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Where Will Russia's Economy Be in 5 Year's Time?

The outlook for Russia’s economy at this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is very different very different than one year ago.

Published: May 23, 2014 (Issue # 1812)


Last May, Russia's economic growth far outshone that of both Europe and the U.S., which were then only beginning to emerge from a long period of stagnation. The economic integration of Russia and the West also seemed unstoppable. Now, in 2014, Russia stands on the brink of recession and the fallout from its clash with the West over the crisis unfolding in Ukraine risks demolishing more than two decades of economic bridge-building. Caught between the slump and the West’s cold shoulder, Russian officials have begun making noises about looking to fast-growing Asian economies for new partners and sources of growth.

In the run-up to the forum, The St. Petersburg Times asked three business leaders from different industries to look through the mists and predict how they think the Russian economy would fare over the next five years.

Philip Halperin

Independent director and financial risk advisor, former chief risk officer at Alfa Bank and advisor to the executive board at Gazprombank.

1. What will be the main driver of the Russian economy over the next five years?

Using the word “driver” to mean “major determinant,” rather than “primary boom,” the main driver of the Russian economy — aside from oil, gas and armaments — is concentration and lack of competition. What Russia has is not a capitalist system, but crony capitalism. Insiders are insulated from the slings and arrows of fortune, and margins are protected. We see, for example, insider agreements to get rid of food and electronics markets that undercut the prices offered by favored retailers, and the removal of exchange points in favor of banks. Competition is arranged away, and the consumer is not king. This has led to a sort of new “zastoi,” or stagnation, reminiscent of the Brezhnev years of the Soviet Union.

This fact has become part of the second driver, or major determinant, of the Russian economy — disillusionment.

Business owners and managers milk profits rather than re-invest them, and the promise of the economy is becoming more a “was” than a “will be.”

2. Where do you see Russia-Western economic cooperation in five years?

Russia is a seller of raw materials — which in five years will still be consumed by Western nations, each according to its perception of its own interests — and as a consumer of finished products. In other words, Russia is a sort of a colony of the West. This is an old pattern, dating back to the days of Veliky Novgorod and the Hanseatic League — Novgorod exported lumber and amber, and brought the products of Western mills. The major advanced products of Russia — armaments and space technology — will be not purchased by the West for political reasons.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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