Robert Skidelsky
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Articles from Vedomosti (Ведомости)

Russia’s offshore aristocracy
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, June 05, 2008

 
When Vladimir Surkov talked about Russia’s ‘offshore aristocracy’ he meant that small class of rich Russians who own everything through offshore companies. They don’t pay tax in Russia, they do their IPOs abroad, and they do deals affecting millions of Russians without any regulatory body in Russia knowing what happens. Surkov wants these people to own Russian assets through Russian companies, do their business under Russian jurisdiction, with control from Russian regulators.
 
More significant than the offshore aristocracy of wealth is the offshore aristocracy of talent. The 17th century French mathematician Blaise Pascal said that France would become a land of idiots if 300 scientists left the country. According to the BBC, World Bank

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American idealism gone wrong
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, May 22, 2008

 
US Republican presidential candidate John McCain has proposed a radical new initiative. In his first year as president he would call a summit to set up a League of Democracies. The League would be equipped with a formidable military capacity, based in part on NATO, and in part on the ‘new quadrilateral security partnership’ in the Pacific between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Needless to say neither Russia nor China would be invited to join the League: indeed McCain would exclude Russia from the G8.
 
Why is such a new politico-military presence needed? After all, we already have the United Nations. The League is necessary, argues McCain, because in matters vital to the United States, such as fighting Islamic terrorism,

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Russia under Medvedev: ‘A Window of Opportunity’
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, May 08, 2008 | English version Russian

 
In Yeltsin’s day, reformers used to talk about ‘windows of opportunity’ for this or that reform. These windows had a nasty habit of closing before the reform was accomplished. Perhaps the Medvedev presidency, which started yesterday, offers another ‘window of opportunity’ for economic and political reform, and normalisation of relations with other countries.

Consider the pamphlet ‘Russia’s Future under Medvedev’(eto angliskii perevod) edited by Igor Yurgens, and compiled by a group of Russian experts brought together by the Institute of Contemporary Development, a think-tank said to be close to the new President. The goal they set out is to improve the welfare of the people. Russian economic policy, they say, should seek to raise Russian

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Two Cheers for Kondratieff
by Robert Skidelsky
published in Vedomosti | Thursday, April 24, 2008

 
Around 1930 the most famous Russian economist was undoubtedly Nikolai Dmyitreyvich Kondratieff. For years his famous ‘Kondratieff cycles – long boom-bust cycles of business activity – fascinated economists and business analysts. Then he fell out of fashion, and is now unknown. By abolishing capitalism, Stalin abolished the business cycle, and had Kondratieff liquidated. In the capitalist west, too, the business cycle disappeared in the 1950s and 1960s, as governments learnt how to ‘manage’ economies with fiscal tools and monetary tools bequeathed by John Maynard Keynes. Today, as food, energy, and raw material prices press relentlessly upwards, threatening poor-country consumers with starvation, and rich-country economies with stagnation,

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Russia under Medvedev for Moscow
Robert Skidelsky
Edinstvo | Monday, April 14, 2008

 
The advent of the Medevedev presidency has brought into focus two opposite conjectures about Russia. The first may be called the geopolitical conjecture, the second the economic reform conjecture. They can be found equally in Russia and the West.
 
 
A hostile version of the first is represented by the title and content of a new book by Edward Lucas called The New Cold War and subtitled ‘How the Kremlin Menaces both Russia and the West’. This is admittedly an extreme position, but, in more moderate form, it represents the view of a sizeable part of the western policy-making establishment.
 
Lucas argues that Russia is trying to rewrite the last chapter of the Cold War in its favour. Under Putin it has been using its oil and gas resources

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