16 Years Providing Weekly Foresight
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By Scott Foster
SNS Asia Editor [Tokyo]
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Publisher's Note: Because our Asia Editor lives in Tokyo, and has lived in Seoul, it is not surprising that most of our Asia Letter insights are targeted at Japan and South Korea. All the better, then, that Scott Foster has chosen East Russia as the subject of this week's issue, even as most of the developed world (except endlessly optimistic BP) is ready to write off Russian investment as an oxymoron, a bit like "consumer savings" in the U.S.
The idea of a Russia/China axis ought to be enough to keep any mindful global strategist awake nights. With Putin destroying all vestiges of free speech, democracy, and rule of law, the country is going backward in almost every measure of civilized business behavior, faster even than China.
Where will this regression take these two countries? Do they jettison the now-outlived promises and theory of communism, to replace them with some new version of economic statism? Are we seeing the next form of fascism, or its opposite number - corporations controlled by the state, instead of vice versa?
Whatever the result, the news can't be very good. Oil revenues not only hide national mistakes, they also often lead to them (yes, Mr. Chavez, we're thinking of you), but the prospect of this leading to anything but stronger armies and emboldened dictators seems unlikely.
As always, Scott's insights into Asian problems makes for required reading for anyone planning on doing business there, and for the rest of us who just want to understand what the world will look like next. - mra.