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HISTORY OF THE ECONOMY, MONEY, AND FINANCE       It is impossible today to accurately determine Russia’s economic  activity, the value of its resources and what is exactly owned by what/who.    What matters is the strength of individuals and/or groups in a constant  battle of secretive fortress mentalities.  It’s been pretty much the same  throughout history, with only the political systems changing.  The concept  of law only became viable in the 1800’s but has never taken root in Russia,  though constitutions were written between 1905-1911, 1935, and 1992.  In  all cases, the laws were only enforced/are today only enforced for the  ruling elite’s selective accomplishing of desired goals.  Prior to 1800 as  well, the value of monarchal earning/spending in relation to that of the  REOC and the landed nobility/aristocracy was not considerably different---  they were mostly entwined and in sync.  So let’s begin this history section  in the 1800’s and the Monarchy’s first big non-military expenditure ever:   The Moscow-St. Petersberg railroad during the 1830’s-40’s.  This proved  to be way too expensive because the engineers made it laser-straight,  regardless of topography and natural obstacles.  This was because the  Tsar made a straight line between the 2 cities on a map with a pencil and  everyone was too afraid to question this (note: history repeated itself in the  late 1940’s with Stalin and a northwestern railroad he desired between 2  major rivers above  the  arctic circle, in permafrost.  It was impossible to  build but people built anyway.  Stalin died and work was stopped).  During  this railroad’s construction, the concept of complex military scenario  modeling was beginning in earnest throughout Europe; all countries  integrated railroads into their future military strategies, along with ever-  improving naval technologies.  Russia was realistically not expected to  manufacture railroad or military products in the foreseeable future and  would have to pay hard currency to keep up with the other land-dynasties.    The stark realization of this came to fruition during the Crimean War of  1854-55, during which Russia was shown to be woefully provisioned  and   ill-prepared.   At this critical time, when  more  government spending was  projected in amounts greatly exceeding that in the REOC and private  sectors, its purse was relatively  empty.  The freeing of the serfs and  buying land for them to live on were the budget-busting end of the old  loose economic system  of monarchal subsidizing the growth of a small  wealthy class via land grants, entitlements, etc..  More people had to get  into the system and stimulate growth from below.  The Industrial  Revolution was really beginning.  The initial  solution for the monarchy was  selling Alaska to the U.S.A. in 1868 and then borrowing money from  Germany, mostly from Jewish banks, during the 1870’s.  This money built  railroads between the major cities in European Russia and gave these  cities some modern infrastructure, with the ripple effect facilitating  industrial development.  This site has never been able to determine if the  German loans were ever repaid and, if they were, how this was  accomplished.  The 1880’s slowed down the pace due to the Tsar’s  assassination and the new Tsar’s relatively repressed/repressive mind-set.  This Tsar died a bit more than a decade later, ironically,  from the long term  ill-effects of his speeding railroad car upending on him several years  earlier.      The 1890’s issued  in a new lending take on an old theme:  borrowing  much, much more money but this time from the French, British, and  Americans.  This money financed the Trans-Siberian Railroad, major  infrastructure upgrades in Moscow and St. Petersberg  and, no doubt,  many more things than the borrowers indicated---involving the military,  especially.   The key to the success of this was Sergei Witte, the Minister  of Finance, because he often forcefully used “great Russia” (see the  culture section) to change the terms and conditions of Russia’s debt to  serve national purposes.  By 1900, Russia was humming and the debt kept growing.  Russia lost the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 largely because  of a single transport issue:  the Trans-Siberian was only one-track with  inadequate sidings and with only a ferry link across the huge Lake Baikal.   Imagine this hell:  The winter of 1905-05 was the coldest in 100 years.   
The British made and locally-assembled ice-breaker AND the Titanic-sized (4-stack,  shorter but wider, to carry trains) ferry were locked in 2-meter thick ice.  At first,  tracks were laid with the belief that the ice would support a train: it sank.  So the  locomotives were rotated at the banks and cars had to be pulled individually by  horses.  A massive blockage.  Obviously, more debt was needed to two-track this  and other major railroads and to re-ballast/re-bridge practically everything to  facilitate greater speeds between  1904-1916.  And, the link between the Chita  region and Khabarovsk in the Far East needed to be completed so to be free of  dependence on the through-China link.  Remarkably, no major steps were taken to  export anything until 1906, when the peasant-farming sector was given incentives  to produce more, mostly with financing at the expense of the landed elites and the  offering of free land in Siberia.  This did little, however, to improve the deficit  balance of payments situation, and  WW-1  only made the financial situation worse.            The new USSR abrogated all previous debt and for its first decade there was  no economic activity to speak of.  With absolutely no money, Stalin realized the  only solution was a command economy.  This was feasible because labor and raw  materials were abundant.  So Stalin commanded away between 1929 and his death in 1953 to achieve various objectives, without using money, and his people  complied meekly.  The greatest cost in those 24 years was in human capital, with  estimates ranging from 25-40 million lives lost (not counting WW-2).  The labor  camp system didn’t die out until the early 1970’s, mainly because by that time there  wasn’t any expendable human capital left.  By that time, all significant industrial  activity was managed by criminals, the descendent legacy of their earlier war-  orphan-parent-established and managed camp system that developed these  industries.   The baby-boomers were then called into action on such multi-billion  dollar domestic projects like the BAM railway and the building of 35+ nuclear power  stations, etc.  After WW-2, Stalin incorporated Eastern Europe into his no-money,  conscript economy to initially provide extra labor for repairing  infrastructure/replacing population lost during the war.  Later, these countries  provided much of the USSR’s manufacturing base.  Thus began what would later  become a massive weapons exporting program into those countries and much of  the 3rd world.  When trade with the outside world was required, it was usually  accomplished with barter involving the supply raw materials as payment.   With no  interest in building any facilities that would improve the citizenry’s living standards,  the strategy was to explain that the present generations were sacrificing for the  future ones, which would bury capitalism at some undermined time in the future.   This command system of cheap labor (working very inefficiently) using easily  accessible and abundant raw materials (harvested very inefficiently) to facilitate the  promotion of world socialism via western currency/weapons  export  (distributed  very inefficiently) finally collapsed in 1991 for lack of all the above resources plus a  total loss of inertia and momentum.  It is very interesting that Vladimir Putin,  Russia’s leader for the foreseeable future,  calls this the greatest GEO-POLITICAL  disaster of the 20th century…it seems that he just wants to keep lining his own  pockets at the poor’s expense.         The last 2 decades have seen a consistent movement of loaned capital back  out of Russia despite western intentions that it remain inside.  Most wealth has  been realized by very few from short-term capital markets and the consolidating of  private ownership in major infrastructure and raw materials but two major currency  devaluations/corrections (from the vastly over-valued pre-1991 USSR ruble  exchange rate of 1 ruble to  1-1/2  U.S. dollars) have greatly reduced the poverty-  stricken population’s buying power.  Of course, the USSR’s criminal  control/management structure of industry  had to be redefined, and that was  accomplished with HUGE infusions of western capital, the voucher  system and   GREATLY expanded bribery.  Except for real estate and a few food products, the  cost of goods and services in Russia are the same as for the rest of the world while  Russia’s average salary hovers around $500 U.S. dollars/month.  The price of  gasoline is cheaper than in Europe but more expensive than in the U.S.  This  ensures that fully extended middle-class car owners will never be able to fill their  tanks more than 25%.  These types of  things guarantee that Russia’s middle class  will never grow above 10% in the foreseeable future and that 90% will always live in  poverty.  The re-securing of all financial wealth back in Moscow has been  accomplished in the last 5 years.  As has been the case throughout history, the  ruble is not a viable international currency and is only used for domestic  convenience.   The major component of Russia’s economic  movement  is bribery,  with  the delivery vehicles being  corruption and criminality, and the trading place  the black market.