Russian Fraud: Nobody Does it Better

Transparency International ranked Russia among the top 30 percent in its Corruption Perceptions Index last year. The World Economic Forum finds it the least competitive of the so-called BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Its business and investment climate is fraught with hostility and risk. It is repeatedly cited by human rights organizations as economically, politically and socially “unfree.” The quality of life for most Russians is embarrassingly low, while the number of its billionaires is obscenely high. __NYT

Putin’s Russia is king of economic crime and corruption. It is next to impossible to get business insurance for projects inside Russia. Fraud, corruption, violence, are all rampant inside the sick bear.

Russia excelled in bribery and corruption — 58% of respondents complained about it, far above a global average of 27%.

“This indicated that the initiatives in Russia to fight corruption have yet to bear fruit, and we look forward to more positive results,” PwC said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly vowed to clamp down corruption in the world’s largest country by area. _WSJ … Russia Fraud King

Doing business inside any of the BRICs can be hazardous:

BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — all received scores of less than 50 on the 2013 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (where a score of 0 is considered highly corrupt and 100 is quite clean.) __ Pehub Canada

But Russia is the worst of the lot.

How far does Putin plan to go in annexing parts of independent nations of Eastern Europe?

President Putin’s ultimate ambitions are not known, though it is clear he is using the seizure of Crimea and threats against Ukraine in part to strengthen his position at home. Russia’s economy is struggling, and government is riddled with corruption and cronyism. Human rights abuses abound in Russia, as does suppression of free speech. Russia has slowly been slipping in relevance on the world stage. __Joe Peyronnin

There are very few bright spots in the global economic picture. It would be a particular mistake to assume that the BRICS — and particularly Russia — constitute bright spots. Russia’s hard currency reserves stand to be eaten up very rapidly, should global energy prices drop for any period of time.

Already, Russia is staring at a recession in 2014:

In an unusually frank public assessment from a Russian minister, Siluanov said Russia was facing the toughest economic conditions since 2009, when it went into a deep slowdown.

The uncertainty created by Ukraine crisis has prompted a further spike in Russia’s already haemorrhaging net capital outflows, which doubled from a year earlier to $50.6 billion (Dh185.8 billion) in the first quarter.

It also faces long-term structural problems, including a weak private sector in a state-dominated economy, low labour productivity and dangerous dependence on energy exports, which are now cruelly exposed.

“The economic situation has become even more strained and internal factors have been exacerbated by a high level of uncertainty on currency and financial markets, serious capital flight, an unreadiness by investors to take decisions in this acute international situation,” Ulyukaev said.

Capital Economics pointed to weakening growth in industrial production and retail sales in the first quarter, which they said paints an increasingly “bleak” outlook for the country.

A slump in the Russian ruble, which plummeted to a record low against the dollar and euro on March 3 after Moscow voted to allow Putin to send troops into Ukraine, could also fuel inflation, they warned. __GulfNews

Russian mafia owns Crimea and much of Eastern Ukraine “Organized crime helped Putin grab Crimea, and may open the way for him to take more of Russian-speaking Ukraine.”

In Russia, there is no clear distinction between organised crime and the government.

The real goal of Czar Putin is to further enslave the people of Russia after more than a decade of repression that followed a decade of increasing freedoms in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union where slowly overtime all of those freedoms gained are being systematically whittled away as Czar Putin looks destined to go even a step further than the totalitarian Soviet state, as today his FSB henchmen have far more invasive technology on their side, all without the scrutiny of a quasi independant free press in the West. Therefore the real losers of the Ukraine war will be the Russian people as they will be increasingly living in FEAR of the state that can erase anyone at any time for any form of perceived dissent.

Russia appears destined to become one giant gulag under Czar Putin. __ MarketOracle

One of the most disruptive bright spots in today’s global economy is the unexpected US boom in oil & gas, which is stimulating a nascent US manufacturing boom. This US energy boom is taking place on private land only. The opposite is true on Obama-controlled US federally owned land, where output is down and the outlook is dismal.

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2014/03/12/323091.htm Political risks of investing in Russia were already high. Now they are astronomical.

Global Political Risk Map PDF

All five emerging market countries which have been considered good growth opportunities for insurance and business in general–Brazil, Russia, India and China–are at increased risk rating due to growing political violence, government interference and sovereign non-payment risk.

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/04/14/brics-countries-face-increased-political-risk-in-2

http://www.stabroeknews.com/2014/features/04/20/latin-americas-forecasts-may-rosy/

…unless Venezuela adopts an economic adjustment programme, inflation may turn into hyper-inflation in coming years. “Typically, when countries reach inflation rates of 50 or 55 per cent, they either adopt adjustment programmes to put a break on it, or inflation keeps growing progressively,” he said.

Argentina’s economy is projected to remain virtually flat, with a 0.5 per cent growth this year, and will probably grow by 1 per cent next year.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-19/manufacturing-improves-in-u-s-as-china-stalls-global-economy.html

What makes the US energy boom-cum-manufacturing renaissance so disruptive, is the monkey wrench it throws into global economic calculations, from Russia to China to Brazil to the EU. And, yes, it throws off the calculations of the corrupt US Obama administration as well.

More: Putin does not work and play well with others — only Chinese gas deals and the Russian mafia can bail him out now

New: Russia has been threatening Europe’s energy supply all along, but now Russia is threatening Europe’s peace. Even without the toothbrush moustache, Putin resembles an earlier would-be dictator of all of Europe more every day.

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