Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor

Time to Blackball Russia’s Autocratic State

From the Financial Times:

Here we are again. Syria’s government has killed dozens more of its own citizens, and what does its old ally, Russia, do? It obstructs a substantive UN Security Council response. This has long since become a predictable story, but it raises a fundamental question: what is Russia’s place in today’s world?

Russian membership in western organisations is not exactly yielding positive results. The G7+1 cannot become a G8 until Russia begins to act like a mature free-market democracy. It’s hard to work up much optimism on that score with President Vladimir Putin claiming that recent protests in his country are choreographed by western spies and that he couldn’t make it to the latest G8 summit at Camp David because he was busy putting together his new cabinet – always a complicated chore in an authoritarian country. Mr Putin’s absence made little difference as discussion turned to Afghanistan and the eurozone, where Russia can’t help, and to Iran and Syria, where Russia is part of the problem.

So if its government isn’t interested in western clubs, can we classify Russia as a dynamic emerging market? Not a chance. In China, a Communist party has engineered a complex, high-powered economic engine that has lifted the country from abject poverty to become the world’s second-largest economy. India has produced some of the world’s more innovative private sector companies. Brazil is now an increasingly self-confident democracy with a well-diversified economy and a growing international profile.

Russia, by contrast, has become an authoritarian state built on Mr Putin’s reputation as a tough guy and the export of oil, gas, other natural resources and little else. Corruption is endemic. Graft is a particular problem in most developing countries: Transparency International’s global corruption index ranks Turkey at 61st, Brazil at 73rd and China at 75th. Russia ranks far worse at 143rd.

In addition, much of Russia’s commercial elite still views the country as a wealth generator but not a long-term investment bet. Capital flight, a chronic problem, has reportedly accelerated since Mr Putin’s re-election in March. The country’s population is falling – because healthcare is poor, socially driven diseases such as alcoholism rampant and because well-educated Russians are leaving in search of better opportunities elsewhere. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia inherited 148m citizens. Today there are fewer than 142m. UN studies have warned that the population could fall by 30 per cent over the next four decades, with obvious implications for growth.

Are things improving? During Russia’s most recent Potemkin election campaign, Mr Putin spent more time bragging about the stability he established during his last stint as president than about any grand plans for the country’s future. Russia is also about to become less transparent as Mr Putin has formed a cabinet with reformers who may not have real power and brought administrative heavyweights on to his presidential staff. The risk is that policy will be made not in Russia’s ministries but behind closed doors inside the Kremlin.

Mitt Romney, the Republican party’s likely presidential nominee, recently referred to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe”. That’s absurd, not because Russia isn’t increasingly antagonistic to US interests, but because it is becoming increasingly less relevant – as a political power or as an attractive emerging market. Russia’s fellow Bric nations may have no interest in dismissing Moscow from their club but the rest of us can (and should) stop speaking of Russia as if it belongs in this company.

There are those in Russia who argue that their country can become a modern European state rather than the “Eurasian nation” of Mr Putin’s dreams. These include some of the reformers around prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, much of Russia’s urban middle class, internet and social media-savvy young people, a new generation of entrepreneurs fed up with byzantine restrictions and regulations, intellectuals and much of the media. Members of all these groups want a democratic Russia with an innovative, modern economy driven by private sector ingenuity, and they have recently taken to the streets to make themselves heard.

For the moment, the Kremlin has managed to ignore these voices, acting like neither a Bric nor a G8 member in good standing. Washington should not make the same mistake. If US and European leaders genuinely want to build new ties with Moscow, these are the people they should be talking to.

The writers are president of Eurasia Group and chairman of Roubini Global Economics


30 Responses to “Time to Blackball Russia’s Autocratic State”

BillMay 30th, 2012 at 2:17 am

I applaud you on calling Russia out. They have demonstrated once again their hollow being by being absent of any morality and conscience to stop an ally of theirs from wanton abandonment of any decency as they kill their own citizens, including the innocent children as is happening in Syria. Albeit though it seems this is the Russin fate – to continue to support their own axis of evil allies in the middle east until ultimately Russia is dragged into their own waterloo there on the hot sands.

Mantenidis KMay 30th, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Please Stop the "democratization" made by usa around the world. Enough tragedies you provoqued at Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Jugoslavia, Syria etc. etc. for obvious reasons (sell off your marcial industry's arms and produce new arms to use against populations!).
Enough is enough with Makiavelism, Cristianism and killings of innocent people !
Same on You, Beasts !

Mantenidis KMay 30th, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I didn't write about all kind of goods and energy's resources your companies thieve after destruction of nations and populations at the name of "human rights" and "democracy's" words, for obvious reasons!

StanislavMay 30th, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Absolutely true. Thanks from Russia. Please help us get rid of that moron in Kremlin, the whole nation is increasingly fed up with him and his command of bandits.

Mantenidis KMay 30th, 2012 at 7:20 pm

You Liked Bushs, Dick Cheney, Donald Henry Rumsfeld Voltures, who must be condamned for human genocides and Clinton who did the same and destroyd any kind of finance regulation just for the god of wall streat's golden boys and their bosses!

Mantenidis KMay 30th, 2012 at 7:28 pm

corrections a) you provoqued in Iraq …
b) .. Christianism …
c) . .. wall street …

MrSwiftMay 30th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Mantenidis K
You seem to be resorting to the usual tactics that Kremlin paid posters normally use: instead of adressing the problem in essence, they point at something unpleasant – no matter how irrelevant to the topic it is.

bill goldmanMay 30th, 2012 at 9:54 pm

The US and the West is disturbed by Putin's opposition and resistance to American hegemony. The US has a thousand military bases around the world. Russia has perhaps a dozen. The US is a rogue and pariah state invading Iraq on false assumptions about WMDs and Afghanistan by stretching the actions of Al Qaeda into those of the Taliban. It led NATO'S assault and aggression against Libya by more lies about "free fly" Zones and succeeded because China and Russia were snookered. If Putin were leading, a resolution barring air action would have unfolded. Instead Medvedev floundered, the same Medvedev that you glorify. The US stealth attack on S. Ossetia via Georgia's Saakashvili was set on its ear by Putin as a bi-lpartisan scream was heard coming from Biden and McCain. Putin is right (as is China) in blocking anti-Syrian resolutions at the UN. In your effort to smear Putin and appease the Wall Street crowd that you represent are you asking him to silently accept the so-called phony anti-missile defense that targets Russia, not Iran. And speaking of Iran, are you ready to cheer lead joint US/Israel bombings there which can escalate into a nuclear war. Perhaps, Roubini, you earned credit for courrectly calling the 2007/8 recession. Big deal! As far as I'm concerned you wiped it all away bi co-authoring this article.

GuestJune 1st, 2012 at 12:31 am

Mr. Goldman, although you make some valid points for sure, I don't think all of your conclusions, or your criticism of Roubini, are well founded. But there was one thing in particular that I wanted to signal. The U.S. has close to a thousand bases in some 30 foreign countries for a reason. They are here, there, and everywhere in large part to protect the global shipping lanes and airspace. In return, the dollar is still the global reserve currency — and this acts as a vital subsidy on our profligate way of life. It's a sort of devil's bargain, I guess. The main point is that our ubiquitous bases are less a sign of belligerence (indeed, I sometimes wonder whether we could sustain a real war here) than a necessary adjunct to "the American way of life," which involves living far beyond our means on a scale that has perhaps never been paralleled. And right now, we're stuck. Nouriel Roubini is far more than "just" the economist who correctly called 2007/08. To say that he wrote this (or anything, ever) to appease Wall Street or anyone else is nonsense. I always read him because I know he says what he believes.

LimeMay 31st, 2012 at 6:07 pm

There's nothing even near truth in author's words about Russia's economic and geopolitical position.

GuestJune 1st, 2012 at 12:50 am

Peter Lee wrote a perspicacious article on the Houla atrocity:

Perhaps the most important fact it underlines is that sometimes we really don't know who is doing what, or why. As tempting as it may be to equate the claim of ignorance in this case with the ostrich-excuse of civilians living near the Nazi death camps during WWII, sometimes ignorance really IS ignorance. More important, the Houla atrocity should not be allowed to be used as a reason to ignore the issue of American drone attacks by this President.

VeraJune 1st, 2012 at 7:51 am

It is the brain-washing article following the main trands. I should put in on a sale with 90%discaunt/ Dear Americans! Please, leave us, russians alone with all our stupid habbits, bad cars, poverty. If you put too much attantion – we will die together. We also are scared of death – but a litlle less then you, though.

rdtcehorJune 1st, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Roubini, Roubini, you stand by your tribesmen. Putin tricked your fellow Berezowski in making him President – then he ended your reign over Russia, your starving and robbing of its people. Where were you when the oligarchs PLUNDERED Russia starving its people? Applauding with your banking buddies, hailing the immoral "shock doctrine", no? But Vlad took Yukos before your buddy Rothschild could have seized it and BOY! did he pay back Russia's foreign debt with the oilmoney of nationalized Yukos! That assured russian independence and it will stay that way. You fool. Vlad ousted your crew and LIFTED his peoples living standards by ending your death grip on its people. How cruel are you to side with these gangsters? Are you immoral to the max? Go democratize your high density security data mining Plutocracy that is your host country. Leave all other alone for goodness' sake and shove your cruelty up your buddies throats.

John CameronJune 1st, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Looks like the The tribe has Putin directly in its sights for not following Israel's demands that the US take out Syria and thereby insure Israel's dream of hegemony over Mideast oil.

The current atmosphere in the western media reminds me of what was going on Russia in the 1990's when the American media swooned over Boris Yeltsin at the same time Yeltsin was selling out Russia's assets to the robber baron oligarchs. Once Putin got into power and has tried to get the stolen state assets back, the Rothschild dominated western media suddenly changed course and started to criticize Putin more and more vehemently.

As more and more of these so called "popular orange revolutions" in places like Iraq, Tunisia, and now Syria turn out to be nothing more than the usual American led coups, the threat to world peace increases daily. Only Putin and China seem willing to counter this increasing threat coming from Israel and its vassal state America.

GuestJune 2nd, 2012 at 8:14 pm

No one would believe how much latent anti-semitism exits were it not for the Internet. Some of you people sound reasonably intelligent — you can speak and write English. That's a good start. Now, why don't you do something about your miserable racist attitudes? Come back and carefully read what you wrote, and realize that you sound absolutely crazed. Some sort of inner change is in order.

rdtcehorJune 3rd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

On language skills: If you knew the opinion of MANY high profile writers in mens' history on your chosen subject you would abstain from linking it to intellectual ability. As a start I recommend to look up the spiritual leader of Israeli Shas party, in coalition with Netanjahu providing 4 ministers. It is Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and you please go to look up his attitude towards non-"chosen" people. Please consider this man is an accepted head of a party that occupies 4 ministers and then think once unbiased about what and where "racism" is to be found. Next you might look up "Peres buy up" video on youtube and reflect hard on what is going on, please. As a cherry on top you might look for CIA Veteran Philip Giraldi and his evaluation of Israeli influence in US politics, or look for Prof. Mearsheimer and Walt on the same topic… Just look it up and reflect on it.

GuestJune 5th, 2012 at 12:30 am

Huh? Where do you get the notion that I'm "choosing sides?" Is there anything in my post — anything at all — that suggests I support this or that rabbi's position, on any topic, or that I support AIPAC, or believe there is no such thing as pro-Jewish bias, or . . . no. Sorry. This is too boring, and too irrational. The problem of imputing positions to people who did NOT take those positions is entirely yours.

One thing is for sure — when you see antisemites coming out of the woodwork, it is never a good sign. Maybe it's later than I think. I tend toward optimism, probably much too strongly, which is another reason I appreciate the corrective that Roubini provides.

buzzJune 2nd, 2012 at 9:27 pm

It’s strange that the anti semites are so keen to come to putin’s defense. I can’t help but suspect that these are actually Russian commenters including “john Cameron”. Putin wouldn’t be the first czar or general secretary to organize anti semitism.

It’s good of the authors to make this gesture but I’m not sure where it can lead. Naming medvedev among the hopeful reformers, even only as someone they supposedly gather round, sounds blithe and naive. You can’t know anything about Russia and not know that medvedev is 110% putin’s man.

KathyJune 2nd, 2012 at 11:26 pm

It is Putin's choice to not attend G8. Does it matter other than possibly ruffling a few fellow leaders' feathers that are not in such great positions themselves to criticize, point fingers. The key concern for Russia will be the method Putin takes to bring about prosperity for his citizenry — swiping? bullying? common sense? Time will tell us that of course.

GuestJune 7th, 2012 at 3:00 am

Your concern would be credible if you similarly wrote about Israels racist apartheid on Palestinians. Masters of chutzpah they then claim to be victims with their tired old refrain about ant-semitism. Why do you not write about blackballing them? Probably because the likes of AIG, Laurence Summers, Rubin, and a whole host of other people who brought us into this financial mess through their greed would not like what you write. So don't be a hypocrite. Thanks god there are other jews like Chomsy, Finkelstein and a lot others to educate us on all this. And pleeease spare me the anti-semitism tripe. Remember the Arabs are Semites too, but Israeils and worse the Ashkanazi's have taken over that word too. Roubini read the books by your fellow jews like Chomsky. You are a great economist so don't slime yourself.

Guest 1June 8th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Having followed Roubini for a long time, I have no reason to think he writes what Summers and Rubin want him to write, or that he hasn't studied Chomsky. Why do you insist on imputing positions to him that he has not only not taken, but has clearly opposed?

If I encounter antisemitism and say so, does it make sense to say — "but there are other forms of ethnic or racial bias, too!" Who suggested there weren't? Who said anything about Israel, much less in favor of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians? I see nothing in this article to provoke this type of criticism — and I myself am not so sure Roubini is right this time. The POINT is, it MATTERS on what basis you critique him here. To dredge up stuff like "tribesman" — as some people did with their first breath, no less — is vile. And I'll be damned if I won't say so out loud. It's repugnant.

GuestJune 10th, 2012 at 7:32 pm

I too have followed Roubin for a long time, and I did notice a point when he reduced his criticism of the US economic policy (before 2008). I speculate that this is due to the strong pressure from his peers like Summers and others. After all, at his level he is more vulnerable to them then nobodies like *maybe* you and me.

You impute that he *has* clearly opposed the israeli aparthied system. Just show me a pointer to that and I'll grant you your case. If you cannot do that, it seems like you have gotten into a littel tempest over what I percieve as selective critiiscm. Please note that this is especially so as there is a blanket censorship on all things critical of Israel. You only have to read the Israeli papers and compare them with the main US media to see that.
So once again selective omission is a POINT that MATTERS, there's too much of it going on thats damaging our democracy as it is.

Vlad KickassJune 14th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

It's easy to bash something you don't understand and frankly Bremmi and Ruby have no clue in regards to anything that happens in the 1200 year old proud nation. This rhetoric, which is mimicked by idiots in congress and senate, only reinforces Putin's view on how hostile US really is. Do they really think that confrontation with Putin will bring any change? And unlike the British Poodle, or some irrelevant east European countries, the Great Bear will never dance to the tune of NATO. .

Andrey SubbotinJuly 6th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

When saying "blackball", what do you actually mean? Russia is #9 world GDP (was #12 in 2005, stagnation indeed kills us), #3 in military expeditures and a UN security council member. Pretending we are not there is not exactly an option. Not trading with us is perhaps an option for US, but not for Europe. Not inviting us to G7/8/whatever is possible, but who cares – the G8 gimmick was invented as a handout for Yeltsin. Anything else?

kamran12April 27th, 2013 at 7:48 am

McGuyver never would’ve attempted. A vision of a SOPA future, perhaps.) But we’re back on now and I managed to put this one together while unplugged. Last week we got mostly dancey songs. Dog Food