Monday, December 1, 2014

Russia's Puny Economy and Dying Population

In August, while speaking with John Micklethwait and Edward Carr from The EconomistPresident Obama remarked:
Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.
Russia's puny economy and general decline is a common theme among those who disparage Russia. For example, in discussing the threat posed by Russia to European security, former UK Ambassador Craig Murray recently blogged:
Russia is not a great power. Its total GDP is about the same as Spain’s – and Spain is pretty knackered. Russia has even less economic clout as a basis for world domination than the UK. Russia’s economy is not diversified. It is over-dependent on raw commodity production and export.  ...  It will not be long before Poland plus the Baltic states are economically stronger than Russia.
Let's consider these claims. OK, Russia doesn't make anything except, um:

They also make cars, and build things such as nuclear power plants and pipelines.

So much for making nothing.

What about the lack of rushing immigrants?

Well, actually, in 2013 Russia was the World's second largest immigration haven. This year, who knows, Russia may come in as Number One counting the  million or so Ukrainian refugees driven to Russia as the result of Obama's decision to turn the Government of Ukraine into an illegitimate, Russophobic Nazified puppet.

As for Obama's statistic about life expectancy, wrong again. Male life expectancy at birth in Russia for the 2010-2014 period is 65, years. And while we wish all Russians long life, we note that it is highly efficient in economic terms for working males to die in the year of normal retirement: no pension costs, no prolonged geriatric health care!

In case it would surprise you, Obama was also wrong about Russia's population trend. Since 2010, Russia's population growth has been positive.

In fact, Russians are doing better at maintaining their population than most Western nations.

In virtually every Western state the fertility of the indigenous majority is well below the replacement rate of 2.1.

In Greece and Bosnia, for example, the locals are rapidly approaching extinction with a fertility rate of only 1.3. Germany and Italy are headed for oblivion too, with a fertility rate of only 1.4.

By the same standard, the Russians are doing slightly better with a fertility rate of 1.6 but not as well as the Brits and the Americans who appear to be maintaining something close to population stability with a fertility rate of 1.9.

But the latter figure conceals the extent to which the native born are losing out to immigrants. For example, in Britain, native-born mothers match the poor performance of Russian women with a fertility rate of 1.6, whereas Libyan immigrants are hitting 5.6. Many other immigrant groups are well over 4.0, and Bangladeshi mothers, at 3.9, are doing much better than their sisters back home in Bangladesh.

This process of benign genocide is the result of a toxic culture, that results in the mass slaughter of the unborn (730,000 in the US in 2013), holds in high regard billionaire pornographers such as Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconni, and makes instruction in fellatio part of the school curriculum.

But returning to the puniness of Russia's economy, no it is not the same size of that of Spain. According to the CIA Fact Book, Russia's GDP in 2013 was 56% larger than Spain's and if you adjust for purchasing power parity, the difference must be two to three times.

Likewise, the claim that Poland and the Baltic states will soon surpass Russia economically, is drivel. Poland and the Baltic trivialities have a combined GDP equal to less than one third of Russia's. Moreover, Russia's GDP per capita is greater than that of EU member Poland.

Another way of assessing the puniness of Russia's economy is to compare it sector by sector with that of America. In agriculture for example, on a per capita basis, US agricultural output exceeds Russia's by 9%. Well we know Americans tend to be overweight, so from this figure we can be fairly sure that Russians are adequately fed.

American industrial output per person exceeds Russia's by 88%, but if we make the comparison on a purchasing power parity basis, the difference is only 51%.

But where the US truly excels is in services, things like hedge fund management, Obamacare, aka compulsory healthcare insurance, porno movies, Walmart stores, advertising, cosmetic surgery and other doctors' fees, legal action, government bureaucracy, etc., etc. There they outproduce Russia at a staggering rate of five to one.

Are Russians to be pitied for their lack of services? Well they're not all complaining. In America, the white working class, we are told, like Obama less than ebola, giving him an approval rating of only 27%. In Russia, apparently, despite the puniness of the national GDP, President Putin has an approval rating almost twice Obama's rating, though that is down from sharply from the summer.

It's difficult to have any respect for a head of state who talks rubbish. Either Obama is a fool or an adherent of the Goebbels school of PR.

And one can have no respect at all for the editors of the Economist, a leader in mainstream media Russophobia, who made no effort to put either Obarma or their own duped readers straight.


Pepe Escobar: Will Russia, Germany save Europe from war?
...Take the compounded GDP of US, Germany, France and the UK and compare it to Russia; it's a victory by landslide. Then examine the strategic nuclear scenario, and it's a totally different story. GDP alone does not "win" anything.   

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