The Economist - 28 октября 2017

Скачать бесплатно журнал The Economist, 28 октября 2017

Год выпуска: октябрь 2017

Автор: The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group

Жанр: Экономика/Политика

Издательство: «The Economist Newspaper Ltd»

Формат: PDF (журнал на английском языке)

Количество страниц: 100

Описание: As the world marks the centenary of the October revolution, Russia is once again under the rule of the tsar: leader, page 9.

As the world marks the centenary of the October revolution, Russia is once again under the rule of a tsar.
Ignoring the lessons of the revolution is dangerous, page 19.

Politics

Shinzo Abe's gamble in calling an early general election in Japan paid off, as his ruling Liberal Democratic Party won 281 of the 465 contested seats in the lower house of parliament. Along with seats won by the ldp's coalition partner, Mr Abe has control of two-thirds of the house, meaning he can pass legislation without approval from the upper house. The prime minister will press to change Japan's pacifist constitution, a huge step that will allow it to take part more easily in peacekeeping operations, but will also rattle China and South Korea.
China's ruling Communist Party revised its constitution to include the thinking of Xi Jinping. Mr Xi is the first ruler to be named in the document since Deng Xiaoping, and the first since Mao Zedong to be so honoured while alive. The prime minister, Li Keqiang, keeps his job, but the party announced a sweeping reshuffle of the rest of its leadership. There is no one who is clearly being groomed as a successor to Mr Xi, fuelling speculation that he may try to stay on as party chief for longer than the normal ten-year period.
An elaborate five-day ceremony got under way in Thailand to cremate the remains of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died a year ago. In a country that reveres the monarchy, and imposes strict lese-majeste laws against those who do not, 13m Thais paid their respects to the late king as he lay in state, many prostrating themselves before his body.

Re-running scared

Kenya reran its disputed presidential election, despite the opposition calling for a boycott. An appeal before the Supreme Court to postpone the ballot was not heard because five of the seven judges were absent amid claims of intimidation. Last month the court threw out the result of August's poll because the count had been mishandled.
A British electrician was allowed to leave Dubai after the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, stepped in to overturn his three-month jail sentence for brushing against a man's hip in a crowded bar. The case highlighted the friction between Dubai's desire to attract tourists and the arbitrary enforcement of its strict laws against sexual impropriety.
The World Health Organisation swiftly withdrew its appointment of Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador, which had elicited howls of derision. Zimbabwe's autocratic president has destroyed the economy and wrecked the health service. His spokesman said Mr Mugabe wouldn't have taken the job anyway.

Not so flaky

Jeff Flake, a senator from Arizona and one of the more cerebral Republicans, denounced Donald Trump's presidency and the general state of his party from the Senate floor. Without naming Mr Trump, Mr Flake criticised the "coarseness of our leadership" and its "reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour". He challenged his colleagues to speak up. Mr Flake has decided not to run for re-election next year.
A 120-day ban on refugees from entering the United States expired. The ban came into effect in June following a profusion of legal wrangling. Applications can now resume, though citizens from 11 countries will face extra scrutiny.
The Senate passed a $36.5bn package of emergency assistance for places hit by recent hurricanes, including Puerto Rico. More than a month after Hurricane Maria hit the island, only a fifth of its power system has been restored.

A disunited opposition

Four of the five opposition candidates who won elections for governor in Venezuela took their oaths before the constituent assembly, a sham parliament controlled by President Nicolas Maduro's United Socialist Party. They were criticised by the rest of the opposition.
Brazil's congress voted not to send Michel Temer, the country's president, to trial for charges related to a corruption scandal. Mr Temer survived a similar move to remove him in August and he cannot be investigated again until his term ends in late 2018. He has the worst approval ratings of any Brazilian president.
Nicaragua announced that it would join the Paris accord on climate change, leaving Syria and the United States as the only two countries that have either not joined or plan to abandon the deal.
The Mexican government sacked the country's top electoral-crimes prosecutor for divulging bits of an investigation into corrupt financing. Critics of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party say the firing was intended to close a probe into claims that a Brazilian construction firm may have donated to President Enrique Pena Nieto's campaign in 2012.
The centre-right party of Argentina's president, Mauricio Macri, exceeded expectations in mid-term elections.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a former president, won a Senate seat, but her party performed poorly overall.

Yes, and no

Andrej Babis, a billionaire and former finance minister, won a general election in the Czech Republic. Mr Babis's ano ("Yes") party took 30% of the vote. His victory was viewed as the latest triumph of a charismatic populist in central Europe, but with a splintered parliament, Mr Babis will have trouble forming a coalition.
Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, asked the Senate to give him the power to disband Catalonia's regional government and implement direct rule. The region's president, Carles Puigdemont, compared Mr Rajoy's action to that of Francisco Franco, Spain's former fascist dictator.
eu ministers voted to approve curbs on "posted workers", eu citizens who work in eu countries where they do not reside, that were proposed by Emmanuel Macron, the French president. Four east European countries voted against the measure, saying it undercuts their workers' ability to compete for jobs in the eu.

Solv'ng a stinking problem

To the relief of expatriates in the country, China lifted a ban on imports of mould-ripened cheese, which had been imposed because the bacteria used in making them had not been approved. Soft cheeses such as Brie, Gorgonzola and Stilton are much sought after by Westerners in China. Chinese officials allowed the cheeses back in after receiving assurances from European counterparts that they are safe.

Business

Wall Street scored a big victory when the Senate scotched a proposed law that would have allowed customers of banks and credit-card companies to sue for malpractice through class-action lawsuits. The measure was put forward by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created under the Dodd-Frank reforms which has a rocky relationship with the banking industry. Its rule would have rewritten the requirement in retail-finance contracts that customers seekredressfor grievances through arbitration, rather than the courts. But the Treasury had criticised the proposal, for curtailing the "freedom of contract".

A helping hand

The Indian government announced a $32bn plan to recapitalise state-controlled banks. The banks, which hold two-thirds of India's banking assets, have been blamed for dragging down economic growth after a decade of unrestrained lending to industry, which has put a dent in their balance-sheets and constrained consumer lending.
David Rubinstein and William Conway stepped back from their roles as co-chief executives at Carlyle Group, a global investment firm that they helped to found in 1987. It is the second departure of the original management at a big private-equity firm this year following kkr's reshuffling of its senior ranks during the summer.
A former senior banker at hsbc was found guilty by a jury in New York of defrauding a client in a $3.5bn currency trade. Mark Johnson is the first banker to be convicted in the American Department of Justice's lengthy transatlantic investigations into the forex market.
Following revelations that Russian provocateurs had placed divisive ads on American social media during last year's election, Twitter announced changes to make such ads more transparent, and to allow users to see which ones are targeting them. A bill in Congress, the Honest Ads Act, would tighten the regulations for online political ads, subjecting them to the same rules as those for tv.
General Electric's share price sank to a near five-year low amid speculation that it might cut its dividend, after reporting poor quarterly earnings and reducing its outlook for the year. The blue-chip conglomerate's share price is the worst performer this year on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It hopes to turn that around when it unveils a plan in mid-November to reduce its costs.
The rand fell sharply against the dollar after South Africa's new finance minister delivered a budget that forecast weaker economic growth of 0.7% for the year and a higher deficit of 4.3% of gdp.

All eyes on the bank

The welcome news of better-than-expected growth figures in Britain was tempered by the increased likelihood of a rise in interest rates. gdp expanded by 0.4% in the third quarter compared with the previous three months. With inflation at 3%, the Bank of England has hinted that it will raise rates for the first time since 2007, possibly at its meeting on November 2nd. That would leave many households struggling; mortgage debt and consumer credit is running close to 140% of income.
General Motors reported a $3bn loss for the third quarter, mostly because of a $5.4bn charge it booked related to the sale of its Opel and Vauxhall brands in Europe. It also recorded lower revenues in North America after it cut production to reduce its stock of cars, which reached a ten-year high over the summer.
Jim Hackett shook up the senior ranks at Ford, five months after taking over as chief executive. Among those leaving is John Casesa, who oversaw the adoption of new technologies. Ford has lagged its rivals in the electric-vehicle revolution, something which Mr Hackett vows to change.
The decision by Oleg Deripaska to float his aluminium and renewable energy business, en+, in a listing in London was taken as a sign of renewed investor interest in Russia. It will be the first Russian ipo on the London Stock Exchange since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, which prompted a wave of financial sanctions against the country.

Withered on the vine

The world's production of wine will fall this year to its lowest level since 1961, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, because of bad weather that has damaged the grape crop in Italy, France and Spain. Global output will drop by 8% compared with 2016, which leaves some 3bn fewer bottles of wine to sip. The recent wildfires in northern California will probably not have had too much of an effect on American production (most of the state's wine grape is grown in the Central Valley).

A tsar is born

Seventeen years after Vladimir Putin first became president, his grip on Russia is stronger than ever. The West, which still sees Russia in post-Soviet terms, sometimes ranks him as his country's most powerful leader since Stalin. Russians are increasingly looking to an earlier period of history. Both liberal reformers and conservative traditionalists in Moscow are talking about Mr Putin as a 21st-century tsar.
Mr Putin has earned that title by lifting his country out of what many Russians see as the chaos in the 1990s and by making it count again in the world. Yet as the centenary of the October revolution draws near, the uncomfortable thought has surfaced that Mr Putin shares the tsars' weaknesses, too.
Although Mr Putin worries about the "colour" revolutions that swept through the former Soviet Union, the greater threat is not of a mass uprising, still less of a Bolshevik revival. It is that, from spring 2018 when Mr Putin starts what is constitutionally his last six-year term in office after an election that he will surely win, speculation will begin about what comes next. And the fear will grow that, as with other Russian rulers, Tsar Vladimir will leave turbulence and upheaval in his wake.

Firm rule

Mr Putin is hardly the world's only autocrat. Personalised authoritarian rule has spread across the world over the past 15 years — often, as with Mr Putin, built on the fragile base of a manipulated, winner-takes-all democracy. It is a rebuke to the liberal triumphalism which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey (see page 38), the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and even Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, have behaved as if they enjoy a special authority derived directly from the popular will. In China Xi Jinping this week formalised his absolute command of the Communist Party (see page 27).
Mr Putin's brand of authoritarianism blazed the trail. It evokes Russia's imperial history (see page 19), offering a vivid picture of how power works and how it might go wrong.
Like a tsar, Mr Putin surmounts a pyramid of patronage. Since he moved against the oligarchs in 2001, taking control first of the media and then of the oil and gas giants, all access to power and money has been through him. These days the boyars serve at his pleasure, just as those beneath them serve at their pleasure and so on all the way down. He wraps his power in legal procedure, but everyone knows that the prosecutors and courts answer to him. He enjoys an approval rating of over 80% partly because he has persuaded Russians that, as an aide says, "If there is no Putin, there is no Russia."
Like a tsar, too, he has faced the question that has plagued Russia's rulers since Peter the Great—and which acutely confronted Alexander III and Nicholas II in the run-up to the revolution. Should Russia modernise by following the Western path towards civil rights and representative government, or should it try to lock in stability by holding fast against them?
Mr Putin's answer has been to entrust the economy to liberal-minded technocrats and politics to former kgb officers. Inevitably, politics has dominated economics and Russia is paying the price. However well administered during sanctions and a rouble devaluation, the economy still depends too heavily on natural resources. It can manage annual gdp growth of only around 2%, a far cry from 2000-08, which achieved an oil-fired 5-10%. In the long run, this will cramp Russia's ambitions.
And like a tsar, Mr Putin has buttressed his power through repression and military conflict. At home, in the name of stability, tradition and the Orthodox religion, he has suppressed political opposition and social liberals, including feminists, ngos and gays. Abroad, his annexation of Crimea and the campaigns in Syria and Ukraine have been burnished for the evening news by a captive, triumphalist media. However justified, the West's outrage at his actions underlined to Russians how Mr Putin was once again asserting their country's strength after the humiliations of the 1990s.
What does this post-modern tsar mean for the world? One lesson is about the Russian threat. Since the interference in Ukraine, the West has worried about Russian revanchism elsewhere, especially in the Baltic states. But Mr Putin cannot afford large numbers of casualties without also losing legitimacy, as happened to Nicholas II in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 and in the first world war. Because today's tsar knows history, he is likely to be opportunistic abroad, shadowboxing rather than risking a genuine confrontation. The situation at home is different. In his time in power Mr Putin has shown little appetite for harsh repression. But Russia's record of terrible suffering suggests that, whereas dithering undermines the ruler's legitimacy, mass repression can strengthen it—at least for a time. The Russian people still have something to fear.

Mother Russia's offspring

The other lesson is about succession. The October revolution is just the most extreme recent case of power in Russia passing from ruler to ruler through a time of troubles. Mr Putin cannot arrange his succession using his bloodline or the Communist Party apparatus. Perhaps he will anoint a successor. But he would need someone weak enough for him to control and strong enough to see off rivals—an unlikely combination. Perhaps he will try to cling to power, as Deng Xiaoping did behind the scenes as head of the China Bridge Association, and Mr Xi may intend to overtly, having conspicuously avoided naming a successor after this week's party congress. Yet, even if Mr Putin became the eminence grise of the Russian Judo Federation, it would only delay the fatal moment. Without the mechanism of a real democracy to legitimise someone new, the next ruler is likely to emerge from a power struggle that could start to tear Russia apart. In a state with nuclear weapons, that is alarming.
The stronger Mr Putin is today, the harder he will find it to manage his succession. As the world tries to live with that paradox, it should remember that nothing is set in stone. A century ago the Bolshevik revolution was seen as an endorsement of Marx's determinism. In the event, it proved that nothing is certain and that history has its own tragic irony.


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