Russia Faces Reality With Prediction of Deeper Economic Slump

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova, Olga Tanas – August 25, 2015) Russia’s government is starting to face reality. While insisting the worst of its recession was over, it cut its economic forecasts for this year and next amid the renewed plunge in energy prices and persistent sanctions over Ukraine. Economists said the revisions fell short of their estimates predicting […]

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‘Mass Murder:’ Russian Patients Brace For Ban On Medical Imports

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – August 23, 2015) When Yulia Koptseva heard about a Russian government plan to ban a range of foreign-made medical goods, she had a single, urgent thought: “I want my daughter to live.” That was also the poignant comment she left on an online petition that has gathered almost 10,000 signatures against the proposal, […]

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Shopping Spray: Loutish Russian’s Beer-Biting Patriotism

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Anna Shamanska – August 22, 2015) Stas Baretsky is foaming at the mouth about banned Western goods in Russia. As the food-destruction craze over banned Western goods continues in Russia, the St. Petersburg Orthodox Union of Cossacks and a very large former band member have joined in. The group went to a local store of the […]

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Russia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Risk Losing Right to Run Media

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinova – August 21, 2015) As the crackdown on Russian NGOs continues, the Communications Ministry has suggested forbidding those labeled as “foreign agents” from launching and registering media outlets. The proposal, part of a bill that the ministry published on a government website for draft laws, stipulates that non-governmental organizations registered as “foreign agents” […]

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Russia Rewrites Growth Blueprint as Recession Dooms Consumer

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Anna Andrianova – August 19, 2015) [Chart here bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-19/russia-rewrites-blueprint-for-growth-as-recession-dooms-consumer] Russia’s consumer economy, powered for more than a decade by a $2.1 trillion energy windfall, is in agony. The situation is getting worse, according to data released Wednesday by the statistics office in Moscow. Wages adjusted for inflation plummeted 9.2 percent last month from a year earlier […]

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Oil Prices Must Rebound. Here’s Why.

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Steve Brown – August 19, 2015) [Charts here http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Oil-Prices-Must-Rebound-Heres-Why.html] Last week I spotted a very interesting chart that Gregor MacDonald tweeted which showed world oil production over recent years excluding the USA. The chart was pretty flat and that got me wondering about the extent to which the world has come to depend upon Light Tight Oil in […]

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NEWSWATCH Washington Post: Russia used to have a powerful weapon in its energy sector. Not anymore.

Gas Flame file photo

The Washington Post assesses shifts in Russia’s position within the energy sector, and the impact upon Russian coercive pressure on the West. For years, Russia’s ability to choke off energy shipments any time tensions spiked with the West was a potent threat, one that could force much of Europe to shiver during the wintertime. But with energy prices swooning, the […]

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Simon Saradzhyan: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7)

Russian Mobile ICBM Parade File Photo

Subject: Response to to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy (JRL#152. August 7) Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2015 23:14:07 +0000 From: Simon Saradzhyan <Simon_Saradzhyan@hks.harvard.edu> Simon Saradzhyan’s Response to Dr. Mark Galeotti’s article on Russia Strategy in Foreign Affairs. [Simon Saradzhyan is assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism and a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer […]

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Poll: Banned food better be given to needy, orphans

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Interfax – August 13, 2015) Forty percent of Russians have backed the authorities’ decision to destroy embargoed food, while the number of opponents is a bit higher (48 percent), the Levada Center has told Interfax on Aug. 13. In the opinion of the respondents, the food would better be given to orphanages, homeless shelters or hospitals (43 percent) or be […]

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VIDEO: Conversation: Russia’s Perfect Economic Storm

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Stratfor.com – August 11, 2015) Video Transcript: Ben Sheen: Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Ben Sheen, I’m a managing editor here at Stratfor, and with me today is Stratfor’s senior Eurasia analyst, Lauren Goodrich, who will be talking to me about the state of the Russian economy. So Lauren, Russia is struggling at the moment. […]

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Russian Official Lauds Condom Restrictions

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Howard Amos, Anna Dolgov – August 6, 2015) A senior Russian official has praised plans to restrict condom imports as part of a drive to reduce reliance on foreign-made goods, suggesting Wednesday that a dearth of the rubber contraceptives will make people more “disciplined” and boost birth rates. Fewer condoms will make people “more strict […]

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Russians cheesed off as authorities destroy ‘EU’ food

EU Map

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews- August 6, 2015) Nine tons of presumed EU-made cheese seized after entering Russia from Ukraine were bulldozed into the ground on August 6 as officials enforced Kremlin orders to destroy prohibited Western products, despite protests from citizens struggling with rising food prices. The first batch of hundreds of tons of food earmarked […]

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Russians split over destruction of banned food imports

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

Russian is to destroy confiscated Western food products that fall under the Russian embargo at the border starting from August 6. According to the presidential decree, embargoed foods will be destroyed both at the border and after being seized from stores. However, some observers are calling on the government not to destroy the products, but give them to the needy. […]

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RBTH: Fresh U.S. sanctions will only boost import substitution – Russian experts

Portion of U.S. Treasury Department Building Facade, North Side, with Sculpture of Alexander Hamilton

The extension of U.S. sanctions against Russia on July 30 will first and foremost lead to the strengthening of import substitution, say Russian analysts. However, with the blacklist now expanded to include branch companies of the country’s main development institute, Vnesheconombank, and Russia’s largest oil company, Rosneft, the realization of large infrastructure projects may seriously be affected. (Russia Beyond the […]

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U.S. Sanctions Official: Russia ‘Will Probe With A Bayonet’

State Department Building and U.S. Flag

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Carl Schreck – WASHINGTON, July 31, 2015) A top U.S. diplomat overseeing sanctions policy says punitive economic measures are curtailing Russian “aggression” and testing Western resolve amid Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. “I think that in true Leninist fashion, the Russian government will probe with a bayonet, so to speak, until it encounters resistance,” Daniel Fried, […]

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NEWSWATCH Moscow Times/Sarah Lain: Russia Faces Facts on China

Eurasia Map

Writing in The Moscow Times, Sarah Lain, of the Royal United Services Institute, examines evolving Sino-Russian relations. Russia … cannot, and will not try to, compete with China’s growing economic influence … Russia’s leading multilateral economic foreign policy project … the Eurasian Economic Union … has … suffered from a variety of tensions …. Chinese investment via the Silk Road Economic Belt … could help […]

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Power to the people; As Electric Yerevan showed, governments throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia will face the risk of social and political unrest when they move to compel their citizens to pay market rates for electricity.

Electrical Yard file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow and Nick Allen in Berlin – July 27, 2015) The Electric Yerevan protests in Armenia burned brightly before police finally quashed them in early July. But the issue of electricity tariffs that sparked the protests will not go away: nearly half the countries in Emerging Europe also face a similarly […]

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NEWSLINK Reuters: Bypassing Ukraine Will Be Costly for Russia’s Gazprom – Analysts

Gas Flame file photo

Russia’s plans to drop Ukraine as a route for pumping natural gas to Europe will still leave state-run Gazprom facing about $1 billion in annual transit fees to Slovakia and Bulgaria for years to come, analysts and industry sources say.

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Medvedev Upbeat About Russian Economy, Ties With Europe

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – July 24, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he expects Russia’s recession-hit economy to start growing again at the end of the year, while he hopes for improving economic ties with friendly countries in southeastern Europe. “I think that the economy will return to the path of growth in late 2015, early 2016. It won’t […]

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Ukrainian President’s Russian Candy Factory Wins Case Against Russian Taxman

File photo of Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko facing one another, with Obama gesturing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – July 23, 2015) A local court has sided with a Russian chocolate factory owned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a dispute with the tax authorities, news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday citing a court statement. The decision is a rare victory for the Roshen Confectionary Factory in Lipetsk, about 440 kilometers south of Moscow, […]

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Russia Braces for Longest Recession in Decades With $50 Oil

Oil Wells File Photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Olga Tanas – July 22, 2015) For an economy that lives and dies by crude prices, the latest downturn in the world oil market means Russia’s recession may stretch into next year for the longest slump in two decades. Russia’s first economic slump since 2009 looked like it would plateau as oil gained 40 percent from […]

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Russia’s Beating the BRICS in 2015 on Turnaround Potential

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(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Maria Levitov – July 19, 2015) Which country would you invest in: a fast-growing economic powerhouse with a world-beating stock market or a tottering former superpower embroiled in a proxy war and heading for a recession? If at the start of 2015 you had chosen the second, Russia, you would be walking away with risk-adjusted returns […]

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NEWSWATCH Wall Street Journal/Ariel Cohen: How Russia Could Become a Food Superpower

File Photo of Wheat Field in Kenya, adapted from image at usda.gov

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ariel Cohen addresses historical shifts in Russian agriculture, and what the future might hold. Russia could be a food superpower, given its vast soil and water resources. It still may become one, but the question is whether the food will be Western or Chinese. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict, the Russian economy has […]

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NEWSLINK Australian Financial Review: How Russia proved to be the best BRICS bet in 2015

St. Basil's Domes

Russia’s surge in fortunes presents a contrast with the events of December, when stocks tumbled almost 9 percent and the ruble sank to a record, prompting the central bank to raise interest rates to the highest in more than a decade. That marked the peak of turmoil that had begun with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and crude oil’s […]

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RBTH: Seventy percent of Russians opposed to compromise on sanctions – report

russia-economy

According to a new Levada Center opinion poll, 70 percent of Russian citizens believe that Russia should not make any sanctions-related concessions, even though a third of the population has admitted that sanctions are a problem. However, despite these difficulties, Russians continue to back President Vladimir Putin, whose popularity rating has never been higher. Experts have several theories for why […]

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Putin calls for BRICS to assert financial independence from West

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 10, 2015) With a total GDP of $32 trillion and uniting 43% of the world’s population, the BRICS grouping of emerging powers took an assertive global stance at its annual summit in the Russian city of Ufa, as it unrolled plans to rival Western-dominated financial institutions. Marking the organisation’s seventh […]

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Interfax: Putin says Eurasia’s not a chessboard, it’s our home

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Interfax – July 9, 2015) Russia and its neighbours in the Eurasian landmass should not be treated as a “chessboard” or a “geopolitical playing field”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 9 July in remarks reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax. “For us, this isn’t a chessboard, it’s not a geopolitical playing field – this is our home, and […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Back-to-back Russia-hosted summits put Putin in coveted starring role.

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Images of a Putin alongside leaders of other large countries, signing economic deals, will reinforce Russia’s argument that it doesn’t need the West. It’s a seductive view, but a superficial one, say analysts

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Russian weapons face West’s economic wall

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Rakesh Krishnan Simha, special to RBTH – July 8, 2015) Despite being technologically ahead, Russian weapons face a virtual ban in the West. However, the picture is entirely different in Asia. Russian weapons are good enough for China and India – countries flush with cash and able to afford the best – but […]

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Russia Searches for Post-G8 Footing at BRICS Summit

File Photo of Flags of BRICS Nations and BRICS Logo from Past Summit

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – July 8, 2015) The leaders of the world’s biggest emerging economies will meet in Russia on Thursday for a powwow that Moscow hopes will demonstrate the futility of Western efforts to isolate the country. The summit of the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – that opens Wednesday […]

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What Does Greece’s ‘No’ Vote Mean for Russia?

Ancient Temple Ruins in Greece with Tourists

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anastasia Bazenkova, Delphine d’Amora – July 7, 2015) As EU leaders gather Tuesday to seek an answer to Greece’s sweeping rejection of international bailout terms, Russia -the EU’s third-largest trading partner – is quietly waiting to see where the chips fall. Hailed as a victory for democracy by Greece’s new far-left leaders, the resounding “no” […]

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Ruble’s Top Forecaster Sees Deeper Rout as Companies Repay Debt

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Ksenia Galouchko – July 2, 2015) Sanctions are once again catching up on the ruble. While still the best performer in the world this year, no emerging-market currency has fallen more in the past month as the effect of rebounding oil prices faded. Approaching foreign-debt payments and a shrinking economy probably mean it has a further […]

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Is Saudi Arabia Leaving The U.S. Behind For Russia?

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Robert Berke – July 1, 2015) The news from the recent St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which took place from June 18 to 20, inspired a torrent of speculation on the future direction of energy prices. But the real buzz at the conference was the unexpected but much publicized visit of the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince, as an emissary […]

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Ukraine cancels gas supplies from Russia in pricing row

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – bne IntelliNews – July 2, 2015) Ukraine suspended Russian natural gas purchases on July 1, citing its inability to secure from Gazprom a heavily discounted price for the third quarter of the year. Henceforth, the country’s state-owned monopoly Naftogaz will rely on supplies from the European Union, and claims that volumes bought from EU […]

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RIA Novosti: No plans for military alliance with Moscow, says Chinese envoy

Eurasia Map

(RIA Novosti – June 30, 2015) Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, has said that Beijing has no plans to form a military alliance with Moscow. He made this statement during an in-depth interview published on the website of RIA Novosti (part of the state-owned International News Agency Rossiya Segodnya) on 30 June. (http://bit.ly/1FNjB7z) No threat to third parties […]

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Russia-China pipeline to be largest infrastructure project in world – premier

Gas Flame file photo

(Interfax – June 29, 2015) Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev has announced that the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, which is set to run from Russia to China, will be the world’s largest infrastructure project, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on 29 June. Speaking at a ceremony dedicated to the start of construction of the Chinese part of the […]

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Russia’s Pivot to China Is Real

Map of China and Environs, adapted from archived cia.gov image

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 25, 2015) The search for alternative investors and markets has been a political priority for President Vladimir Putin and his government since Western countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia last year. The resulting pivot to China may seem merely cosmetic, but it is happening. Admittedly, most of the vague and extremely long-term […]

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Russia gripes to WTO about EU gas market laws

Gas Flame file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Iana Dreyer in Brussels – June 24, 2015) Russia has formally requested that a dispute settlement panel be established at the World Trade Organization to rule on its complaints against EU energy market laws. From a legal and geopoliticial perspective, this is perhaps one of the most interesting cases the WTO will have to […]

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Putin Offers Little Change at Russia’s Top Economic Forum

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko and Peter Hobson – ST. PETERSBURG, June 22, 2015) More than a year into an economic firestorm that is pushing Russia into its first recession in six years, Russia’s flagship economic forum in St. Petersburg was titled “Time to Act.” With Western sanctions over Ukraine and fallen oil prices battering the economy, thousands […]

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NEWSLINK Wall Street Journal: Russia’s Struggling Economy Clouds St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Corporate executives head to President Vladimir’s Putin hometown for annual event

St. Petersburg

Corporate executives head to President Vladimir’s Putin hometown for annual event.

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Russia Embraces Yuan in Move Against U.S. Dollar Hegemony

Map of China and Environs, adapted from archived cia.gov image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Hobson – June 16, 2015) Russian financial authorities, energy companies and state-controlled banks are stepping up their use of China’s yuan currency as Western sanctions spur diversification away from the U.S. dollar. In recent weeks, major Russian institutions have lined up to announce moves to use the yuan, which will likely emerge as the […]

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IMF Offers Ukraine a Poisoned Chalice

International Monetary Fund Logo Over Ukraine Flag

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Leonid Bershidsky – June 10, 2015) A top International Monetary Fund official is offering Ukraine a generous gift: continued loans, even if it stops paying private creditors. It is, however, a trap of sorts. Accepting the deal risks undermining Ukraine’s ability to borrow on the open market and strengthening its dependency on the IMF. “If at […]

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Interfax: West loses tool of pressure on Russia after its withdrawal from G7 – Pushkov

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

MOSCOW. June 11 (Interfax) – The value of the G7 has markedly depleted in the U.S.’ eyes without Russia, State Duma International Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov has said. “To my mind, the G7 is merely another incarnation of the Western alliance, a club for friends of the United States of America. So, I believe its value has markedly depleted even […]

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Ukraine Seeks New Russia Gas Deal as Military Tensions Rise

Gas Flame file photo

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Elena Mazneva – June 9, 2015) Ukraine needs to negotiate a new natural-gas deal with Russia just as the conflict between the two countries risks escalating again. A gas-price agreement with Russian exporter OAO Gazprom expires at the end of the month and Ukraine requires fuel to replenish stockpiles before the winter. At the same time, […]

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Putin: Russia has no relations with G7 but ready to cooperate with its members bilaterally

File Photo of G7 Leaders and other Officials Around Round Table at the Hague, with Flags

(Interfax – June 10, 2015) Russia currently does not maintain any relationship with the G7, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “We have no relations with the G7, what relations could there be?” Putin told journalists following negotiations with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on June 10. At the same time, “if our partners want it, we will be developing active […]

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World’s economic centre of gravity continues shift east

Mercator Projection Satellite Image of Earth

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Ben Aris in Moscow – June 9, 2015) [Charts here http://www.bne.eu/content/story/bnechart-worlds-economic-centre-gravity-continues-shift-east] The leaders of the G7 industrialised nations met in Berlin on June 7, but their decisions are becoming less and less relevant to the rest of the world as the centre of global economic gravity moves relentlessly east. In 1990, the centre of […]

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