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Russia and the World: Scenarios to 2025: Executive Summary

Russia and the World: Scenarios to 2025: Executive Summary

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For decades Russia, as the dominant constituent of the Soviet Union, was indisputably a superpower. The reality today is very different. With a population of 144 million, Russia has approximately as many inhabitants as Pakistan (which, like Russia, possesses nuclear weapons), and an economy about the size of the Netherlands (population 16 million). Russia has gone through major changes since the break up of the Soviet Union, with a 30% decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) from 1992 to 1998 and challenges to Moscow’s rule in some provinces. In addition to that, declining birth rates combined with emigration and disease have shrunk the working-age population. However, at the start of the 21st Century, the indications from Russia are more favourable, not least because it has experienced a strong real GDP growth in the past five years that has created large current account surpluses and reserves. The economic boom has been supported by high oil prices—but the benefits of this increased economic prosperity are shared only among the elite, while the income gap between regions and groups within society continues to grow. While the upturn in itself is not enough to ensure sustained economic development, it has provided President Vladimir Putin with a window of opportunity, which he has used to introduce a number of reforms, including a flat income tax, a new land and legal code, and legislation on currency liberalization. Indeed, his most significant achievement has been to balance the budget and dramatically reduce IMF borrowing. More recently, a number of issues have started to become more pressing, including inflation, ethnic tensions and some slowing in economic growth just to mention a few. It is thus appropriate to ask whether the combination of these different demographic, economic, social and political elements will eventually have a negative impact, or if Russia can successfully turn itself around.
For decades Russia, as the dominant constituent of the Soviet Union, was indisputably a superpower. The reality today is very different. With a population of 144 million, Russia has approximately as many inhabitants as Pakistan (which, like Russia, possesses nuclear weapons), and an economy about the size of the Netherlands (population 16 million). Russia has gone through major changes since the break up of the Soviet Union, with a 30% decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) from 1992 to 1998 and challenges to Moscow’s rule in some provinces. In addition to that, declining birth rates combined with emigration and disease have shrunk the working-age population. However, at the start of the 21st Century, the indications from Russia are more favourable, not least because it has experienced a strong real GDP growth in the past five years that has created large current account surpluses and reserves. The economic boom has been supported by high oil prices—but the benefits of this increased economic prosperity are shared only among the elite, while the income gap between regions and groups within society continues to grow. While the upturn in itself is not enough to ensure sustained economic development, it has provided President Vladimir Putin with a window of opportunity, which he has used to introduce a number of reforms, including a flat income tax, a new land and legal code, and legislation on currency liberalization. Indeed, his most significant achievement has been to balance the budget and dramatically reduce IMF borrowing. More recently, a number of issues have started to become more pressing, including inflation, ethnic tensions and some slowing in economic growth just to mention a few. It is thus appropriate to ask whether the combination of these different demographic, economic, social and political elements will eventually have a negative impact, or if Russia can successfully turn itself around.

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Published by: World Economic Forum on Sep 29, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/25/2013

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Russia and the World:
Scenarios to 2025Executive Summary
 
 The views expressed in this publication do notnecessarily reflect the views of the World EconomicForum.
World Economic Forum
91-93 route de la CapiteCH-1223 Cologny/GenevaSwitzerland Tel.: +41 (0)22 869 1212Fax: +41 (0)22 786 2744E-mail: contact@weforum.orgwww.weforum.org© 2006 World Economic Forum All rights reserved.No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted inany form or by any means, including photocopying and recording,or by any information storage and retrieval system.
 
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