.

    Even though I said private houses are the way to go, you have to be careful not to buy a semi-detached. They even had a TV program where they retrofitted a brand new semi with specialized drywall (with a viscoelastic layer) and special sound dampening insulation. The semi, built according to code, had the main wall separating the units transparent to noise and the neighbours were obviously not happy about it.

    I suspect that apartment blocks in Europe are built to a higher standard than in North America since that is dominant mode of housing. In North America everyone strives for a house and it used to be the case that they could afford it.

    AK: I appreciate your input but please be nice and courteous about it ("huffing and puffing", "infantile drivel", etc). You may not agree with much of what AP is saying but he makes his points in a civilized manner. Please attempt to do likewise.

    Kirill,

    The link states that it’s a first floor condo for rent, not a private house. I posted the link to demonstrate that your claims about $2000 apartments in Cambridge being awful places woerse even than Soviet apartments are not very realistic. But you make a good point: the way to go is a private house. And in addition to poor quality apartments, Soviet-era Russians had few private houses.

    I did not claim “all Soviet apartments are third world hovels.” So-called Stalin buildings were very nice, with enormously thick walls and high ceilings. But a shockingly large number of even middle-class Russians lived in buildings such as Khrushchovky that were similar to American projects for poor people; many even lived in “kommunalky” subdivided apartments where entire families lived in a single bedroom and shared a kitchen and bathroom with other families in other bedrooms. As I noted, the average living space per person for urban Russians in the 1970′s, 7.6 square meters, was only 1/3 of that for American city-dwellers.

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  • @Anatoly Karlin
    (1) I'm aware of Durnovo's memorandum, I wrote about it here. :)

    (2) This is an excellent run through of Russo/Soviet economic history, but with all due respect - regardless of the "high levels of economic growth", that growth was not of a scale to break past 40% of US GDP per capita even in its heyday during the mid-1970's.

    Yes, the Russia Empire faced particular challenges, to do with capital scarcity, borrowing, etc. But so did most of the other countries covered in this survey. Almost uniformly, their relative positions even by 1985 were both better relative to the US, and themselves in 1913.

    Let's look at it from another perspective - what was the only "Europeanized" country to fail to become an advanced economy in the past century? Argentina. The USSR was about as successful as Argentina.

    (3) I am frankly amazed that about your assertion that it is "doubtful" that universal literacy could have been achieved under the Tsar. There is not a single example to my knowledge where a country with Russia's level of development in 1913 failed to have universal literacy by the late 20th century. The idea becomes incredible once one accesses AP's link and learns that by 1914 primary enrollment was already at 80%, and that the literacy rate among recruits in 1914 was at least 65%-70% (i.e. who had attended school in 1904-1907. By 1917 primary enrollment was almost universal.

    (4) That the Soviet challenge helped spur the West into making some nice changes to capitalism I do not dispute, of course, however I would note that those changes didn't benefit Russians themselves.

    Dear Anatoly,

    My purpose obviously is not to “defend” the USSR, a pointless exercise in my opinion, but to try to explain it.

    To take your points in turn:

    1. Excellent. Do also read what Anatole Lieven has to say about Durnovo in his biography of Nicholas II. I do think he was a quite remarkable man in a government full of clever men (eg. Stolypin, Witte, Krivoshein, Kokovtsev etc).

    2. Even if the USSR did only achieve 40% of US GDP per capita by the mid 1970s could it have done better with a different economic system? Possibly. How can we know? How can we know if the US’s GDP would have been as high as it was in the mid 1970s if it had not been spurred on (and able to attract an enormous of financial and human capital) because of its competition with the USSR? I think it is also reasonable to point out (as I think Christopher Doss has done on your Facebook page) that given the extraordinarily high level of wealth the US achieved by the mid 1970s using a comparison of Soviet and US GDP per capita as the test of Soviet economic achievement is to set the bar exceptionally high.

    One thing we can say is that other countries of similar or greater continental dimensions to Russia and the US (eg. China, India, Brazil, Indonesia), some of which had had in comparatively recent historical time much bigger economies and higher standards of living than Russia (eg. China and India) did worse overall during the twentieth century than Russia. Does that prove that the USSR had an inherently good economic system? Of course not. What it does tend to show is that the quality of economic decision making and administration tended to be higher in Russia during the twentieth century than in those countries and that Russia as a society was better at achieving economic growth than those societies.

    As for the question of capital shortage, it is important to remember that other countries that have had the same problem have been able to draw in resources from outside. This was certainly true of Britain and the United States and it has also been true of China. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a single other important economy that industrialised on its own resources and whilst isolated from world trade as Russia did. Could things have been different? Possibly. Perhaps cleverer policies could have avoided the First World War or attracted foreign investment in the 1920s and the 1970s or avoided the Cold War of the 1940s (another disaster for Russia by the way). However Russia has never been the only party to make the decisions that concern itself. On this as on other questions that might have affected its overall economic performance it is always possible to imagine other happier realities than the ones Russia actually had to face.

    3. I am not definite about this issue. Actually I am open to persuasion. It is certainly possible that by 1914 the level of literacy had achieved the degree of critical mass that might have resulted in universal literacy being achieved whether the Revolution happened or not. The thing that makes me cautious is the nature of educational policy in the late tsarist period. Most schooling was provided by schools set up in the countryside by local zemtsva or in the cities by charitable bodies or individuals and by local councils. Such general schooling policy as there was was coordinated from the centre by various ministries of which the most important was arguably the ministry of agriculture. There seems to have been no overarching educational policy. Whilst the quality of schooling that was provided was often very high one does not get the sense of schooling being given by the tsar’s government the sort of overriding and urgent priority it was given by the Soviet regime in the 1920s. In the absence of such priority (which it should not be forgotten went hand in hand with quite a lot of coercion) one cannot be sure about whether or how quickly universal literacy would have been achieved given the residual resistance that inevitably exists to such a thing in a peasant society. Bear in mind that what I am talking about is universal 100% literacy. As comparisons with other peasant societies such as India (or the Greece of my childhood) show achieving 80% literacy is an impressive achievement but it is often the remaining 20% which proves the most resistant and the most intractable.

    Having said this and putting these points to one side, the most important point to understand is that universal literacy was achieved by the Soviets and not under the tsar because the tsarist system collapsed as it was overwhelmed by a crisis its own policies had in part created. Again it is possible to imagine other happier realities where such a crisis did not happen but those were not the realities that Russia actually faced.

    Before leaving this subject I do want again to emphasise one veryy point, which is always missed. This is that the reason the Soviet regime was able to achieve universal literacy was because it was able to draw on what had already been achieved under the tsar. Specifically the reason the Soviet regime had educated people it could send into the countryside and into the factories to teach literacy to peasants and workers was because of the abundance of such people that had become educated under the tsar. Similarly the Soviet regime was able to modernise the economy and administer the country because it was able to draw on the enormous pool of highly trained and educated scientists, engineers, statisticians and administrators who had been trained and educated under the tsar. It is important always to keep in mind continuity between periods, tsarist, Soviet and post Soviet, when discussing Russia. It is not a different country from one period to another whatever some people might say.

    4. This is absolutely true. I have no argument with it. It is why at the beginning of my comment I was careful to say that I wrote with the detachment of a non Russian.

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