In conjunction with the Carnegie Endowment’s International Economics Program, the Moscow Center’s program monitors and analyses short- and long-term trends in the Russian economy, including macroeconomic developments, trade, commodities, and capital flows, and draws out policy implications for Russia and the post-Soviet space. The program also focuses on Russia’s integration into the global economy, with particular emphasis on trade, including in hydrocarbons and other commodities.
Russia faces bleak economic prospects for the next few years. It may be a case of managed decline in which the government appeases social and political demands by tapping the big reserves it accumulated during the boom years with oil and gas exports. But there is also a smaller possibility of a more serious economic breakdown or collapse.
The budget clearly illustrates its authors’ thinking. They fear popular discontent and so don’t want to risk taking unpopular steps. The regime’s main goal is short-term stability, so it keeps supporting the paternalistic governing model, which is increasingly trapped in the cycle of social spending.
Trade relations between the EU and Russia will likely remain stable for many years, even as the overall volume of bilateral trade gradually contracts. The EU will grow less dependent on Russia for energy security, while Russia will become less reliant on European finance, industry, and infrastructure.
The 2016 budget openly declares that Russia will not compete with the rest of the world in science and technology—at least not outside the defense sector. It suggests that the Kremlin has chosen to wait for oil and gas prices to increase (regardless of the likelihood of this actually happen) while continuing to support the military-industrial complex.
The parallels between the late Soviet era and contemporary Russia are indeed striking. But is this analogy applicable? Not entirely. To assess Russia’s future we should look not to its own recent history, but to the developments in countries that experienced similar transitions.
A new set of economic proposals by Sergei Glazyev defy generally accepted economic theories and historical experience and would probably ruin the Russian economy if accepted. Is there a political rather than an economic rationale to them?
Official statistics suggest that Russia’s oil and gas industry accounts for only a quarter of the country’s GDP. However, when other factors are factored in, the economy is seen to be much more heavily dependent on hydrocarbons. With oil prices looking set to stay low for a long time, this is bad news for the Russian economy.