March 19, 2021

Coming Up Roses


Coming Up Roses
Maybe the value of the ruble will rise again soon. Petar Milošević, Wikimedia Commons

Russia has apparently emerged victorious from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in two key ways: its vaccine has turned out to be highly effective even as Europeans struggle to get vaccinated, and its economy has turned out to be more resilient than most.

Moscow's Higher School of Economics (HSE), named after the London School of Economics, released a report showing how Russia's GDP remained happily consistent in 2020 relative to the rest of the world.

An ironic consequence of the 2014 economic sanctions against Russia is that the economy contracted well before 2020 and began preparing for the worst of times. According to this new research, this shift brought stagnation to the pandemic-era Russian economy rather than recession or depression.

Typically, Russia is hit worse by global economic problems. In the 2008-2009 recession, the world economy declined by (only?) .01%, while Russia's economy declined by 7.8%. Conversely, in 2020, the global economy receded by 3.5% and Russia came out looking better than the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, and Spain.

The HSE report outlines three key reasons for Russia's macroeconomic success: 1. The so-called "budget rule," 2. Business loans, and 3. State-sponsored businesses.

Russia had hedged against a falling oil price by "saving, not splurging" the revenue generated in periods of a high price per barrel. This is the "budget rule." It is the same kind of economic thinking that makes subsistence farmers invent ways to preserve surplus food for leaner times. The budget rule is smart, not sexy, policy; you will not see any $1.9 trillion stimulus packages coming out of Moscow.

The second key to Russia's economic success is giving businesses loans to cover salaries and lowering insurance premiums for businesses during the pandemic.

The third aspect is that more Russian businesses were already state-sponsored and larger than in the West. The service sector is also smaller in Russia.

Praise for Russia's economy has come from the International Monetary Fund and even The Moscow Times. Compare this to The Moscow Times' prediction last March that the pandemic might destroy Russia's "isolated" economy.

It turns out that isolation is an advantage when it comes to a global pandemic.

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Driving Down Russia's Spine

Driving Down Russia's Spine

The story of the epic Spine of Russia trip, intertwining fascinating subject profiles with digressions into historical and cultural themes relevant to understanding modern Russia. 
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955