In Putinomics, Chris Miller examines the making of Russian economic policy since Vladimir Putin took power in 1999. Miller argues that despite Russia's corruption, cronyism, territorial expropriation, and over-dependency on oil as an economic driver, Putin's economic strategy has functioned far more effectively than most Westerners realize. While acknowledging that part of Putin's successes - above all, quadrupling per capita GDP in just a decade and a half - can be attributed to cashing in on high oil prices, Miller details the government policies that have also been fundamental to Russia's growth, which has outpaced and outperformed comparable petro-states like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
While many scholars have long agreed that Russia has combined reasonably successful macroeconomic policies with mediocre micro policies, Miller argues that this dichotomy has not seeped very far into public debate. Thus, Putinomics at once analyzes Russia's political economy in a way that nonspecialists can comprehend and complicates our understanding of contemporary Russia.
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- Randall Parker
Insightful book on Russia
I found Miller's previous book, The Struggle To Save The Soviet Economy to be an excellent explanation for why the USSR broke up. Now Miller explains what has happened since and enables one to understand the constraints within which Russian policy makers operate. Putin has to put stability ahead of economic efficiency. Though he's well aware of which policies would boost economic development and he tries to pursue them within the limits imposed by the need for political stability. I am surprised that the Russian government only collects 15% GDP in taxes or that corruption is not the top concern of Russian businesses. Also, the need to please pensioners is a major concern. It doesn't seem likely to me that a different leader, selected by a more democratic process, would govern Russia better. Rather, I would expect big budget deficits if a leader had an ever greater need to cater to public opinion.
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