Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Russian Decline Is Accelerating: GDP Down 4.3% In 1q 2015

Russia’s statistics agency, Goskomstat, has yet to post its official first quarter figures. We can imagine that the statistics agency is under pressure to downplay negative results. As it now stands, Russia’s recession is more than twice as deep as Medvedev had promised a month earlier.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sanction FIFA And Putin At The Same Time: Take The 2018 World Cup From Russia

The soccer World Cup gives the host country prestige, publicity, and international recognition. The World Cups in 2010 and 2014 hosted by South Africa and Brazil–two BRICS countries–signaled their arrival on the world scene. A third BRICS member, Russia, is scheduled to host in 2018. The two largest public relations feathers in Vladimir Putin’s hat are the Sochi Olympics and now the upcoming World Cup.
Nothing could be worse for Putin than losing the 2018 World Cup; it would be more severe than the economic recession and Russia’s declining living standards. Russians can live without imported foods and Turkish vacations, but they may not tolerate being branded as a rogue nation not deserving a World Cup.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Russian Crisis With No End In Sight, Thanks To Low Oil Prices And Sanctions

Former Russian prime minister Evgeny Primakov warned that, if Vladimir Putin continues his Ukraine policies, Russia will become a pariah third-world petro state. The fundamentals of the Russian economy, as it enters 2015, suggest that Russia is fulfilling Primakov’s prophesy. Russia’s fate depends on economic factors beyond its control (energy prices and gas markets) and on Putin’s continued international adventurism, which he is loath to abandon for fear of regime change. Putin can no longer keep his promise to the Russian people of prosperity and stability. No wonder his propagandists are fighting full time to convince the West to drop its sanctions. Unlike the 2008/9 financial crisis, Russia faces a long and deep recession because the underlying causes are unlikely to go away in the near term. 

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Europe Gives $260 Billion For Anti-EU Greece But Balks At $65 Billion For Pro-Europe Ukraine

Greece’s election of an anti-Europe government showed it wants out. Ukraine’s EuroMaidan revolution shows it was willing to risk its existence to become a part of Europe. Europe has showered recalcitrant Greece with hundreds of billions of bailout funds while begrudgingly giving Ukraine tens of billions just to keep it alive, even though Ukraine is fighting Europe’s war against Russian expansionism.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

More Putin Funnies: Watch Him Steal A Chair at Minsk 2

A hilarious You Tube from the Minsk 2 negotiations of world leaders over the Ukraine crisis shows Putin stealing a chair from host Alexander Lukashenko.

The You Tube shows Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin entering the negotiating hall with Lukashenko solicitously directing his guests to their seats. All of a sudden, Putin rushes towards Lukashenko and grabs the chair he is holding (either for himself or Merkel) and forcefully pushes it forwards out of Lukashenko’s grasp as Lukashenko speaks to Merkel. Putin tries to sit down but is caught in a quandary. Merkel is standing and even he knows not to sit while a lady is standing. He pops up and down a couple of times on his chair, glaring at Merkel as if to say: “Take a seat Frau Merkel so I can sit down.”

Apparently Putin is a stickler about the height of the chair in which he sits in meetings with other world leaders. Putin’s chair should be high enough that he does not look short relative to others. Simultaneously, the chair should not be so high that the Russian president's legs dangle in the air like a diminutive school boy. Preparation of the chair in advance for Putin is the most important tasks for his entourage before each of his public appearances, and here was Lukashenko unknowingly offering Putin's chair to someone else.

Maybe the negotiations would have stopped at that point if Merkel got Putin’s chair.