The Other Bear Market

The search for better economic policy.
Sept. 11 1998 3:30 AM

The Other Bear Market

The run on Russia.

(Continued from Page 1)

Another answer, which may interact with the first, is that the oligarchs are not in this for the long run anyway--that at some level they all expect the game to end fairly soon, and they are simply trying to grab as much as they can. Certainly there has been massive flight of capital into Swiss bank accounts and other hidden overseas assets. (Many Russian firms maintain subsidiaries in Cyprus, the Nassau of Europe. They are presumably not there to enjoy the weather or, for that matter, to do anything productive.) Russia, as has been pointed out in this column before ("The East Is in the Red"), has generally run huge trade surpluses. Think of those surpluses as the way an oligarch's gas or oil gets converted into a billion dollar nest egg someplace outside the reach of the resurgent Communists, or Gen. Lebed, or whoever emerges from the wreckage.

Advertisement

One thing that is clear is that the West--the IMF, the Western governments who provided the funds for the last, doomed rescue package--have come out looking like chumps. There is a possible defense for their actions: They may have believed that the men who rule Russia were finally beginning to see the light, that in their own self-interest they would agree to cough up the money the country needed to avoid disaster, but they needed a little time. In that case the big loans organized a few months ago could have made the difference. But in fact the money quickly disappeared, as speculators--certainly including the oligarchs themselves--converted rubles into dollars as fast as the dollars became available. In effect we gave a lot of aid to some future residents of Gstaad.

Needless to say, in his recent visit to Moscow Bill Clinton repeated the old pieties, suggesting the West was "ready to offer further assistance if Russia stays with the path of reforms." And he sounded sincere.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Sometimes Women Do Make Fake Rape Allegations

And we need to treat that as a serious problem.

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.