Loading...
Bless the Hearts of Pitt County voters who elected a person with a pending lawsuit for abuse of power. REALLY...

Vladimir Putin's mission impossible in Russia

Russia Putin-3

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with local officials in Omsk, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Loading…

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Vladimir Putin faces an enormous challenge. He wants to deliver prosperity to Russians before 2024, when the constitution says his presidency must end, but the economy is no longer cooperating. For this unhelpful economic outlook, Russia's president has only himself to blame.

After dipping into recession in 2015, Russia remains in a rut. Private investment and productivity are sluggish. Economists don't expect growth to exceed 2 percent a year in the foreseeable future — a far cry from the 5-percent-plus pace of Putin's first two terms.

If things keep going this way, Russians might get fed up by 2024. That's dangerous, because the transfer of power — or a constitutional amendment to let Putin stay — will stir more dissatisfaction, given how little say voters will have in the process. The last time Russians took to the streets, in 2011 and 2012, the economy was doing well.

Putin's answer is to decree that Russia will have an economic miracle. He has ordered the government to boost fertility, longevity, incomes, housing, innovation, digitalization, education and health. It's an impressive collection of goals, yet less than inspiring, because this future is so implausible.

The problem is more political than economic. For a start, Russia's Crimean land grab and election meddling made the country an international pariah and provoked Western sanctions. These might have a limited immediate effect on growth, but they create persistent uncertainty that keeps foreign investment and ideas away.

Meanwhile, Putin's grip on power throttles the domestic economy. His lack of regard for property rights and personal freedoms — he decides who may take assets from whom, who gets prosecuted, and what people are allowed to say —pervades officialdom. As long as people fear that their lives and livelihoods can be confiscated, entrepreneurship will be stifled and many of the best and brightest will leave.

Granted, Russians don't give up easily. In Moscow, the Skolkovo Innovation Center incubates promising startups. Restaurateurs and home-grown food companies cater to every taste and budget. There's even a farm-to-table movement. But all too often businesses fall prey to official shakedowns or attacks from competitors using a corrupt judicial system to pressure or even imprison their targets. For enterprises that survive, there's often little choice but to sell out to firms with ties to the government.

Against this background, even prudent economic policies take on a different character. Consider Russia's plan to raise the pension age — a move essential to the longer-term growth and solvency of any country with an aging population. Russians reasonably ask: Why should we wait longer for our money when the president's friends are getting rich on state contracts?

Putin's advisers know what's needed. An economic program developed by former finance minister Alexei Kudrin — and produced at Putin's behest — stresses that "economic success is impossible" without the rule of law and a "fair and genuinely independent" judicial system. Yet this fundamental element is absent from Putin's own plan. In any case, Russians could be forgiven for wondering how the ruling elite would deal with opponents if it could no longer exploit the courts.

In the end, the dilemma is plain: Putin can have Putinism or a more prosperous Russia, but not both. The odds aren't good that he'll make the right choice.

Bloomberg Opinion

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

November 10, 2018

The Democrats’ return to control over the House of Representatives is much more than a victory for one party. It is a sign of health for American democracy.

Distrustful of untrammeled majorities, the authors of the Constitution favored checks and balances, including, crucially, the check that…

Election 2018 Trump

November 09, 2018

With the courts and Trump Administration rolling back federal climate regulation, green activists have turned to the states. But there’s a troubling ethical twist: Instead of merely lobbying, activists are placing employees in Attorneys General offices in dubious private-public condominiums.…

November 04, 2018

President Trump’s assertion on Tuesday that he could end birthright citizenship via an executive order likely is another attempt to stir up immigration as a campaign issue ahead of next week’s midterm election.

It’s a bad and almost certainly unconstitutional idea, and had the…

AP Explains Birthright Citizenship-2

November 04, 2018

Pitt County is fortunate to have a ballot full of fine candidates running for elected office on Tuesday. Women and men have put their names forth to produce contested races for almost every seat. The races offer contrasts in style, personality and direction.

The Daily Reflector has reported on the…

November 02, 2018

It’s natural to think of worst case scenarios when such a scenario is right before your eyes. So it was Monday when authorities said a Butler High School student was shot and killed by another student during a dispute in a school hallway. The death appeared to be the first fatal shooting…

North Carolina School Shooting-3

October 31, 2018

Children in North Carolina aren’t learning to read fast enough or well enough. The state has invested millions. Hands are wringing, and heads are hitting hard against the wall. “Success” can’t be claimed if a third-grader can’t read the word and know what it means.

And…

101518aydenm

October 30, 2018

The United States has been a beacon of hope for people who are poor, mistreated or persecuted. That is a unique position on the world stage that must not be abdicated.

Many Americans trace their roots to people who left harsh conditions in other countries in search of a better life in the United…

Central America Migrant Caravan

October 26, 2018

In the Trump era, buttoned-down, straight-laced conservatism is widely seen to have been replaced by wild-eyed, open-throated populism. Yet Trump has worked closely with Congress to deliver economic policies that big-business Republicans have wanted for decades. In a strange and important way,…

Financial Markets Wall Street-7

October 23, 2018

A disturbing Associated Press report shines a light on what happens to immigrant children separated from their parents and forced into foster-care settings mandated by the U.S. government. In a small number of cases, foster-care networks have yanked permanent custody of young children from their…

Immigration The Battle For Alexa-3

October 22, 2018

After Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael left their trails of death and destruction across North Carolina, it’s time to clean up, repair, help those in need and move forward. But it also should be time to think about what environmental lessons these powerful storms leave behind.…

Tropical Weather
92 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 10
        Next Page»   Last Page»