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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia's Economic Woes: Alphabet Soup, Anyone?

It has not been widely acknowledged, but a major problem facing the leaders at the G-7 summit, which ends today, has been one of language.

Not actual language, but the language of assistance to Russia, which has become so complicated and charged with political overtones that it is hard to imagine the participants even being able to agree upon what they are talking about.

This problem dawned on me as I read the latest IMF Survey, a twice-weekly publication of the International Monetary Fund. An article therein discussed the difficulties of the PCPEs (Previously Centrally Planned Economies. )

This was the latest in a series of acronyms and abbreviations promulgated by complicated, abbreviated organizations to describe what used to be referred to as the U. S. S. R. , now the ex-U. S. S. R.

This last one is abbreviated by several agencies as FSU, which to some Americans might be better recognized as Florida State University, which, like the ex-U. S. S. R. , has a great sports program.

USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) prefers NIS (Newly Independent States), which it uses for all of the former republics, except Russia.

Then there is the EC (European Community) which has a program called TACIS (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States and Georgia), which prefers CIS.

These problems are minor compared with the politically charged issues of characterizing the Russian economy and the assistance the G-7 wants to give it.

The first problem is whether the economy is centrally planned or not. Tellingly, the IMF article about the PCPEs didn't talk about Russia at all, a latent political comment that the IMF still views Russia as a CPE.

At a recent press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Fyodorov declared, "We are no longer a state-controlled economy". and this PSCE (previously state-controlled economy) no longer wants aid.

"The word 'aid' should be totally canceled from our lexicon", he said.

So you can imagine the difficulties that could arise at the G-7 summit:

JAPAN: Now on to the FSU . . .

U. S. : What's that?

JAPAN: The former Soviet Union.

U. S. : Oh you mean the NIS.

JAPAN: Ahem, turning our attention to the FSU and the issue of aid. . .

RUSSIA: OBJECTION! We are neither seeking nor receiving any aid. We are hear to discuss normal lending to assist our TME.

ITALY: What's that?

RUSSIA: Transition to a market economy.

JAPAN: Right. Let's adjourn.