Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lesson learned? Kiss that idea goodbye.

A little bit of recent Russian economic history...
All governments borrow. It's the natural state
of financial affairs. What makes the world go
around, if you will. Even Islamic governments,
forbidden by their religion to become their
neighbor's debtor, find ways to skirt this fussy
little law in the Koran.

Russia - tsarist, communist, and post-communist -
was never a stranger to borrowing money.
Curiously enough, despite their spurious
reputation as being xenophobic, Russians
historically preferred to borrow abroad. And when
it decided to tap internal financial resources,
the post-Soviet Russian government went out of
control and eventually created a disaster that
the next two generations will be doomed to bear.

Let there be no doubt: it was the GKO market
that buried Russia one year ago today, and not
the fact that the banking system was
undercapitalized and inexperienced, or the
economy was too dependent upon its natural
resources and exports.

It was the government's enormous appetite for
capital that eventually plunged the country into
chaos and ate a hole into everyone's pocket. And
therefore it should be the government, first and
foremost, that must learn the primary lesson of
last August: One must live according to one's

There are similar makings in the works for all
debt-loaded enterprises and countries, pension
plans going tits up and bond markets turning
chaotic. It'll just take a little longer in the
rest of the world.

Odd there's no date on the article. I'm assuming
it was written sometime in 2000.

Well written article.