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Can a recession help Russia?

Tyler Cowen, of Marginal Revolution has an excellent article arguing that the United States, despite being the epicentre of the financial crisis, will probably survive it better than many other countries:

Its size is one reason why the United States has such a robust polity and economy. In bad times, international cooperation tends to break down, which increases the relative influence of larger economic and political units. Smaller countries, such as Belgium, are generally more dependent on international trade than the United States. And in truly dire situations, military power counts for more—and the United States accounts for almost half of the world’s defense spending.

Going by these reasons (Tyler has others which don't apply), you might think Russia is also in a good position. Small CIS countries which had gambled on free markets -- Georgia, Estonia -- will end up in hard times as falling demand cuts them off from foreign markets, while the Russian military has not lost its ability to dominate them. Russia, its stock market relatively insignificant, is also insulated from the financial downturn, except insofar as it affects energy prices. Hardline Russia-fearers such as Edward "New Cold War" Lucas will still be able to terrify us with tales of Kremlin power-games in the coming years.

I generally buy that narrative. But in the other side of the balance is the hint that Russia will continue to be a whipping-boy for its neighbours:

As its economy sinks and social tensions portend a summer of discontent, several mass media outlets in Tajikistan are busy identifying culprits for the Central Asian nation’s problems. By all appearances, the chief scapegoat is shaping up to be Russia. Local newspapers recently have blamed the Kremlin for everything from stoking the 1992-97 civil war in Tajikistan to drug trafficking, economic woes and even a possible future coup d’etat

I wouldn't suggest this as marking a larger trend, given that Europe and the EU are equally plausible scapegoats for Central Asia. But if economic hardship encourages xenophobia (and it often does) then the easiest targets are expatriate workers. In Central Asia, that mainly means Russians, and to a lesser extent Chinese. They could well find themselves in awkward position, even if Russia turns out to be, like the US, a 'counter-cyclical asset'.