Crimea euphoria fades for some Russians

Comments (23)

And the real money isn’t being spent by Russia yet on the infrastructure requirements, i.e. the bridge to connect to the Russian mainland, electrical service, water and sewage treatment plants.

Jul 06, 2014 9:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
pyradius wrote:

Well, that sure was a short honeymoon, wasn’t it?

To anyone who likes to point to Putin’s approval rating, just remember folks, in Soviet Russia, Poll Rates You!

Jul 06, 2014 10:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
EconCassandra wrote:

@ pyradius –

Well, that sure was a short honeymoon, wasn’t it?

To anyone who likes to point to Putin’s approval rating, just remember folks, in Soviet Russia, Poll Rates You!

=================================

You may be interested in the truth for a change, or perhaps not, since it would disrupt your whole core belief system that the US wealthy class is somehow better and more deserving than everyone else.

I understand that for a sycophant such as yourself it could lead to serious mental issues — like thinking for yourself for a change.

By the way, since you mention your intimate knowledge of Russian polls, you should have mentioned that Putin’s popularity is around 80% approval rating, while Obama’s is challenging Bush II for the worst president the US has ever had.

In any case, since you asked, this is what Russia is doing for Crimea that Ukraine never did — lift them out of grinding poverty.

==============================

Russia agrees to open gambling zones in Crimea, Sochi

The Russian State Duma has approved a bill to establish gambling zones in Crimea and Sochi. It’s aimed at making the areas more popular for tourists, and attracting more investment.

The exact location of the gambling zones will be determined by the local government, ITAR-TASS said.

“The creation of a gambling zone in Crimea will attract additional investment to the region, create jobs and improve the tax base,” said Anatoly Karpov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee.

A gambling zone could add an additional $720 million into the Crimean economy, say analysts. Moreover “an increase in tourism as well as the development of hotel businesses and catering can be expected,” Karpov added.

The head of the Crimean government Sergey Aksyonov said that most probably the gambling zone will be located in Yalta, but where exactly has not been decided.

“It will be set in a certain single spot,” Aksyonov promised.

Investment is expected to be at least $100 million and could reach $1 billion. Many potential investors have already sent proposals to the authorities.

At the second reading of the bill on Friday government officials supported the amendments to establish a gambling zone in Sochi.

Most likely it will be located in Gornaya Karusel which is part of the Esto-Sadok Krasnaya Polyana resort. It currently belongs to Sberbank and does not attract tourists.

Gambling was restricted in Russia in 2009 and is only allowed in Altai, Krasnodar, Primorye and the Kaliningrad regions.

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I have to leave to do some personal things now, Pyradius.

So don’t worry if I seem non-responsive to your never-ending wealthy screed.

I will not abandon you in your never-ending search for truth, justice and the American Way.

Jul 06, 2014 3:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
UScitizentoo wrote:

> all the funds accumulated in Russia’s personal pension plans in
> 2014 had been spent on “anti-crisis measures” and on Crimea.

rasPutin is going to be OUT OF WORK soon.
Revolution in Moscow this August!

Jul 06, 2014 3:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EconCassandra wrote:

@ UScitizentoo –

> all the funds accumulated in Russia’s personal pension plans in
> 2014 had been spent on “anti-crisis measures” and on Crimea.

rasPutin is going to be OUT OF WORK soon.
Revolution in Moscow this August!

————————————————————–

Considering that the US economy, using the DOW as a proxy, has hit an all-time high of 17,000 last week.

That the DOW has been expanding an average CAGR of over 20% per year since its low point in 2009, which means using the same trend line that the DOW should hit 20,625 by this time next year.

That the Total Debt to GDP ratio in the first quarter of 2014 was an all-time high of 421%, when compared to the same ratio in 2007 just prior to the sub-prime housing market crash was about 384%, means the US economy is totally unstable in relation to its fundamentals.

In other words, it is far worse than in 2008 when it crashed.

So, your comment should read:

Obama is going to be out of work — along with the vast majority of the rest of the American people.

Thus there will be revolution in the US sometime this fall as the US economy goes down for the last time, as it should have in 2008 before the wealthy class got bailed out, leaving the rest of us to suck hind teat.

Jul 06, 2014 4:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EconCassandra wrote:

Let me add some substance to what I just posted above:

Sound or Unsound?

June 13, 2014 posted by Doug Noland

Add meltdown in Iraq to the long list of geopolitical risks.

As follow-up to last week’s quarterly “flow of funds” analysis, I’ll take a brief look at the Rest of World (“ROW”) category. ROW now holds an incredible $22.971 TN of U.S. Financial Assets. To put this number into some perspective, ROW holdings began the nineties at $1.874 TN. Ballooning U.S. Credit and attendant unprecedented Current Account Deficits saw ROW holdings surge $4.335 TN, or 230%, during the nineties. Over the past 22 years, ROW holdings of U.S. Financial Assets have inflated $21 TN, or over 1,000%. Essentially, the U.S. has unrelentingly flooded the world with dollar balances. This helps explain a lot.

The consequences of the massive inflation/devaluation of the world’s reserve currency have for a long time been readily apparent. For starters, our huge trade deficits with Japan and U.S. pressure for the Japanese to stimulate domestic demand played a prevailing role in Japan’s fateful late-eighties Bubble. The Greenspan Fed’s early-nineties stimulus measures then supported the inflation of myriad foreign Bubbles, certainly including Mexico 1992-1994. The Mexican bailout then ensured catastrophic “Terminal Phase” Bubble excess throughout the Asian Tiger “Miracle” Economies in 1996. An unstable global financial “system” nurtured serial major Bubbles, including Russia, Argentina, Iceland, Brazil, etc. throughout the nineties.

After ending the ‘90s at $6.209 TN, ROW holdings of U.S. Financial Assets doubled (again) in just over six years. The mortgage finance Bubble period (2002-2007) saw ROW holdings surge $8.7 TN, or 116%, to $16.2 TN. It’s my view that the historic dollar devaluation during this period played a major role in precarious Bubble excess throughout the Eurozone (especially at the periphery). The crisis year 2008 saw U.S., European and global financial chaos. During that year, ROW holdings dropped an unprecedented $813bn to $15.386 TN.

In the 21 quarters since the end of 2008, ROW holdings have jumped $7.585 TN, or 49%. The world was once again literally flooded with dollars. The global government finance Bubble thesis posits that these dollar balances (coupled with speculative flows) inundated the emerging markets, fueling unprecedented Credit expansion, financial Bubbles and economic malinvestment. China, in particular, succumbed to Bubble Dynamics on an historic scale.

I have what should be a rather basic question: Is global finance sound or unsound? Is contemporary “money” and Credit sound? The issue of sound money and Credit has occupied a lot of thinking and written pages over centuries. Today, everyone seemingly couldn’t care less. Anyone that argues against conventional thinking on the subject is considered a wacko.

Back in 1999 everyone was crazy bullish and there was the outward appearance of a New Age miracle economy. I didn’t buy into the exuberance for one simple reason: It was obvious to me that the underlying finance fueling the boom was unsound. In late-2007, with stocks at record highs and the economy and markets trumpeted for their impressive resiliency, I was convinced a major crisis was imminent. Why? Because there was absolutely no doubt that the underlying “money” and Credit was alarmingly unsound.

So, here we are in mid-2014. The financial mania is back, bigger and bolder than ever. U.S. and global markets are again lauded for resilience in the face of myriad issues. Here at home, it’s Miracle Economy 2.0. Meanwhile, the underlying finance driving the boom is the most unsound and dangerous ever. It’s as clear to me today as it was in 1999 and 2007.

It’s curious that the issue of unsound money and Credit is not today central to the economic debate. After all, history is unequivocal. Unsound “money” ensures financial, economic and social instability. It guarantees problematic price instability, deep structural economic impairment and income and wealth inequalities. Especially after the 2008 crisis, one would think the sound money debate would be front and center. Yet somehow the doctrine of inflationism completely dominates economic curriculums, thinking, policy and discourse. The specious doctrine that deflation is the overarching risk goes unchallenged.

Simplistically, the consensus view (doctrine) holds that the financial system and economy are best served by inflation (CPI) rising steadily at a rate of two to three percent annually. A little inflation is thought to grease the wheels. A steadily rising price level is believed to ensure that the economy can consistently grow out of potential debt problems. This fallacy is highly pertinent and should be addressed.

In a closed economy with generally stable finance and economic output, one might make a believable case for the benefits of steady annual 2-3% inflation. But especially during the past 25 years, we’ve seen major developments that wreak havoc on simple models and premises. “Globalization” ensures the closed system model is invalid. There have been as well myriad profound changes in the nature of economic output. The technology revolution, the proliferation of services throughout the economy and the rapid growth in healthcare are just the most obvious areas that have profoundly altered the nature of economic output – along with the ability of contemporary economies to readily boost the supply of things (absorbing purchasing power). Moreover, the past 25 years have been a period of extreme financial innovation.

I have argued that it is a myth that contemporary central bankers control CPI (for starters, they don’t control Credit/purchasing power or output). Indeed, if they strive for 2-3% annual inflation these days they will ensure acute financial and economic instability. In the U.S., 2-3% inflation equates with flooding the world with dollar balances and devaluing the world’s reserve currency. Moreover, modest consumer price inflation equates with a massive inflation of Federal Reserve “money” – liquidity that has profoundly altered risk perceptions, asset prices and market behavior throughout the system. As we’ve seen with 18 months of QE3, 2% consumer inflation can equate to 30% stock market inflation and double-digit price gains in national home price indices. Two percent CPI has equated with an unprecedented flow of finance into higher-yielding securities, instruments and products, in the process fueling a massive mispricing of corporate debt. Modest inflation (“stable prices”) has equated with virulent monetary disorder across the globe.

China international reserve assets have surged $700bn over the QE3 period to a record $3.948 TN. It is worth noting that Chinese reserves began 2002 (start of mortgage finance Bubble) at about $200bn. In many ways, the Chinese Bubble is the mirror image of the U.S. Credit Bubble. China is today also at the epicenter of unsound global “money” and Credit. It is my view that if not for the massive inflation of U.S. Credit (dollar devaluation), it would have been impossible for the Chinese Credit system to have operated without any constraint for so long. Unfettered cheap Chinese finance has allowed massive overinvestment throughout scores of industries (not to mention apartment units!). The world now faces the consequences: “disinflationary” pressures on many things as well as the specter of major unfolding Chinese financial issues.

June 13 – Wall Street Journal (Daniel Inman, Fiona Law and Enda Curran): “The commodity-backed loans at the center of a probe into an alleged financial scam at a Chinese port are part of a ramp-up in offshore borrowing by Chinese companies that Beijing is looking to tamp down. As Chinese authorities tightened credit at home in the past year, local firms instead looked abroad for financing. Asian-Pacific banks alone had $1.2 trillion in loan exposure to China at the end of 2013, up two-and-a-half times from 2010, according to Fitch… A chunk of the borrowing has been by Chinese firms taking out short-term overseas loans backed by commodities, part of an effort to lock in gains by borrowing offshore at lower rates, and investing the money at higher rates on the mainland. This lending has complicated Chinese policy makers’ attempts to slow rapid credit growth in the nation’s so-called shadow banking sector… Foreign banks have stepped up commodity-backed lending to China in recent years, a profitable business that now is looking increasingly shaky.”

I cannot blame all the world’s problems on unsound U.S., Chinese and global finance. The frightening unfolding Shia vs. Sunni debacle in Iraq and the Middle East obviously predates Western central banking, the dollar reserve system and unconstrained finance. Yet I look around the world and see initial consequences of the world’s greatest episode of unsound finance and financial mania. Asia is a tinderbox, and I fear that Chinese leadership will be tempted to lash out as their Bubble deflates. I look at Russia and the ongoing “Ukraine” crisis and I see deep Russian animosity towards their view of U.S. dominated global finance and economic arrangements. It seems obvious to me that Russia, China and others will increasingly see it in their best interest to change the “world order.”

I am an analysts and not a pessimist. I actually have an optimistic nature. Without it I wouldn’t be able to do what I do – including chronicling the world’s greatest Credit Bubble on a weekly basis for about 15 years.

But I look around the world today and am more worried about the future than ever before – Iraq, the Middle East, China and Asia, the emerging markets, Europe, Ukraine and Russia. The “social mood” is sour at home and abroad. Animosity. Anti-Americanism. Anti-Capitalism. Fragmentation. Conflict.

Compounding the problem, I see wildly distorted global central bank-induced Truman Show securities markets. I see a mirage of prosperity fueled by surging values of all kinds of financial (and real) assets. And I see endless electronic debit and Credit entries – contemporary finance – that is supposed to equate with unprecedented global wealth. Yet there’s a massive gulf between perceived and real wealth. I see incredible bullishness and denial in the face of deep structural issues for both U.S. finance and our economy. I see the mirage of U.S. prosperity dependent more than ever before on highly accommodating central bankers and unending bull markets. I just don’t buy the view of the U.S. as an oasis of prosperity impervious to global degradation.

On an almost globalized basis, there is this very troubling divergence between highly speculative and inflated securities markets – and a really uncertain future. I’ve argued that central bankers can’t make things better – that their monetary inflation only makes things worse. It seems obvious that a most protracted period of unsound “money” has created one hell of a mess. As for geopolitical risk, Ukraine and Russia remain issues. Asia is an accident waiting to happen. And, now, instability in the Middle East risks a blowup that could wreak havoc on global energy markets – not to mention a horrific human tragedy

Jul 06, 2014 4:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
pyradius wrote:

EconCassandra,

Alas my comment regarding Putin’s approval rating was a bit too subtle for you to grasp. My apologies, but we’ll just have to leave it at that.

That’s really exciting, a casino! Incidentally, there were already discussions underway with Chinese investment prior to Putin’s theft so you’ll forgive me if I am a bit underwhelmed.

Jul 06, 2014 4:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EconCassandra wrote:

If you like that one, you will absolutely love this one.

The Bear’s Lair: Systemic risk is worse now than in 2008

June 16, 2014 posted by Martin Hutchinson

Since the crash of 2008, huge attention has been paid by regulators to systemic risk, the risk that some event will cause the crash of the entire banking system, not just of an individual bank. Tens of thousands of pages of financial regulations have been written, and almost as many thousands of speeches have been bloviated, about how we now understand the dangers of “too big to fail” and therefore a crash such as occurred in 2008 can never happen again.

Needless to say this is nonsense; systemic risk is worse now than it was in 2008. What’s more, the next crash will almost certainly be considerably nastier than the last one.

The main issue addressed by legislation has been “too big to fail,” the idea that some banks are so large that their failure would cause a catastrophic economic collapse and hence they must be propped up by taxpayers. It will not surprise you to learn that I don’t regard this as the central problem.

Most of the risks in the banking system today are present in a wide range of institutions, all of which are highly interconnected and getting more so. Hence a failure in a medium-sized institution, if sufficiently connected to the system as a whole, could well have systemic implications. At the same time, pretty well all banks use similar (and spurious) risk-management systems, while leverage—both open and more dangerously hidden—is high throughout the system. Foolish monetary policy is foolish for all, and if a technological disaster occurs, it is likely to affect software used by a substantial faction of the banking system as a whole. There are a number of good reasons to break up the banking behemoths, but breaking them up on its own would not solve the systemic risk problem.

Systemic risk has been exacerbated by modern finance for a number of reasons. The system’s interconnectedness is one such reason, because of the cat’s cradle of derivatives contracts totaling some $710 trillion nominal amount (per BIS figures for December 2013) that stretch between different institutions worldwide.

Some of these contracts such as the $584 trillion of interest-rate swaps are not especially risky (except to the extent that traders have been gambling egregiously on the market’s direction). However, other derivatives, such as the $21 trillion of credit-default swaps (CDS) and options thereon, have potential risk almost as great as their nominal amount. What’s more, there are $25 trillion of “unallocated” contracts. My sleep is highly troubled by the thought of 150% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in contracts which the regulators can’t define!

The problem is made worse by the illiquidity of many of these instruments. Any kind of exotic derivative with a long-term maturity is likely to trade very seldom indeed once the initial flush of creation has worn off. These risks have been alleviated by trading standard contracts on exchanges. But even if banks’ risk management were good, failure of a major counterparty or, heaven help us, of an exchange, would cause systemic havoc because of its interconnectedness.

Another systemic risk worsened by modern finance is that of inadequate risk management. This has in no way been improved by the 2008 crash. More than three years after the crash (and nearly two years after Kevin Dowd and I had anatomized its risk management failures in “Alchemists of Loss”), J.P. Morgan was still using a variation on Value-at-Risk to manage its index CDS positions in the London Whale disaster. Morgan survived that one, but there seems no reason from a risk-management perspective why the Whale’s loss should not have been $100 billion just as easily as $2 billion—which Morgan would not have survived. Regulators have done nothing to solve this problem. Indeed, the new Basel III rules continue to allow the largest banks to design their own risk-management systems, surely a recipe for disaster.

You may feel that risk management, at least, is a problem exacerbated by the size of the too-big-to-fail banks. However, this is not entirely so. Each bank will commit its own trading disasters, so that a reversion to smaller banks would equally revert to smaller but more frequent trading disasters, surely an improvement (and the London Whale’s successors would be less likely to get megalomania and attempt to control an entire market). On the other hand, if the market as a whole does things not contemplated by the risk-management system—Goldman Sachs’ David Viniar’s “25-standard deviation moves, several days in a row” as in 2007—then since all banks use risk-management systems with similar flaws, they are all likely to break down at once, producing systemic collapse. As I shall explain below, I expect the next market collapse to take place in pretty well all assets simultaneously, with nowhere to hide. Hence a collapse in the global banking system’s risk management, affecting most assets, will cause losses to pretty well all significant banks. No amount of regulation will sort that one out.

Modern finance has also made systemic risk worse through its incomprehensibility, opacity and speed. Neither the traders nor the “quants” designing new second- and third-order derivative contracts have any idea how those contracts would behave in a crisis, because they have existed through at most one crisis, and their behavior is both leveraged to and separated from the behavior of the underlying asset or pool of assets. Banks do not know their counterparties’ risks, so cannot assess the solidity of the institution with which they are dealing. And in “fast-trading” areas, computers carry out trading algorithms at blistering speed, thus producing unexpected “flash crashes” in which liquidity disappears and prices jump uncontrollably.

The opacity of banks’ operations is made worse by “mark-to-market” accounting, which foolishly causes banks to report large profits as their operations deteriorate, the credit quality of their liabilities deteriorates and their value of those liabilities declines. This makes the banks’ actual operating results in a downturn wholly incomprehensible to investors.

The leverage problem has not gone away, in spite of all the attempts since 2008 to control it. Furthermore, much of the financial system’s risk has been sidelined into non-bank institutions such as money-market funds, securitization vehicles, asset backed commercial paper vehicles and, especially, mortgage REITs, which have grown enormously since 2008. These vehicles are less regulated than banks themselves, and where the regulators have tried to control them, they have got it wrong. For example, huge efforts have been made, backed by the banking lobby, to mess up the money market fund industry, which has only ever had one loss, and that for less than 1% of the value of the fund. Conversely, the gigantic interest-rate risks of the mortgage REITs, which buy long-term mortgages and finance themselves in the repurchase market, are quite uncontrolled and a major danger to the system.

Let us not forget the role of technology, a substantial and growing contributor to systemic risk. The large banks these days develop very little software of their own, relying instead on packages both large and small from outside suppliers. The “Heartbleed” bug of April 2014 showed that even tiny programs such OpenSSL, universally used, can be attacked in ways very difficult to defend against, and that bring vulnerability to the bank’s entire system. A malicious hacker somewhere in the vast and expanding Russo-Chinese sphere of influence, or even a domestic teenager, could at any time produce a bug that slipped through the protective systems common to most banks, damaging or even bringing down the system as a whole.

However, the greatest contributor to systemic risk, and the reason why it is worse today than in 2008, is monetary policy. It had been over-expansive since 1995, causing a mortgage finance boom in 2002-06 which was anomalous in that less prosperous areas and poorer people received more new mortgage finance than the rich ones. However, its encouragement to leverage has never been so great as in the period since 2009. Consequently, asset prices have risen worldwide and leverage both open and, more importantly, hidden has correspondingly increased.

In general, very low interest rates encourage risk-taking. Monetary policy makers fantasize that this will produce more entrepreneurs in garages. Actually, banks won’t lend to entrepreneurs, so it simply produces more fast-buck artists in sharp suits. The result is more risk. When monetary policy is so extreme for so long, it results in more systemic risk. It’s as simple as that.

Precisely what form the crash will take, and when it will come, is still not clear. It’s possible that it will be highly inflationary. If the $2.7 trillion of excess reserves in the U.S. banking system starts getting lent out, the inflationary kick will be very rapid indeed. However it’s also possible the mountain of malinvestment resulting from the last five years’ foolish monetary policy will collapse of its own weight without inflation taking off. Either way, the banking system crash that accompanies the downturn will be more unpleasant than the last one, because the asset price decline that causes it will not simply be confined to housing, but will be more or less universal.

After that, systemic risk may be very much reduced—mostly because we won’t have much of a banking system left!

Jul 06, 2014 4:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
EconCassandra wrote:

@ pyradius –

EconCassandra,

Alas my comment regarding Putin’s approval rating was a bit too subtle for you to grasp. My apologies, but we’ll just have to leave it at that.

That’s really exciting, a casino! Incidentally, there were already discussions underway with Chinese investment prior to Putin’s theft so you’ll forgive me if I am a bit underwhelmed.

=====================================

I think your knowledge of the facts is a bit underwhelming.

The plans for a casino in Crimea is appropriate because it is already widely known as a recreational area.

It is not well-suited for industry or farming as the rest of Ukraine, so this would be the best investment for the money.

I am sorry you are so priggy about gambling, but there are many places in the world — Monte Carlo, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, and last but not least the US “Native Americans” to name a few — that do quite well with gambling.

If you knew anything about economics or finance you wouldn’t make such a stupid statement.

—————————————————

The matter of the Chinese investment is a huge multi-decade mutual agreement with the Chinese to build infrastructure — pipelines, roads, bridges, etc. — between their countries to supply energy-hungry China with most of its energy needs for many decades.

This agreement (already signed) is the direct result of US ignorance and greed.

Is, in fact, Russian response to the US never-ending belligerence and ill-treatment of them for decades.

Lately, China has begun to receive the same type of treatment (i.e. “Obama’s Pivot” to Asia) that has managed to alienate China and cause further friction with Japan in the South China Sea.

What you can’t seem to understand is the US is simply an upgraded more modern version of the British Empire, more subtle perhaps, but with the same predatory neo-colonial attitude those who are inferior to the American Exceptionalism.

That phrase means the US wealthy class, after ruining the US economy with “free trade” is now engaged in destroying the global economy with their never-ending greed and stupidity.

Jul 06, 2014 5:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mrnukem wrote:

@EconCassandra Clearly everything you write comes from a totally fair and unbiased view of the United States of America. Never before have I seen such a fair minded, well thought out set of replies….or perhaps I am using wit and sarcasm to point out how very foolish you look comrade. I will let you decide. I am sure you will emotionally step back and give a truly open minded look at the point I am trying to make.

Jul 06, 2014 7:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Maserati123 wrote:

I KNEW IT I KNEW IT.Putin is a SHORT ASS.Any one with their brains so close to their ASS always do SHIT STUFF.It is NEVER a good thing to LIE.The truth eventually comes out.The BIBLE says”the truth will set you FREE.The people of Russia should have know NEVER to trust their leader,can they not know corruption when they see it.

Jul 06, 2014 11:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MonitorLizard wrote:

Econ-Cassandra–Find a hobby–you have way too much time on your hands.

Jul 07, 2014 7:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bastiattheman wrote:

EconCassandra- what’s your deal? It’s no small secret that it’s smarter to support Putin, regardless of his policies, than to not. In fact, this article says as much. Maybe Russia can support Crimea, but so far it has been at the expense of other Russians. Will the gambling zone work? Maybe, but you are counting your chicks a bit too early on that. Investors are very skittish and it wouldn’t take much for them to back out of the deal.

Jul 08, 2014 1:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
fhvfutljy wrote:

For evil and evil people! What your case is where the money goes Russian taxpayers? I pay taxes in their country. Shove their tongues.

Jul 08, 2014 5:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Loothor wrote:

@EconCassandra

“By the way, since you mention your intimate knowledge of Russian polls, you should have mentioned that Putin’s popularity is around 80% approval rating, while Obama’s is challenging Bush II for the worst president the US has ever had.”

Not even close to true, by the way. If you’re going to condescend to people and act knowledgeable, you should get your facts straight:

Obama’s lowest approval rating has been 39%.

George W. Bush’s sunk to 19%.

39% is more than double 19%. That’s a huge difference, especially since you’re talking about a country in which the President’s approval rating rarely exceeds 80% and takes large swings.

Obama’s low of 39% is actually the HIGHEST low of any U.S. President since Kennedy, who was only in office for two years… that basically makes him one of the most generally favorable Presidents of the last 50 years.

You made exactly the same mistake you were accusing pyradius of…. Don’t lecture on things you don’t understand. The US is a country that is largely locked in an idealogical war with itself, the only time a US President can hit levels of 80% is when there is a perceived need for everyone to pull together, i.e. during WWII, the early Cold War, the Gulf “War”, and immediately following 9/11.

If I were a Russian, I don’t think I’d view Putin’s high and almost never-changing approval level as a positive. It seems indicative of a population that does not hold its leader to a high level of accountability, which is particularly disturbing given that by the time this term is over Putin will have been president for 14 years and will be eligible to run again as far as I understand it. And that’s pretending Putin wasn’t running the puppet show when Medvedev was President, which seems pretty evident seeing as Medvedev was endorsed by Putin and is now Prime Minister.

In the US, most of us would view that as allowing for an irresponsible and dangerous consolidation of political power and largely detrimental to maintaining fair representation… a dangerous combination in a country that hasn’t historically been a paragon of fair representation for its population.

Jul 08, 2014 12:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
lethalfang wrote:

No problem. Escalate the war against Ukraine, until it bankrupts Putin.
Let Putin repeat our mistake in Iraq. Drag him into it.

Jul 09, 2014 4:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:

There’s a lesson here, which will, of course, not be learned by hubristic U.S. politicians: In most cases, if we leave foreign populations to their own devices, they will eventually enhance their governance and be no threat to the U.S.

Jul 10, 2014 10:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:

Time for Crimea to pay tribute to the King Putin. You had your chance to reject Russia and create your own future. Now you are back to being a rotting Soviet satellite. In America, everyone goes to party. In Russia, “The party comes to YOU”.

Jul 10, 2014 10:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Doc62 wrote:

Folks, let’s leave Eco-Cassandra alone. She obviously is manic and needs a medication adjustment. She forgot to mention Boko Harem too?

Jul 10, 2014 10:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse

This isn’t really a surprise, and the Russians richly deserve to pay the price for screwing around with someone elses borders in contravention of international treaty and law.

It’s the poor bloody Tartars you can’t help feeling sorry for, screwed over by the Russians decade after decade, just because they happen to come from a place others consider strategically important.

Jul 10, 2014 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
LMP1979 wrote:

Dictators like Putin are all the same. Whether they are fascist or socialist doesn’t matter. Its like two teams wearing different color shirts. They might claim to oppose each other, but they are ultimately the same.

Jul 10, 2014 12:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
RMax304823 wrote:

Those Russians who supported the Crimean and Ukranian excursions probably expected a quick war. Who doesn’t?

But the older citizens of Russia probably still remember the long, long Cold War, which gave them tanks instead of refrigerators. If they’re old enough they’ll remember Afghanistan too.

It’s easy to start a war. It’s a lot more difficult to get out of it. As someone said, “The only way to end a war quickly is to lose.”

Jul 10, 2014 3:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Mister_Mister wrote:

Love it or leave, it Crimeans!

Jul 11, 2014 12:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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