Streetwise Professor

November 6, 2009

Whinging, On Cue

Filed under: Economics,Financial crisis,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 11:03 am

Vladimir Putin is whining, predictably, about the GM board’s decision to terminate the sale of Opel:

“We will have to take into account this style of dealing with partners in the future, though this scornful approach toward partners mainly affects the Europeans, not us,” Putin told a cabinet meeting in Moscow. [nL5471607]

“GM did not warn anyone, did not speak to anyone … despite all the agreements reached and documents signed. Well, I think it is a good lesson.”

Wah, wah, wah.  Here’s more:

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lashed out at General Motors on Thursday after a Russian-backed bid to buy carmaker Opel fell through, hinting that there may be repercussions down the road because of GM’s “disregard for its partners.”

“Nobody warned anybody about anything,” Putin said, referring to the surprise decision by the U.S. company not to sell its European unit. State-owned Sberbank and parts maker Magna had made preliminary agreements to buy the European carmaker, with GAZ Group named as a potential industry partner.

“Everyone was notified after the fact, despite the agreements that had been reached and the documents that had been signed, including legal ones,” Putin said.

The board’s ruling “doesn’t harm our interests, but it shows a rather peculiar communication style that our American partners use with their counterparts,” Putin said. “This is a good lesson. … We must take into account this kind of cooperation with our partners in the future,” he said, adding that the decision primarily showed disrespect to GM’s European partners.

“Peculiar communications style.”  Priceless.

Putin should recognize that the real lesson here is that the only way Russian companies were in the running for a piece of Opel at all was because of political machinations and a combination of bribery and blackmail (by the Germans, in cahoots with the Russians), rather than a rational economic calculation.  While nursing his hurt ego (when somebody says “it doesn’t hurt me” you can bet it really hurts), Putin should consider why the prospect of partnering with Russian firms is so repulsive that it is necessary to rely on such means to prevail.

Here are a couple of other priceless gems from other Russian winners.  First, from our old buddy Oleg Deripaska:

The problematic deal with Opel, with its international political overtones, is wrapped up in the “superstitions of the U.S. State Department,” Mr. Deripaska earlier told the Russian press. The State Department has denied Mr. Deripaska a visa to visit the U.S., although he recently visited the country in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and met with Detroit executives.

I guess that Detroit meeting was a real success, huh, Oleg?  (BTW, it is pretty disgusting that the FBI acted as an intermediary in this way.  This whole episode deserves a lot more scrutiny that it has received.)  And just where did those superstitions originate?  It must be a trial to be so misunderstood.

And here’s the reaction of a United Russia parliamentary official:

“The motivation, it seems to me, is very simple: to keep Opel within the zone of political and economic influence of American business and American politics,” said Oleg Morozov, deputy head speaker in the lower house of Russian parliament for Mr. Putin’s United Russia Party.

The paranoia is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Until these attitudes are replaced by a more critical appraisal of the reasons for Russian companies’ unattractiveness to potential foreign partners, the country can count on remaining in Putin’s purgatory.  Have fun with that.

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