Sunday 24th November, 2013
Russian President Vladimir Putin has had a good run over the past few months.
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, landed on his doorstep, a gift from the PR gods. Agreement on Syria wentfrom no chance to golden opportunity in the course of one afternoon.Forbes dubbed Putin the most powerful man in the world.Yet all these successes obscure a basic fact: Russia is running out of money.
To be fair, Russia is far from broke.Revenues continue to stream in from oil and gas sales, and Moscow maintains healthy financial reserves for future rainy days.Russia also dislikes budget deficits and keeps its foreign debt down a model of fiscal rectitude that most Western countries can only dream about.
Yet despite these accomplishments, the Russian government submitted an austere budget to the Duma in September that contemplated freezing government salaries and significant across-the-board cuts for most government agencies. hough the Duma restored some social spending in its budget amendments, Russia will be working under tight financial constraints for several years to come. …