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Russia Trumps West With BRICS Bank

Published: July 15, 2014 (Issue # 1819)



  • President Vladimir Putin arriving at the Planalto Palace in Brazilia Monday.
    Photo: Presidential Press Service / Kremlin.ru

Top of the agenda at the sixth summit of the BRICS developing nations beginning Tuesday is the founding of two multilateral financial institutions designed to erode the dominance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as arbiters of the global economic system.

For Russia, the creation of a $100 billion BRICS development bank and a reserve currency fund worth another $100 billion is a political coup. Just as the West freezes Russia out of its own economic system as punishment for its politics in Ukraine, Russia is tying itself into the financial superstructure of the next generation of economic heavyweights: India, Brazil, China and South Africa.

The World Bank and the IMF have come under criticism from the rapidly developing BRICS, who together account for 20 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world's population. In their view, the two financial institutions are dominated by the rich nations of the G7 and attach stringent conditions to their lending that impinge on the economic sovereignty of its members.

Far from assuaging their complaints, efforts to reform the 70-year-old institutions have stalled. Proposed updates to the IMF that would grant increased influence to developing economies have been languishing in the U.S. Congress since 2010 and were blocked once again in April.

If the framework agreements due to be signed at the BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, are ratified at home, the new bank and the reserve fund could come just in time for the BRICS countries. U.S. tightening of the dollar supply starting last year has caused a wave of crises in developing nations as the cash inflows of the past decade begin to reverse themselves.

Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates the annual need for infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income nations at $1 trillion dollars and rising far beyond its own capacity. The World Bank reports that it gave out $52.6 billion in 2013, not all of which went to infrastructure projects.

The New Order

Last week, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov shed some light on the mechanics of the fledgling institutions.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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