Michael Delyagin: Demonstration of Inability of Official Propaganda about Full Overcoming of Crisis

Known Russian economist and politician Michael Delyagin, the director of Institute of Problems of Globalisation answered questions of correspondent of FORUM.msk in Sevastopol via Skype.

- Michael Gennadevich, officials in Russia vying with each other assert that the country is smartly emerging from world crisis. To what extend is it true?

- Actually scales of regenerative increase of gross national product appeared considerably below expected ones and made only 2.9% in I quarter of 2010; thus in March gross national product growth was in general close to zero. It was seen best of all in industry which growth of manufacture got accelerated from 5,7% in March to 10,4% in April; as a result for first four months of the year industrial production grew by 6.9% but in relation to "pre-crisis" January-April, 2008 recession made 9,0%.

Beginning of appreciable investment growth became the main achievement of April: if in January-February investment recession made 8.0% and insignificant growth - by 0.7% was seen in March, in April growth made already 2,3%. As a result investment recession was reduced from 4,7% following the results of I quarter to 2,3% in January-April, 2010, however, in relation to "pre-crisis" January-April, 2008 it made 20,3%.

- At the expense of what factors the growth was achieved?

- Basis of investment growth in April - sharp, 16.2% increase in volumes of habitation put into operation. As a result for first four months of 2010 habitation input brought into operation was reduced only by 2,4%. Agricultural manufacture slightly slowed down the growth in April - from 4.1% in March to 3,5%; growth in January-April, 2010 made 3,6% in comparison with 2,2% in crisis January-April, 2009. In comparison with similar period of 2008 agricultural manufacture which practically did not feel crisis (and received benefit thanks to devaluation and effect of import replacing) increased by 5,9%.

Restoration of a railway cargo transportation - the most reliable indicator of business activity - was sharply intensified: growth in April was accelerated almost in one and a half time (from 10,6% in March to 15.5%), for January-April increase made 14.5% and in relation to "pre-crisis" January-April, 2008 reduction made 13,1% (recession of January-April, 2009 - 24,1%).

Official inflation (not to confuse to real one!) in the middle of May practically stopped and from the beginning of the year to the middle of May made only 3,5% due to mass poverty of the population. 86% of Russians can't buy simple home appliances; "middle class" (which representatives can buy them from salary) does not exceed 13%. In 2007-2008 rupture of current incomes of 10% of the poorest and richest Russians made 16,8 times, in 2009 thanks to growth of pensions and salaries of state employees it was reduced to 16,7 times that's exclusively high level. Real indicator is higher as the basic part of incomes of rich part of society is not being considered statistically.

- Does it mean that we have artificially received indicators, when positive economic dynamics is not reflected in any way in improvement of position of citizens?

- Well, how else could it be, if basic part of anti-recessionary state support was spent to help speculative sector and, having raised quotations of the share market, promoted additional enrichment of the richest. For 2009 number of official Russian billionaires grew twice (Russia occupied the second place after the USA on this indicator) and the cumulative condition of hundred richest Russians also grew approximately twice.

Rather high world prices for oil and raw materials as a whole provided well-being to raw manufactures, however, owing to economic insecurity these means flowed not into other sectors but abroad and rouble strengthening in addition undermined competitiveness of enterprises.

Increase of financial problems of real sector (which considerable part is invisible to the official statistics which doesn't take into account bribes business is compelled to pay) and population is seen in growth of overdue credits of the bank system which share, by available estimations, exceeds 14%.

- Probably, it is very big figure characterising position of the population? Though after all imitation of successes cannot last for ever?

- In the beginning of May new coil of the world crisis connected with problems of Southern Europe promoted an overflow of capitals from not developed markets in the USA and, having weakened euro, promoted oil reduction in price. It has already led to outflow of the capital from Russia: to falling of overheated share markets (Moscow Central Stock Exchange fell by 17,4% from the middle of April to the middle of May and by 11,9% for first three weeks of May) and to easing of overestimated rouble by 3,6% (to dual currency basket for first three weeks of May).

Rouble weakening raises competitiveness of economy, however, positive effect from it is neutralized by euro weakening. As the Russian import substantially goes from Europe, it becomes cheaper and effectively competes to the Russian manufacture. At the same time export is nominated in dollars but growth of its cost is neutralized by decrease in the world prices.

- So, it's like "tie-break" in tennis, isn't it?

- As a whole it is possible to say that since May, 2010 new stage of development of the Russian economy began: entry of a new coil of crisis. Prospects are transparent enough. As a whole 2010 will be the time of gradual postcrisis restoration of economy. Its potential is limited by external competition (not allowing to use growth of internal demand for stimulation of manufactures) as well as government inefficiency (not capable to limit corruption and arbitrariness of monopolies, refusing from scale modernization projects in favour of continuation of all-round restriction of money supply).

Achievement of growing (contrary to official statements) share of transient and unbanked 20% level credits became the main expected event, after that urgent state help for liquidity support will be required to bank system.

Ministry of Finance is getting prepared for it; in particular, it has provided placing of 1 billion roubles on bank deposits till the end of 2010, at that such decision was accepted in February - before falling of euro and, accordingly, has been caused not by decrease in profitableness of foreign investments of budgetary funds (decrease in their profitableness caused closing of information on replenishment and use of means of Reserve Fund and Fund of National Well-being).

Probably, part of this money is intended to be used for crediting of large private enterprises under their pledge by state banks (that also means serious corruption interest), however, the main objective - maintenance of liquidity of bank system.

- That is again state support will be turned only to bank sphere and large business, isn't it?

- Yes, but planning to place 1 billion roubles of budget money on bank deposits Ministry of Finance plans thereby appearance of acute shortage of liquidity in bank system for which compensation traditional methods of Bank of Russia will be enough.

It is clear that state help to banks will immediately get on the currency market and will lead to reduction of international reserves of Russia and falling of quotations of share market. After termination of state help money, as well as last time, will get from currency market to the share market having provided fast restoration of its quotations (if last time it helped to restore half of the falling level, now restoration can be full owing to lower levels). Then these means will return to real sector having provided temporal stabilization of situation.

The first wave of crisis (August 2008 - January, 2009) led to reduction of international reserves of Russia approximately by 250 billion dollars (more than 40 billion from them were "hidden" by means of statistical cunnings), then 110 billion dollars in international reserves were restored by May, 2010, that is more than 40% of losses.

The second wave of crisis will be weaker (also due to the fact that everybody is ready to it in advance and has been already waiting for it for long); reduction of international reserves approximately by 100 billion dollars is being expected, that is, probably, minimum level after the first wave of crisis will not be reached.

- That is the Russian economy nevertheless will sustain the second wave of crisis, is it so?

- Nevertheless demonstration of inability of official propaganda about full overcoming of crisis will make considerable destructive impact by itself, it will weaken sociopolitical and together with it - economic stability. Confrontation level between state machinery of Putin and Medvedev and technogenic catastrophes caused by scale larceny (we can enlist here besides Sayano-Shushenskaya HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION accident with the train "Neva Express" and catastrophe on the mine "Raspadskaya") is uncertainty sector. So, more likely the country enters uncertainty period when macroeconomic situation will influence local, sometimes random factors.