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Will Russia Reject Neoliberalism?
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According to various reports, the Russian government is reconsidering the neoliberal policy that has served Russia so badly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If Russia had adopted an intelligent economic policy, its economy would be far ahead of where it stands today. It would have avoided most of the capital flight to the West by relying on self-finance.

Washington took advantage of a demoralized Russian government, which looked to Washington for guidance in the post-Soviet era. Thinking that the rivalry between the two countries had ended with the Soviet collapse, Russians trusted American advice to modernize its economy with best-practice Western ideas. Instead, Washington abused this trust, and saddled Russia with an economic policy designed to carve up Russian Screen shot 2016-08-09 at 3.57.13 PM economic assets and transfer ownership into foreign hands. By tricking Russia into accepting foreign capital and exposing the ruble to currency speculation, Washington made sure that the US could destabilize Russia with capital outflows and assaults on the ruble’s exchange value. Only a government unfamiliar with the neoconservative aim of US world hegemony would have exposed its economic system to such foreign manipulation.

The sanctions that Washington imposed – and forced Europe to impose – on Russia show how neoliberal economics works against Russia. Its call for high interest rates and austerity sank the Russian economy – needlessly. The ruble was knocked down by capital outflows, resulting in the neoliberal central bank squandering Russia’s foreign reserves in an effort to support the ruble but actually supported capital flight.

Even Vladimir Putin finds attractive the romantic notion of a global economy to which every country has equal access. But the problems resulting from neoliberal policy forced him to turn to import substitution in order to make the Russian economy less dependent on imports. It also made Putin realize that if Russia were to have one foot in the Western economic order, it needed to have the other foot in the new economic order being constructed with China, India, and former central Asian Soviet republics.

Neoliberal economics prescribes a dependency policy that relies on foreign loans and foreign investment. This policy creates foreign currency debt and foreign ownership of Russian profits. These are dangerous vulnerabilities for a nation declared by Washington to be “an existential threat to the US.”

The economic establishment that Washington set up for Russia is neoliberal. Most notably, the head of the central bank Elvira Nabiullina, minister of economic development Alexei Ulyukayev, and the current and former finance ministers, Anton Siluanov and Alexei Kudrin, are doctrinaire neoliberals. This crowd wanted to deal with Russia’s budget deficit by selling public assets to foreigners. If actually carried through, that policy would give Washington more control over Russia’s economy.

Opposed to this collection of “junk economists,” stands Sergey Glaziev. Boris Titov and Andrei Klepach are reported to be his allies.

This group understands that neoliberal policies make Russia’s economy susceptible to destabilization by Washington if the US wants to punish the Russian government for not following Washington’s foreign policy. Their aim is to promote a more self-sufficient Russia in order to protect the nation’s sovereignty and the government’s ability to act in Russia’s national interests rather than subjugate these interests to those of Washington. The neoliberal model is not a development model, but is purely extractive. Americans have characterized it as making Russia or other dependencies “hewers of wood and drawers of water” – or in Russia’s case, oil, gas, platinum and diamonds.

Self-sufficiency means not being import dependent or dependent on foreign capital for investment that could be financed by Russia’s central bank. It also means keeping strategic parts of the economy in public, not private, hands. Basic infrastructure services should be provided to the economy at cost, on a subsidized basis or freely, not turned over to foreign owners to extract monopoly rent. Glaziev also wants the ruble’s exchange value to be set by the central bank, not by speculators in the currency market.

Neoliberal economists do not acknowledge that the economic development of a nation with natural resource endowments such as Russia has can be financed by the central bank creating the money required to undertake the projects. They pretend that this would be inflationary. Neoliberals deny the long-recognized fact that, in terms of the quantity of money, it makes no difference whether the money comes from the central bank or from private banks creating money by making loans or from abroad. The difference is that if money comes from private banks or from abroad, interest must be paid to the banks, and profits have to be shared with foreign investors, who end up with some control over the economy.

Apparently, Russia’s neoliberals are insensitive to the threat that Washington and its European vassals pose to the Russian state. On the basis of lies Washington has imposed economic sanctions on Russia. This political demonization is as fictitious as is the neoliberal economic propaganda. On the basis of such lies, Washington is building up military forces and missile bases on Russia’s borders and in Russian waters. Washington seeks to overthrow former Russian or Soviet provinces and install regimes hostile to Russia, as in Ukraine and Georgia. Russia is continually demonized by Washington and NATO. Washington even politicized the Olympic games and prevented the participation of many Russian athletes.

Despite these overt hostile moves against Russia, Russian neoliberals still believe that the economic policies that Washington urges on Russia are in Russia’s interest, not intended to gain control of its economy. Hooking Russia’s fate to Western hegemony under these conditions would doom Russian sovereignty.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

Michael Hudson’s new book, Killing the Host is published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet. He can be reached via his website, [email protected]

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Neoliberalism, Russia 
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  1. Russia should steer as far as possible from Western capital. I’m actually more sympathetic to Joseph Stalin’s decision to avoid Soviet and eastern European participation in the Marshall Plan; with money comes influence and control.

    • Replies: @Jim
  2. The three legs of neoliberalism are free trade, open borders and the privatization of everything. The aim is to redistribute wealth upward. It is working quite well. Economic Imperialism has the same aim but is not the same thing. I respect both writers and will not pretend to know something they do not. But I find the use of “neoliberalism” in this piece misleading.

    • Replies: @Clearpoint
    , @Philip Owen
  3. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Good presentation. Now just substitute the phrase “U.S.A.” for “Russia” in every sentence and change all the verbs from present or future tense to past tense and you have accurately described the revolutionary, neoliberal takeover of the United States that has occurred over the last fifty years.

    Only thing is, we had no Putin, just craven, vain and greedy second-raters like the Clintons and Obama who could be manipulated because of their weaknesses (sins, in former cosmologies).

    • Replies: @NoseytheDuke
    , @Penelope
  4. Putin can get the sanctions lifted tomorrow. All he ahs to do is get out of all of Ukraine, bot Crimea and the Donbas. Pay, then reparations for the damage he has done to Ukraine and the deaths he has caused. The sanctions will go away quite quickly.

    Putin, the gangsters behind him, have made Russia a pariah state. He got the status the old fashioned way, just as Stalin did, he acted like a criminal.

  5. This parts company with reality very quickly when it says “and transfer ownership into foreign hands”. Yeltsin’s single biggest economic mistake was not allowing foreign capital into a country that had no capital; Requiring it’s invention via fake banks.

    Someone who thinks that Glaziev is even same has no grasping economics. Glaziev owes his position to his willingness to project many various vanity projects where effectiveness doesn’t matter. Rouble as trade currency for example – it’s fallen off the charts after once reaching #16.

    • Replies: @Clearpoint
    , @jtgw
  6. @Anonymous

    Did you forget to include the Bush Duo and Ronnie before that?

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  7. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    Russian neoliberals still believe that the economic policies that Washington urges on Russia are in Russia’s interest

    Do they really believe that, or do they believe that the policies that Washington urges on Russia are in the interests of Russian oligarchs who want to join the globalist racket, in accordance with which wealth is concentrated in the hands of an international elite while the people of the world are subordinated to undemocratic, money-power-controlled global institutions such as the WTO, UN, EU, which aim to destroy the sovereign nation state through the imposition of open borders, multiculturalism, political correctness, and in due course, the great cull of humanity, as automation eliminates the need for large plebeian populations to operate the industrial machine.

    • Replies: @Clearpoint
  8. @Quartermaster

    I bet you enjoy movies based on comic books.

  9. @Quartermaster

    If your war whore Vicky Noodleman didn’t slosh around 5 billion in CIA color revolution funds- there might still be a democratically elected government in Ukraine.

  10. Avery says:

    {All he ahs to do is get out of all of Ukraine, bot Crimea and the Donbas}

    All neo-Nazis have to do is get out of Ukraine.
    Crimea is Russia.
    Donbass is Russia.

    Neo-Nazis get out of Slavic lands.
    Next time you Nazis mess with Russia, she won’t be as forgiving as after WW2: radioactive glass parking lots everywhere you filthy Nazi cockroaches dwell. Even you cockroaches won’t survive the 1,000,000 degree heat.

  11. @NoseytheDuke

    And who could forget Jimmy (fake-an oil-shortage) Carter? And by the way, didn’t a certain Mr. Nixon get the move-the-factories-to-China ball rolling to begin with? They were a bunch of smart bastards, no? Being the top 1% wasn’t enough, they had to have it all.

    • Replies: @Seamus Padraig
  12. War for Blair Mountain [AKA "Groovy Battle for Blair Mountain"] says:

    US neoliberal economic policy for The Historic Native Born White American Working Class:

    1)Import millions of Asian+Muslim scab workers=The Blessings of Diversity!!!

    2)It follows from 1) that The Historic Native Born White American Working Class is denied the very great benefit of a very severe labor scarcity=a high real wage.

    3)It follows from 1)+2) that the Greedy Cheating White Liberal MEGA CEO CLASS=THE MOST VILE SCUM IN THE WHOLE OF UNIVERSE!! steals the wealth of The Historic Native Born White American Working Class.

    4)POTUS Donald Trump gives Bill Gates a massive tax break for having murdered the Native Born White American Tech Workforce…..WTF?

    1-4=The Historic Native Born White American Working Class voted into a violently persecuted racial minority in post-white toilet bowl “America”=the neo-liberal economics endgame for the Historic Native Born White American Working Class…

  13. @WorkingClass

    Your 3 legs is 1 leg short. You forgot the most important leg — the financialization of every economic transaction. Without the 4th leg, the neoliberal goal — a greater share of revenues to those that control the financialization mechanism, and less to those that create the actual economic value — is not possible.

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  14. @Philip Owen

    BS. If the USSR had no capital then what were western banks fighting over? The truth is that the state owned all the important capital assets, and western banks financed the privatization of these extractive monopolies. No doubt Russian leaders were crooked and stupid, but not so stupid as to let western financial institutions privatise these extractive monopolies without claiming a big piece of the pie for themselves. So the oligarchs merely inserted themselves in between the privatization. Just another layer of wealth extraction between the people and the use of the capital assets they need.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
    , @Philip Owen
  15. bluedog says:

    I might agree on some point but first lets pay Nam Iraq and Afghanistan the reparations that we owe them,but we know that will never happen don’t we.!!

  16. @Jim Christian

    And who could forget Jimmy (fake-an oil-shortage) Carter?

    Carter wasn’t faking anything. The oil shortages were real, though not natural. The first one was caused by the Arab oil embargo, which targeted several western countries–including the US–for backing Israel against the Arabs in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The second oil shock hit in 1979, after the Iranian Revolution. That’s why oil was so expensive in the seventies and early eighties.

    And by the way, didn’t a certain Mr. Nixon get the move-the-factories-to-China ball rolling to begin with?

    No, that wasn’t Nixon. It was George H.W. Bush, who extended China ‘most favored nation’ trade status (later deceptively rename ‘normal trade status’) in 1992. Nixon going to China twenty years earlier had profound repercussions on foreign policy, but there was no change in the economic relationship at that time, probably because China was still fairly backward, not having completed their industrialization. If you’re old enough to remember the 70s, you will recall that all the imports were still “made in Taiwan” or “made in Japan”.

    • Replies: @Jim Christian
  17. @Seamus Padraig

    Nixon’s overtures to China got the ball rolling. Jap steel was starting to get expensive, they needed a cheaper workshop. China is now outsourcing to Vietnam because the labor there is cheaper. As for our domestic oil, fracking was available, they just found it easier to tap the Middle East. They knew the Permian fields were huge and they knew what they had in the ground in the upper Mid West. I suppose we could argue the ramifications of allocations and rationing until the cows come home, but why bother? End result of our own production is that gasoline and other finished products are cheaper when adjusted for inflation than they were even when gasoline (my personal benchmark) was a 50 cents a gallon, maybe less even. The Saudis are pissing oil up a downspout trying to kill the American domestic market. It turns out we’re able to pump and deliver for refining and still make money at 15-25 dollars a barrel according to Financial Times. We’re not drilling new, but the recent originals are pumping away. All we need are more pipelines, rail transport is idiotic. If we can get a President that’s not a knucklehead on the subject. Bill Clinton might counsel Hillary on the value, politically, of \$10.00/bbl crude and 1.50 gasoline, maybe she’ll come around. But what happened in the 70s needn’t have.

    Peak-Oil was a scare tactic, oil is abiotic. Hilarious that people were fooled into thinking fossils are brewing into oil thousands of feet below the bedrock and especially those wells drilled under thousands of feet of water. There are stores of natural gas and crude so huge and untapped as to last hundreds of years and that leaves out the abundance of coal which, in spite of Obama’s ban, can be used for other things besides as a raw fuel.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  18. Penelope says:

    Thank you Nosytheduke. Exactly so. In fact, most of the world’s economies have been taken over in just this manner.

  19. Penelope says:

    Neoliberals, in the vast majority of cases are not neoliberal because they think it’s good for their home country. They’re neoliberal cuz they’re bought. In Russia’s case there’s all that IMF money that got lost in the 90s. Their ill-gotten gains are socked away in the US– just to be sure they don’t change loyalties.

    Putin editorial – 11/25/10
    No more tariffs. No more visas. Vastly more economic cooperation between Russia and the European Union. That’s the vision presented by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in an editorial contribution to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday.

    “We propose the creation of a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” Putin writes. “In the future, we could even consider a free trade zone or even more advanced forms of economic integration. The result would be a unified continental market with a capacity worth trillions of euros.”

    Putin at Valdai:
    “I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a “greenfield,” especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.
    “We need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It’s not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody’s complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions”

    He is always right on the Rule of Law, but nothing in his vision suggests redressing power towards democracy or self-governance. Says he’s for national sovereignty but never speaks of the desirability for nations to regain trade sovereignty, let alone economic or currency sovereignty. He LIKES the Bretton Woods institutions which hold much of the world in debt slavery. He’s reversed his earlier criticism of AGW as a “hoax”, and now champions it altho it’s plainly another way to centralize power in the hands of the oligarchs, masked by the UN.
    I’d like to believe that Putin is for freedom, democracy, and national sovereignty, but I don’t even see WORDS to support these.

    No visas. Economic and trade integration. No ability for nations to issue their own credit. If nations are to have no powers what power will voters have? How does such a system differ from the global oligarchy that is presently being formed from the international institutions which usurp sovereignty and democracty?

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  20. slorter says:

    Wonderful review of recent history it is a pity the facts are missing!

  21. @Jim Christian

    Can you cite evidence for people being fooled in Carter’s day into believing that oil and gas reserves were not abiotic but constamtly being created? Who did the fooling and whowas fooled?

    As to the oil and gas available in the US from fracking can you cite proof of efficacy and consequent price from the 70s?

    You have confidently asserted facts which astonish me, a disinterested observer, and I wonder how it could all be so clear to you.

  22. polistra says:

    Good advice, but I’m pretty sure Putin doesn’t need the advice. By all visible signs he’s strongly committed to self-sufficiency. He wants foreign trade, but he wants it to be within a separate non-Goldman universe. In fact he’s BUILDING the non-Goldman universe fast with China, Persia and Turkey.

    Self-sufficiency worked before (see Gosbank and Stroybank) and there’s no reason why it can’t work again.

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  23. bunga says: • Website

    One of the interesting things about neoliberalism is the running or financing of the economy or American deficit economy by the money received from abroad usually under threat ( no alternatives but to loan it to US) America sends those money to IMF and WB and forces some of these very countries to open up to predatory American economic activities – forced austerity, selling of infrastructures, pawning resources and bringing wages down . China is among the top who has those one way recyclable dollars ( if China did not have the military might,US would have confiscated those dollars by this time ) .It can go to different countries teaming up with other dollar holding countries and kick IMF and WB out . May be that’s the logic of new orientation – BRICKS, Asian Dev Bank,and other new financial entities- which US hates to see take effect.

  24. @WorkingClass

    Absolute rubbish. Ordinary people around the world are far richer than they were 20 or 50 years ago. Billions have been lifted out of poverty by free trade. And for those who were already well off, a washing machine no longer costs two months wages. The lower your skill level in a tradeable industry, the less secure you are. That is true. But what is the point of digging coal? It’s dangerous, dirty, damaging to the local environment (I live in South Wales) and damaging to the global environment. As for coal so for much else. I’m a design engineer. I started work in 1970. Every factory I worked in has closed. I’ve dodged and dived from electrical engineering to nuclear power to disk & tape drives to fine chemicals to space craft and finally trade consulting. It’s been terrible for my professional life and finances but for the poor of the world as a whole the last 70 years has been a miraculous leap forward. Even in the UK, even in Merthyr Tydfil people have more material possessions and educational opportunities (excluding those who got to Grammar school) than they have ever had. Not everyone is equipped to cope with such freedom.

    • Replies: @Regnum Nostrum
  25. @Clearpoint

    But you are completely right about the use of Neo-Liberalism as a straw man. I know of no one accused of neoliberalism who would describe themselves with the tag.

    • Replies: @gwynedd1
  26. @Clearpoint

    Never happened. There was no such fight. They took one look and left scared before they could even find a way in. One reason Browder made his money was that he had no competition. Practicallly everyfirm he analyzed was new to the market. There were aid funded venture capital funds like Rennaisance and that was it. Absolutely no significant commercial interest. In Russia, \$10Bn aid from US, \$10 Bn from EU, \$5Bn from Germany , \$5Bn from UK. The US also sent \$5Bn to Ukraine. All government aid. Russia was not creditworthy. A few banks bought government debt at super junk bond rates (and still lost on the deal in 1998).

  27. @polistra

    “Self-sufficiency worked before” Which is of course why the Soviet Union is still with us. Maoist China and Ghandi-ist India come to that. North Korea’s out performance of the South is legendary. Their leadership actually has electric light at night in Winter. And those wicked free traders in Chile deserve hanging for outperforming the tariff protected Argentinians (once a democratic, top ten first world economy subject to excessive British investment – Glazyev economics is so much like Peronism, a wonderful model to follow).

    • Replies: @gwynedd1
  28. @Penelope

    Unsurprising. Bretton Woods has given billions of poor people wealth beyond their then uneducated imaginations. Only those who want to control and dominate in their own little pond could possibly argue against the system. It was set up to undermine future Hitlers, Mussolinis and Stalins. Stalin was already in place. Mao and Ghandi/Nehru sneaked in while the system was in its infancy and condemned billions to decades of unnecessary poverty but that’s over now. Only nationalists with 1930’s agendas and some Islamists oppose liberty now.

    • Replies: @Penelope
    , @Daniel Chieh
  29. @Clearpoint

    Thank you Clearpoint. You have been very helpful.

  30. Penelope says:
    @Philip Owen

    The banksters are certainly impoverishing the entire world. Through their US wars and their proxy wars they have killed millions. They have overturned democratic governments again and again. Through the control of Western govts these mobsters have destroyed almost the entire substance of liberty.

    If we ever get control of our govt again it’s vital that those whom we elect have the power to enact the people’s will. If monetary matters, trade policy, budgets and immigration are all decided by some supranational entity our nation won’t be sovereign nor our people free.

    • Replies: @Boris
  31. Boris says:

    If monetary matters, trade policy, budgets and immigration are all decided by some supranational entity our nation won’t be sovereign nor our people free.

    Or maybe Americans just don’t want the same policies that you do.

  32. jtgw says: • Website
    @Philip Owen

    Good point about inventing money by fake banks. In PCR’s last column, he actually did a good job in pointing to Fed-driven inflation as the primary source of our economic woes. Here he seems to have forgotten this lesson. Credit bubbles and the ensuing busts are caused by fractional-reserve banking.

  33. @Philip Owen

    And all at the low, low cost of destroying their culture, soul, and any meaning of life, to be replaced with egoism, materialism, and political correctness.

    No more.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  34. jtgw says: • Website
    @Daniel Chieh

    I’m no fan of political correctness, but I’m sure billions of Indians and Chinese would take it over mass starvation. It helps to maintain some perspective in these matters.

  35. kemerd says:

    I am not sure Putin and co. would take this recommendation seriously, unless a war with the west becomes imminent.

    The reason is that he is a nationalist but certainly not against neo-liberalism. Once he opens gates for other forms of economic theories, it is clear that strong communist tradition of Russian society would take cue and flock to the communist party of Russia; that is why he has been refusing to mobilize its economy for war posturing even though Russia has already started to take war position on its armed forces.

    He and his ilk are simply the same sort of people like Obama and co but wants a chair on the table and not wish Russia be in the menu.

  36. gwynedd1 says:

    Your plan would have worked too if we meddling kids were on the yahoo forum. You are going to try this here? Ukraine and Crimea was not honestly brokered. Every Russian war museum has the defense of Sevastopol….and from guess who. Seems to be a consistent pattern of the West trying to rip Crimea away from Russia, Florence.

  37. gwynedd1 says:
    @Philip Owen

    I just love the typical free trade tropes that would put victims of hypothermia in a pot of boiling water. Yeah OPEC in the 70s worked real well didn’t it? Lets hand over our oil industry to OPEC. Perhaps we should not be so “self sufficient” with our military and outsource it to India and China as well. Lets get in the same position as Russia and have our policy dictated by the threat of trade embargo. Why even grow our own food?

    Perhaps I should stop driving, cooking and opening doors and hire a driver, a chef and a butler. That way I can work on my specialty which is not doing anything.

    Of course you don’t even bother to address the Soviet problem of scale, internal economic policy or hideous multicultural empire. Nah it was just a trade problem…

    The US has always been associated with an internal economy compared to some small Asian Tiger. Some how it limped along.

    Yeah , trade works great, but it is part of a complex arrangement. Efficiency and redundancy or two very important but somewhat exclusive benefits. The people that run a site like this make that trade off all the time. Trading for a vital part of the economy does not have fault tolerance.

  38. gwynedd1 says:
    @Philip Owen

    No they would just believe in all the theories neoliberalism describes. Pretty much neolibralism cherry picks the theory of classical economics, retaining its trade theory while ditching rentierism and the concept of sovereign rule over merchant rule. Neoliberalism conflates capital with government secured assets like real estate, patents, copyrights and licenses, bank charters and treats them as if they were products of human labor. That’s a neoliberal and there are lots of them.

  39. Jim says:
    @Diversity Heretic

    I’ve read of rumors that following Stalin’s death Beria wanted to negotiate an agreement with the West for Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe in return for participation in the Marshall Plan. Supposedly this was one of the reasons for him getting a bullet in the back of the head.

  40. @Philip Owen

    The lower your skill level in a tradeable industry, the less secure you are.

    I’m a design engineer. I started work in 1970. Every factory I worked in has closed. I’ve dodged and dived from electrical engineering to nuclear power to disk & tape drives to fine chemicals to space craft and finally trade consulting. It’s been terrible for my professional life and finances.

    I see a bit of a contradiction in your two paragraphs. Unless you are trying to say that a design engieer belongs amongst the lower skill levels.

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