Articles by Anders Aslund



Push for Customs Union Turns Friends to Foes

British Prime Minister David Cameron took umbrage last week when President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov allegedly ridiculed Britain as a "small island" during the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg. But Russia and Britain suffer from similar ailments; their inability to overcome their glorious imperial past and adjust to the modern world. Their minds are so 19th-century, but Russia far more so.

United Russia's Adoration of Communism

The party's head of the State Duma's Committee on Economic Policy believes that the leading role in the economy should belong to state corporations.

How Rosneft Is Turning Into Another Gazprom

During the last half decade, the mismanagement of Gazprom has turned from comic to tragic.

Russia Loses Without Guriev

Guriev's forced departure is a huge blow to civil society and freedom in Russia. The Kremlin showed its disrespect for education and research.

Putin's State Capitalism Means Falling Growth

While officially condoning certain liberal economic policies, Putin has pursued the opposite course, a mixture of state and crony capitalism.

VTB Purchase of Tele2 Is a Classic Insider Deal

A relatively small business deal, VTB's purchase of Swedish-owned mobile phone company Tele2 tells us a lot about the state of the Russian stock market.

The Cyprus Crisis Is a Postmortem for Russia

Suddenly, the Cyprus crisis blew up, but now it may have been settled. Of course, Cyprus itself loses the most out of this crisis, but Russia comes in second. Russian deposits of close to $4 billion have probably been lost, and the remaining Russian deposits are subject to rigorous capital controls.

How Russia Mismanaged the Financial Crisis

One of the least understood aspects of Russia's economic policy is how badly the government managed the global financial crisis.

9 Reasons Why Stability in Russia May Be Elusive

Last week, the annual Gaidar Forum took place at the Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration in Moscow. Admirably, the academy's rector, Vladimir Mau, attracted most ministers and the cream of Russia's intelligentsia into interesting panel debates.

Rise and Fall of Russia's Economic Think Tanks

The current witch-hunt against nongovernmental organizations is not only harming freedom but also hurting Russia's intellectual life and policymaking. In the two decades since communism, Moscow's economic think tanks underwent a dramatic development of which I have been part.

How Putin Is Turning Russia Into One Big Enron

In a few quick decisions, President Vladimir Putin has devastated Russia's energy policy. This daring radical change of strategy will primarily hit state revenues. The essence of these policy changes is renationalization, a massive increase in capital expenditure and reduced efficiency.

How Yanukovych Turned Tycoons Into Enemies

Ukraine's parliamentary election on Sunday will be neither free nor fair. After eight unproductive years since the 2004 Orange Revolution, the democratic opposition is ­depressed and demoralized. Even so, the elections may check President Viktor Yanukovych's power.

Rosneft Is Foundation of Putin's State Capitalism

State-dominated Rosneft announced Monday that it had bought all of TNK-BP for about $55 billion at the expense of the Russian state. Nothing is more important in the Russian economy than oil, which accounts for about 40 percent of export revenues, 35 percent of tax revenues and 12 percent of gross domestic product.

Big Setbacks Give Gazprom Impetus for Change

Finally, something is happening to Gazprom, perhaps the most mismanaged and corrupt company of its size in the world.

Why Everyone Is Avoiding Gazprom

Even though Gazprom enjoys all the official state privileges, it still cannot produce, sell or cooperate. The company is headed for the dustbin of history.

Why Moldova Has Turned Its Back on Russia

Last month I visited Moldova and its pro-Russian breakaway Transdnestr region. Both illustrate Russia's dysfunctional foreign policy in the post-Soviet space.

Putin's Eurasian Illusion Will Lead to Isolation

The strangest part of President Vladimir Putin's new policy is his promotion of the Eurasian Union. It is likely to be costly and unsuccessful.

What Putin's Piecemeal Reforms Will Look Like

In my last column, "Putin's New Economic Liberalism," published April 25, I pointed out how President Vladimir Putin has changed his tone on economic policy from speaking like the chairman of Gazprom to become more reformist.

Putin's New Economic Liberalism

The most remarkable change in Russia after the December protests is that people have started speaking freely again, as in the good old 1990s. Gradually, a new economic policy is being formed. Although much remains uncertain, Russia is likely to pursue a much better economic policy than in the last eight years.

Why BRICS Is No Good for Russia

Since the Soviet collapse, Russia has tried to join all major international groups. It has opted for the Group of Eight (G8), the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and since 2011 South Africa), and the Group of 20 (G-20).

Why Gazprom Resembles a Crime Syndicate

Gazprom has been Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's main preoccupation since 2001, but it has been a spectacular failure. Gazprom possesses huge natural resources, however, it is extremely inefficient because of poor management and massive corruption.

Putin's Dangerous Reprivatization Idea

For years, Vladimir Putin has appealed to his electorate with stability and predictability. But on Feb. 9, he questioned the legitimacy of property rights in the country.

Heated, Open Discussions at the Gaidar Forum

Each year, Moscow hosts a couple of major economic conferences. Yevgeny Yasin will organize one at the Higher School of Economics in early April, and Vladimir Mau organized the Gaidar Forum on Jan. 18 to 21. These events offer a good overview of Russia's economic policy discussion.

How to Rebuild Russia

We all agree. Russia needs to be rebuilt. Ample material is available: talented human capital, lots of cash and plenty of raw materials. But how should it be done? The downside is that Russia's two biggest problems of corruption and authoritarianism are crippling the country.

How WTO Can Change the Game for Russia

On Nov. 10, the World Trade Organization Working Party for Russia's accession to that organization finally approved the country for membership after 18 years of negotiations. On Dec. 15-17, the WTO ministerial conference in Geneva will also approve Russia's bid. Then, the State Duma has six months to ratify the membership, and then, one month later, Russia will formally be a member.

Putin Takes a Populist Turn

After a long rest, alternating between publicity stunts and foreign trips representing Gazprom, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suddenly woken up with the announcement about his renewed presidential ambitions and several substantial policy statements.

Kiev Can't Manage Without the European Union

This year's Yalta European Strategy conference, or YES, organized and largely financed by oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, was held from Sept. 15 to 18. This was the sixth YES that I have attended, and Pinchuk seems to make it better each year.

The U.S., Not Gaidar, Killed Yeltsin's Reforms

The 20-year commemoration of the abortive August 1991 coup is an opportune time to contemplate what has been accomplished and what has failed in Russia. The putsch showed that the old Communist political establishment was moribund, the Soviet Union was finished, and the Soviet economic system had stopped functioning. They all had to be replaced.

High Graft + 4% Growth = Enduring Stagnation

Although global oil prices have been high during the first six months of 2011, Russia's economy is expanding by a moderate rate of 4 percent. At present, there is no reason to believe that the country will return to the average growth of 7 percent that it experienced from 1999 to 2008. Undoubtedly, Russia can perform much better but only if very substantial changes are undertaken.

The EU Should Follow Russia's Fiscal Restraint

Watching the current euro-zone crisis unfold, Russians can proudly say they eliminated their public debt. By contrast, the euro-zone decision makers have made nearly every conceivable mistake, and they keep repeating them.