Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's getting better

Abramovich still has 18,3 billion $$$. That's not much, but it is only the clean part of the money. So, don't judge. It's not easy to be a billioner. It's not easy to be the richest Russian with a name like Abramovich either.

Forbes has published the list of 100 richest Russians. The cumulative this year is by 107 Billion $$$ more then the last. That's a juicy 75% growth from last year's 141, up to 248 Billion for anybody who is counting. The most successful #2 in the list made a wooping 8.6 Billion $$$ in just one year, increasing his fortune by more the 200%. Like #1, he is first and foremost in the oil business. The list also features 14 brand new Billioners (20 new names in total), up from last year's 30 - 46% more happy people, totaling 44.

Now, I am not the one to look in someone else's pocket. But I have to ask. What about the people in the government? Personally, I would really like to know how much is Putin worth. Because methinks, he could give this list a boost. I would also like to know how much money is really in those people's pockets. Finally, I would like to know how does one makes so much money so fast in a country that claims to have capitalistic economy and an average salary of 1200$ a year?

At least, for some people it is getting better.

6 comments:

Irina Tsukerman said...

Time for some wealth redestribution, eh? ; ) *nudge, nudge*

FollowJesus said...

It is grevious to my heart that so few would hoard so much and not seem to care about the masses that are suffering so terrible. I pray that I will not do that in any way shape or form in my own life. If that greedy spirit does find it's way into my life, I am sure that the Holy Spirit will correct me.

May God have mercy on the hoarders of wealth before it is too late for them to repent.

Zeruel said...

Well, most of these billionaires attained their wealth in the Yeltsin era. The influence of the oligarchs have actually been reduced under putin, although they have been replaced by Siloviki; his former KGB buddies. And the Russian state still has the majority of the shares in monoliths such as Gazprom and Yukoil. Yukoil used to be privately owned by Mikhail Chodorkovsky, the oligarch that capitalized on the corrupt fiscal climate of the transitional period. With the understanding that Chodorkovsky wouldn't direct his wealth towards political ambitions, Putin would leave him unprosecuted. Chodorkovsky chose diffently so this is actually an example how Putin no longer tolerate the oligarchs.

However the gas monopoly that Russia has creates huge political leverage over the countries that are dependent on it. Ukraine receives gas under strongly reduced tariffs. So does Belarus, who can only run a centralized economy because of the Russian gas supply.

So you can imagine when Ukraine defies Russia the political turbulence it generates has consequences on the supply of (cheap) gas.

Well, Russia has huge gas reserves and to divert it's monopoly it uses various companies. Gazprom for Russian gas. RosUkrEnergo from and pipeline transfer between turkmenistan and Kazachstan.

The Russian energy market is a closed circuit. And the participants are close to Putin. However notwithstanding these excesses, the living standard of the average Russian have improved under Putin. Salaries have been raised. Pensions are paid in time.

Ofcourse there are still many problems. Intimidation of the parliamentary opposition, obstructed free press and the violence in Chechnya.

Yury Puzis said...

irina:

yeah, the time has come. viva la revolucione! :)

Yury Puzis said...

zeruel,

The situation in russia is not exactly the way you imagine it. Influence of the old breed has been reduced, but where did the influence go? Putin and his people. What did they do with it? Got rich, very rich. They themselves became the oligarchs. So, instead of oligarchs with some infuence on decision makers, we got oligarchs who _are_ the decision makers.

As to Hodorkovski, First, he is just a capitalist, an investor who operated within the law, whatever it was. If the law allows for things it shouldn't allow for, it is not Hodorkovski's problem. It's the problem of the parlament (Duma) who needs to fix the law. I am not trying to be an appologist for him. It is a basic principle of democratic free country: one cannot not be considered guilty of violating something that is not prohibited. Second reason is, "currupt fiscal climate" never left russia. In fact taking Yukos from Hodorkovski was a culmination of corruption and power abuse, from the president down to procecutors, police, judicial system e.t.c. Hell, even the church got it's hands dirty. Hodorkovski case is not an example of Putin not tolerating Oligarchs. That's what Puting would love you to believe. That's an example of power abuse to steal wealth from one oligarch and give it to other oligarchs. Wealth that was obtained billion times more legaly then it was taken away.

Ukraine no longer recieves very cheap gas. As of beginning of 2006 it is much more expensive then before, and is expected to reach european levels very soon. Also, russian ability to threaten with stopping the gas supply is very limited. They cannot stop the supply for long for technological reasons. They simply don't have were to store it, and they can't just "let it go".

The living standards are up. Maybe. By a bit. Compare that bit with the billions that flow to russia as a result of high oil and gas prices. Take natural growth of the economy into account. Factor in the inflation. And you will see that this bit is WAY below what it should have been. In fact, the "improvment" came almost DESPITE Putin and his disfunctional government.

Finally, you say there are "still" many problems. This implies some went away, and maby those will too. Wrong. Those problems are a result of calculated policy, not a leftover from the Yeltzin times.

Zeruel said...

I'm not saying that the regime of Putin is abundant with transparency, but neither are the finances of the Yeltsin oligarchs. Corruption is still widespread in Russia, but less than it used to be like 10 years ago. And Chodorkovsky knew the repercussions of an oligarch with political aspirations: prison or exile. But if he didn't, there would be (silent) clemency for the dubious procurement of Yukoil.

And you must agree that the internal stability of Russia and the relation with its neighbours has not faced any severe crisis, despite there were ample reasons too. E.U. enlargement(which included Russia's former satellites), Nato expansion, the war in Iraq(that it opposed).

And with the exceptions of vital economic interests such as oil and gas in which the state still has the majority of the shares, in other segments Russia is a free market backed by the necessary, functioning judicial institutions. The E.U. has become one of Russia´s biggest trading partners and the relations between the two powers are, economically, excellent.

Ofcourse, Russia has a major drug problem that is denied. Aids is denied. And many people are poor. But, there has also been improvement. Perhaps two steps forward and one stap back, but none the less improvement.