Notorious Russophobe Alexei Kudrin is sounding the alarm on Russia’s economy. (No doubt “a” is fulminating about him now.)
Mr. Kudrin, who was ousted from the government last year after protesting rising military spending, said he listened to presentations and speeches at the forum, where Russian officials typically woo foreign investors, and heard expressions of “worry” and discussions of “worst-case scenarios.”
Still, he said, “the situation is a lot worse than it was presented.” With Europe apparently slithering into recession this summer, Russia is now more likely than not to suffer a crisis of its own this year, he said. While he acknowledged that other economists were less worried about Russia than he is, he said, “I saw even less worry in the Russian government.”
Banks and investors are already pulling money out of Russia, he said in a question-and-answer session with journalists at the close of the three-day St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, while indications from Europe worsen by the day.
Mr. Putin, in contrast, spoke of Europe’s turmoil largely to highlight that Russia is better off.
The best part is at the end:
Mr. Kudrin did allow that his former boss’s speech struck a positive note in highlighting new business-friendly laws and promising a new round of privatization of state enterprises to shore up the budget. In his address, Mr. Putin said these privatizations would be conducted more fairly than those in the 1990s.
Mr. Kudrin said the actions would matter more than talk. “Putin’s speech was good, if it is realized,” he said.
Absolutely. Putin talks a good game, especially when it comes to reducing Russia’s high beta economy’s dependence on energy, privatization, fighting corruption, and creating a rule of law. Follow through, not so much.
Very interesting to see Kudrin call Putin out so clearly. For most people, not a very healthy habit.