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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Damage to Market Limited After Yukos Affair

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Christof Ruhl responds to ""Property Rights," a letter by Christopher Granville on Aug. 8. That letter was written in response to "Yukos Affair: After the Scandals," a comment by Ruhl on Aug. 7.

Editor,



Christopher Granville wonders whether I was not too optimistic in denying much discernible effect of the "Yukos affair" on Russia's economic indicators, in particular on eurobond spreads and the stock market. On the latter, I believe market performance has vindicated the original assessment, including the lack of contagion from the initial decline of Yukos' share price.

With regard to Russia's eurobond performance, I can not discern the alleged significant tightening over U.S. Treasuries after June 25 when the Federal Reserve cut rates, nor does my screen show more than a blip after July 2 when Lebedev was arrested, or after July 12 when premises were raided.

More importantly, U.S. Treasuries are not the most ideal comparator for Russian bonds. But if one uses emerging market bonds instead, the picture does not change: From measuring Russia's temperature against JP Morgan's index of emerging market bonds over the course of July and early August, and then comparing it to the performance of other countries -- such as Brazil, Argentina or Mexico -- no innocent observer without prior knowledge of the affair could conclude that a market shifting scandal was under way in Russia. The market simply did not react that strongly.

I am not trying to deny that the Yukos affair may court disaster, nor that it is detrimental to Russia's image abroad. But its measurable impact on Russia's economy has so far, and thankfully so, been negligible.

Christof Ruhl
Chief Economist
Russia Country Department
The World Bank
Moscow



Privatization Debate



Marshall I. Goldman responds to "From Socialist Ideals to the Capitalist Dream," a letter by Anders Aslund on Aug. 8. That letter was written in response to "Problems of Unstable Privatization Edifice," a comment by Goldman on July 31. That comment was written in response to "The Drama Is Putin's, But So Are the Results," a comment by Aslund on July 25.

Editor,


It is always fun, as well as intellectually stimulating, to debate with Anders Aslund. Occasionally he throws in a low blow but that has become par for the course for those who now have to account for the mess and sorrowful legacy they helped create in the 1990s.

Aslund knows that he is not the only one in our debate who prefers capitalism to socialism. I do too, but I want a form of capitalism and private property that is not built on a corrupt base and has legitimacy. Seizing state property or acquiring it because of collusion or corruption of state officials invites future recriminations if not jail sentences.

He may equate the Russian oligarchs with a Rockefeller; certainly they both violated the law. But Rockefeller built refineries. He did not seize existing ones from the state.

Finally, Aslund is correct when he points out I signed an open letter along with some Russian communist economists. What he did not say, but should have, was that all the prominent Russian economists at the time were communists, or had been communists. Equally important is that several Nobel laureate economists in the United States also signed the letter.

Are we all suspect now, or is it possible that the privatization program supported by Aslund was just badly conceived and poorly implemented?

Marshall I. Goldman
Associate Director
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Harvard University



U.S. Agenda



In response to "Imperial Rules Compared," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on Aug. 5.

Editor,


I found Boris Kagarlitsky's comments extremely interesting in light of the fact that he could so well assess the U.S. public's lack of understanding of where the U.S. government is attempting to mislead its own people.

American citizens have never, in my knowledge, had an experience of the United States as an imperial power. I also fear that most Americans are in denial as to what exactly their own government has as an agenda. Since the onset of the Bush administration, lies, deceit and downright misinformation have been the norm.

It is about time that the U.S. government confessed its agenda -- hidden or otherwise -- and informed not only its own citizens but the world.

Carolyn R. Clark
Schenectady
New York



Hartfordski Kiti?



In response to "Buy American Clubs, Fetisov Tells Tycoons," a combined report by The Moscow Times and The Associated Press on Aug. 8.

Editor,


You quote Vyacheslav Fetisov as saying: "It wouldn't hurt to have our own, wholly Russian team in the National Hockey League."

If I understand his comment correctly, Vyacheslav Fetisov has in mind a NHL team that is: wholly Russian owned, with Russian trainers and Russian players. And lest we forget: in a Russian city, with Russian management and Russian advertising and marketing agents, and fully Russian staffed.

Eureka! The Hartfordski Kiti or the Winnipegski Camoleti. Those in the loop know where these franchises reside today.

Or could this simply be a case of 2002 Salt Lake City sour grapes? Just think what sort of influence Russian owners could exert on the referees.

Chris Rose
Moscow