Streetwise Professor

September 26, 2011

Father Knows Best?

Filed under: Economics,Financial Crisis II,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 5:58 pm

Given that Kudrin has resigned, it appears that Putin has not interceded on Kudrin’s behalf; Kudrin ran to daddy, and daddy did not intervene on his behalf.  Perhaps not surprising, given that one interpretation of Kudrin’s outburst is that it was directed not at its ostensible target–Medvedev–but at Putin instead.  But who knows for sure?  Perhaps Putin told Kudrin to keep his powder dry, and at some decent interval after the election, Medvedev will have served his purpose and be kicked to the curb.  But I cannot get beyond the fact that everything Kudrin said about Medvedev’s profligacy (especially with respect to defense) really applies to Putin.  This cannot have escaped Putin.

Playing that out, the implication is that Putin has decided that short run political goals are of overriding importance, and that medium-to-long run economic consequences are of lesser concern.  Pushing that line of reasoning still further, that is hardly a signal of confidence and political strength. It would mean that Putin is convinced that he needs a splashy, decisive political victory in December (the Duma elections) and May (the Presidential election), and that he needs to politic and bribe to get it.  If he were truly a Russian Colossus, standing astride what used to be 11 time zones, why would he think this way?

No, the Kudrin affair suggests deep fissures within the Russian elite, and deep insecurity at the very top.  Very deep.

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15 Comments »

  1. From Putin’s viewpoint it must be stressful switching from a ventriloquism act to a magic act that culminates in making a President silently disappear.

    I mean think about it in the first case no one can see his lips move and in the second case absolutely no one should see the dummies lips move. The second case is much more trying and subject to unforeseen complexities.

    When he pulls this off his selection of Medvedev as the dummy will be fully vindicated. Charlie McCarthy wouldn’t have done half as well.

    Comment by pahoben — September 26, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

  2. Where is the fissure? Putin wants to purge all possible opposition, and it has been purged.

    Comment by La Russophobe — September 26, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  3. Those who follow Russian “politics” don’t laugh in the circus.

    Comment by So? — September 26, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  4. Purge? Please, how can a ventriloquist purge his own dummy. If Medvedev is executed then PURGE may be appropriate. He will not be.

    Comment by pahoben — September 26, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

  5. Playing that out, the implication is that Putin has decided that short run political goals are of overriding importance, and that medium-to-long run economic consequences are of lesser concern.

    I found the concentration on the short term at the expense of the medium and long terms to be a significant flaw in the character of so many Russians. I have a million andecdotes which back this up, and Russia is no means alone in this respect, but it doesn’t half hold them back. In business, a supplier would rather fleece you for $1,000 on the first day than take $10,000 legitimately over the course of a week. Why? (Shrug) “Tomorrow I might be dead.”

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 26, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  6. “short run political goals are of overriding importance, and that medium-to-long run economic consequences are of lesser concern.”

    That is always the Modus Operandi of organized crime. Main concern of those who are in charge is to keep things as they are, and that requires only that day-to-day business is taken care of. Like Mafia, Russia has only very vague long term strategic objectives. Like in Mafia, in Russia everything is based on personal contacts, there is no underlying system that could develop into something in which continuous change is desirable (like in democracy).

    Comment by Thomas — September 27, 2011 @ 12:15 am

  7. One of the reasons why Africa is hit with famines so often is that the locals lack the capacity to plan. Completely. Given the short growing season in Russia, the long hard winter, one would not expect such short-termism. Alas, no. Like I said, blue-eyed negros.

    Comment by So? — September 27, 2011 @ 12:16 am

  8. Did Kudrin matter at all? Market says no, up 3% despite him.

    Comment by La Russophobe — September 27, 2011 @ 5:48 am

  9. @Tim–and he very well might be right! Back in the early days of SWP, ’06-’07, I wrote several geeky, econ-oriented pieces on Russian short-termism. Like many things, its a self-enforcing equilibrium. That’s why it’s so difficult to envision a way out. It’s not primarily a political thing that can be changed by legislation, or a new leadership (ha!). It’s a social thing that infests and shapes politics too.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 27, 2011 @ 6:32 am

  10. @LR–it’s all about the oil. Oil up. Markets around the world up (another Tinker Bell rally based on the latest EuroDisney fantasy). Remember, Russia is a high beta economy, meaning that it fluctuates more wildly than other world markets. Separating out a Kudrin effect (or a Putin effect) in these circumstances is very difficult.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — September 27, 2011 @ 6:40 am

  11. SWP: So you mean the market might have gone up 4% if Kudrin hadn’t been wiped out? Probably a price Putin can rather easily pay.

    Comment by La Russophobe — September 27, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

  12. “At least $50 billion have leaked out of Russia this year. That’s just one of many miserable economic indicators that point to big trouble ahead: the ruble at a two-year low, sliding domestic stock indexes, a budget that could barely be balanced even if oil were still at $116 a barrel (today, it’s $107). Siberian oil fields are in decline, it’ll be decades before Arctic drilling comes online, and the center of world oil production is shifting increasingly to the Americas. Then there’s the looming economic crisis in Europe scraping at the door. None of it, frankly, looks very good.”

    Good luck with that, Mr. Putin.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/27/disaster_politics?page=full

    Comment by La Russophobe — September 28, 2011 @ 2:09 am

  13. Russia must cut spending. So, naturally, it is planning massive increases in both domestic and military budgets.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110927-709453.html

    Good luck with that, Mr. Putin!

    Comment by La Russophobe — September 28, 2011 @ 2:31 am

  14. “Russia must cut spending.”

    Indeed. Russia fails to ensure the proper return to Capital, because Our rebellious servant Vladimir insists on wasting money on trivialities like wages, pensions, and defense.

    “So, naturally, it is planning massive increases in both domestic and military budgets.”

    Exactly! How else are We to gain Our hold on Russia, similar to Our unshakable grip on the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Greece, and Latvia, if Our rebellious servant Vladimir insists on refraining from impoverishing Russians?!

    Comment by a — October 1, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  15. @a, he is impoverishing Russians, outside the Moscow and St.Petersburg metropolitan areas.

    Comment by Andrew — October 2, 2011 @ 7:53 am

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