At the foot of the mountain
Alexey Kudrin, one of the best finance ministers in stories modern Russia (according to Russian and foreign business media), has never hidden liberal views on the economy. And now, already at the post of chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, he sometimes breaks through.
He remains convinced that the dominance of large state institutions in the economy is one of the main threats to our financial market. And this despite the fact that it is the state structures, including the harshly criticized industry corporations, that today are, if not the locomotives, then certainly the anchors of the domestic industry.
Yes, while they also remain consumers of colossal budgetary resources. But even for the construction of the Crimean Bridge, it was necessary to transfer purely private construction structures to a position similar to state corporations.
And if the chief state controller and accountant considers state institutions to be a real threat to the economy, it would be nice for him to remind that the presence of the state is almost felt most strongly in the financial sphere. Thus, in the top ten largest banks in the country, only one does not have a large state block of shares.
Interestingly, Kudrin called the growing US national debt no less dangerous for our financial system, once again posing as an inveterate liberal. If this is really so, then maybe it is time for us to get off as quickly as possible not from the oil, but from the dollar needle?
Without betraying himself, the current head of the Accounts Chamber of Russia is still distinguished by an excellent reaction to events, responding to them at the first call of their writing and withdrawing colleagues from purely "business" media. As soon as there was a real threat of a second quarantine due to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Kudrin gave his operational forecast regarding the prospects for the domestic economy.
Fundamentally, in addition to the reference to the fact that the government forecast for 2021 did not take into account the second wave, Kudrin's criticism of the calculations of the Ministry of Economic Development hardly differs from the comments of the authors ("Don't make an icon out of the crisis"). However, in our notes there were no predictive percentages that Alexei Leonidovich has.
He also believes that the decline in the country's GDP this year will exceed five percent against 3,9 in the forecast of the Ministry of Economic Development. It is characteristic that this department has reduced the percentage of the decline quite recently, and just from the level of 5 percent, and reduced it only with an eye to the stabilization of oil prices.
There are certain doubts, adjusted for the newly growing China, that the second wave of the pandemic will lead to a really strong drop in oil prices. But it can kill the remnants of a free (one might say: liberal, according to Kudrin) economy.
Losses for small and medium-sized businesses from restrictions, according to the head of the Accounts Chamber, may turn out to be more significant than previously assumed. To put it mildly, especially considering that small business is much more dependent on the well-being of the country's population, which already now clearly leaves much to be desired.
... Or on the edge of the abyss
In our opinion, the very fact of obsessive coincidences in the figures at the Accounts Chamber and the Ministry of Economic Development is very remarkable. Moreover, Kudrin does not in the least refute the calculations of this department, although, as we see, he does not share the optimism of Minister Maxim Reshetnikov.
However, for 2022-2023, Kudrin also promises the Russian economy growth, albeit small - a maximum of 2,5 percent. But since 2021, the head of the RF JV, like many other officials, apparently has no clarity. Kudrin even blurts out that a year later, the economic downturn may continue, and 2021 will also bring great difficulties to the country.
Thus, the coveted three percent of growth from the government forecast, according to the chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, can again be hampered by the second wave of coronavirus. For our part, we will add that the inevitable fall in consumer (read: effective, according to J.M. Keynes) demand, inevitable in the event of a new series of severe restrictions, can hinder even more. Ruslan Grinberg, Corresponding Member and Chief Expert of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who has headed the Institute of Economics for many years, likes to regularly remind about its insignificance, even "scantiness" in Russia.
He was the first authoritative analyst to comment on Kudrin's recent speeches. After all, apparently, the difficult task fell out of spreading straws on the eve of the publication of much less optimistic scenarios for the development of the domestic economy than just three weeks ago.
Ruslan Grinberg first of all drew attention to Kudrin's remark, noting that the fall in the Russian economy was not as serious as in other countries. In this regard, the academician has no trace of any optimism. There was simply nowhere to fall seriously.
Kudrin sees the reasons for the not so significant decline in the lower share of small and medium-sized businesses, the service and tourism sectors, and at the same time a high share of mining and processing enterprises. These factors influenced the fact that the crisis in Russia turned out to be milder, Kudrin added.
Ruslan Grinberg, on the contrary, considers these factors to be the main problems for the domestic economy. Having a good connection between big business and consumers in the form of small and medium-sized businesses, our economy could gain additional stability, no doubt the esteemed corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
However, small business would have much better chances of survival if the process of impoverishment of citizens did not continue to grow in Russia, Ruslan Grinberg noted. He drew attention to the fact that in the near future the incomes of Russians will continue to fall, regardless of the level of GDP, and the authorities are still unable to rectify the situation.
Citizens' incomes are declining, but the drop in GDP does not matter here, be it at least five, at least six, at least four percent. The fall in income will continue in the near future due to the paralysis of all economic activities, which happened for known reasons, "
- recalled the chief expert of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
It is not worth hoping for an improvement in the situation, the economist noted.
“The authorities do not know what to do, and few people in the world know. But they must radiate optimism, and will do everything to keep things from getting worse. And in order to get better, it is necessary to completely change the philosophy of economic policy, for which our government is not ready, and maybe not capable of ”,
- concluded Greenberg.