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Secret Russian Report Reveals World Plan
Perspective on the News
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Ed DeShields

A convergence of world economic troubles and political re-alignment opportunities has given Russia a new outlook on its position in the world, according to a secret Russian report uncovered by the Wall Street Journal this week.

The report, unofficially confirmed by Russia this week, outlines its plan to move quickly to capitalize on this new-found power to expand its influence in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Russia plans to use its low-debt and petroleum-based purchasing power to gain access to technology from an ailing West to modernize its industrial complex where it will, in turn, export its goods to the Islamic world.  The result will help neutralize its threat against terrorism and recapture its lost influence with the former breakaway Soviet providences to expand its geographical presence.    

Russia has avoided the debt-crisis of much of the rest of the world; a strategy that will serve them well in the immediate future as a buyer in a seller’s market.  Its current debt is only 7% of GDP and is the only large country with an export surplus except China.   The West, brought to its knees by debt, is more than willing to sell-off important technology to keep their economies from collapse.   Russia’s markets are shaping up to be the place to be economically in the future.

According to the report, Russia’s rise in the world status will also deploy a less-controversial political tactic with its neighbors.  And, the Obama administration has bought their story.  Obama has signaled the U.S. will no longer interfere with Russia by acting as a check-and-balance to the former evil-empire.  Obama has abandoned plans for missiles in Poland and aims to restart nuclear weapons treaty discussions thereby allowing Russia to feel it is free to influence the former break-away republics of the old USSR.   These “STAN” countries, once attracted by an emerging EU, have become largely Islamic.  Russia’s new strategy is to take a neutral position with Islamic countries, hoping to influence them with advanced technologies including nuclear plants in Turkey, military weapons in Syria and Iran and other Muslim nations.  It intends to use its economic influence to fully support its political position. 

Obama’s view of Russia is a radical change from previous administrations where President Reagan once coined the phrase, “trust, but verify” when describing the Russians.  Russia ranks virtually last in its “despotism” ranking of world countries.  Despotism is a measure of corruption, property rights and legal framework of a country.  Russia ranks 82nd among 85 countries in despotism after Pakistan and Venezuela;  far from a sterling endorsement of their reputation. 

While trillions of dollars worth of bonds have been flooding the market recently as governments try to plug their fiscal holes, but there’s been one noticeable absentee: Russia.   The oil-rich country hasn't issued an international bond for the last decade, largely because it hasn't needed to.  Russia has accumulated the world's third-largest foreign currency reserves (totaling about $450 billion today) thanks to rich deposits of crude oil.  

Later this year, at a date not yet specified by Moscow, Russia will launch its first international bond in a decade.  The last time Russia issued a Eurobond was in 2000. It was two years after the country's infamous 1998 financial crisis which saw the country's export-dependent finances crumble after a huge drop in oil prices.  In August 1998, Russia defaulted on its sovereign debt and suspended payments by local banks to foreign creditors.

But it wasn't long before the devalued ruble helped boost exports, oil prices rose again and the economy was back on its feet.  Russia started plowing proceeds from its budget surplus back into paying its sovereign debts, and has managed to reduce their level of debt from 50% of gross domestic product at the start of the last decade, to 7% today.   This is very low when compared to the euro zone, where national debt for the average member country represents 80% of GDP.   Meanwhile, Greece and Italy have national debts worth more than 100% of their GDP.

Russia’s upcoming debt auction may also capture outflows from troubled debt markets like Greece or Spain, as debt investors seek to diversify away from risky areas.   The Western debt crisis will ensure little resistance to its goal, especially by the Western Europe.   And, as the U.S. requires ever-larger Treasuries debt sales to fund its own growing deficits the emergence of Russian bonds at favorable rates isn’t a just return for Mr. Obama looking the other way.      

While the West used the previous decade to load up on debt that has now been declared as unsustainable and awaiting its imminent collapse, Russia, using its oil rich economy, was quickly restoring its balance sheet into an economic powerhouse. 

The next decade will not, in any way, resemble the previous one as Russia begins its consolidation of its economic control over poor Western EU and Islamic nations.   Evidence of this was clear today as Islamic militants in Jordan burned Israeli fruit with flame-throwers sold to them by the Russians. 

He who owns the gold, makes the rules.

About Ed DeShields

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