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Bernie Madoff was a piker
June 10, 2013 - Harry Eagar
If you really want to steal, Russia is the place:
"All this speaks of incompetence, but what really irritates shareholders is the company’s enormous waste and corruption. This takes various forms, such as asset stripping. The most egregious form is excessive capital spending.
"Analysts at the state-controlled Sberbank (SBER) assess that Gazprom would need $11 billion a year for its gas production, but in 2011 its capital expenditure soared from an originally planned level of $27 billion to $53 billion. It stopped at $43.2 billion last year.
"The analysts call this excess expenditure “value destruction,” which is their euphemism for waste and corruption, amounting to $30 billion to $40 billion a year. Investment analysts in Moscow suggest privately that two-thirds of this might be sheer corruption, while the rest is wasteful overinvestment. Corruption at that level may explain the poor management of the company’s official business."
This is from a Bloomberg News piece.
It tends to confirm several obvious things about Russia that drive the rightwingers wild:
1. Regime in and regime out, Russia doesn't change much.
2. Reagan didn't cause the downfall of Russian communism. It fell from its inability to manage the domestic economy, in particular agriculture. (Russian ag is still a mess, as it has been forever, but its overall importance in economic output is relatively less because of greater resource extraction, mainly oil and gas.)
3. The poor performance of the USSR economy is completely explained by a) Russia's eternal incompetence; and b) the destruction caused by a series of capitalist (imperialist and/or fascist) invasions (with about 30 million people slaughtered, mostly in their most productive years).
It may be that Bolshevism is a lousy way to organize a production system, but you cannot prove it from the Russian experience.
Nor can you from the so-called liberalization since the end of the USSR. The free market experts (in their own eyes, anyway) thought what Russia needed was an electronic stock exchange when what it really needed were all-weather farm roads and modern on-farm grain silos.
And less ideology of every brand.
(One of the stupidest women of the 20th C., Lady Astor (an American raised with all the prejudices and ignorance of te Virginia FFVs, but also the first woman elected to the House of Commons), was offered by the Bolshevik government some tsarist-era jewelry at a bargain price. "I don't buy," she said, "stolen property." Proving she did not understand thievery at all. That was in the late '20s. Ten years later she was a big Hitler fan.)
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