The Russian Economy
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Since Tsarist times, Russia’s leaders, rather than pursue economic growth for its own sake, have sought control over economic activity as a means to manage their own support base, respond to perceived security threats and to facilitate their wider geopolitical ambitions. Balancing the needs of an authoritarian state with the tentative and inconsistent use of the market has defined Russia’s modern economic history from the nineteenth-century Stolypin reforms to Lenin’s New Economic Policy through to the high Soviet years, Gorbachev’s perestroika, and Yeltsin and Gaidar’s shock therapy. And it is no more evident today than in Putin’s management of Russia’s natural resource-based economy.
Yuval Weber provides a concise economic history of modern Russia, which explains how its economy works both at an economic level but also strategically serving its elites’ personal and political agendas. At a time when the global importance of Russia’s oil and gas reserves is in full view, the book examines the Russian Petrostate and considers the long-term challenges for an economy reliant on natural resources for its resilience. The country’s regional imbalances, the demands of its huge military-industrial complex and the legacy of centralization are considered alongside the rising consumerism of its citizens, and other human factors, such as ethnicity, health and demography.
The book offers readers seeking to understand Russia’s economic resilience in an increasingly fractured global economy, an illuminating historical perspective on Russia’s political economy and the power structures underpinning Putin’s governance.