Contrasting issues

To date this blog has focused perhaps too much on the issues facing Russia, the widespread poverty, corruption and indifference of the powers-that-be.

However, things aren’t much better in Europe and the US, as a new hard-hitting documentary points out, covered in an excellent article in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/feb/02/inequality-for-all-us-economy-robert-reich

Just like Russia, a small minority in the US and UK own the majority of assets. Unfortunately, this is rarely reported. As well as highlighting inequality and the squeeze on the middle class and poor, the documentary stresses the negative impact that such government policies have on the economy, with all hopes of growth destroyed by futile austerity.

Meanwhile, as indicated in another report recently, based on Sberbank data, almost 90 per cent of Russians own their properties – compared to a far lower figure in the US and Europe. This has historical roots (decree by Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin to allow Russian citizens to privatise the state properties where they live). At the same time, to date Russians have to a large extent abhorred debt (I am not talking here about the dishonest oligarchs, but instead the general public), preferring either to pay cash for property or to repay loans/mortgages early.

And given the high budget deficit issues in the West, compared to Russia, it remains unclear how the situation will develop over time. A recent Economist report focused on the unsustainable nature of the welfare state in the UK and highlighted successes in Nordic countries.

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