Russian Economy and the State in the Eyes of a Foreign Economist. Part 2Khanin Grigory
The article analyses the book written by the English economist Thane Gustafson “Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia”. The author of the book is known for his deep works on the oil industry of the USSR and the state of economy of post-Soviet Russia. In a peer-reviewed book, Gustafson analyzes Soviet and post-Soviet Russian society through the prism of the Russian oil industry. The author of the article supplements Gustafson’s analysis with his own assessments of the state of the oil industry of the USSR and the Russian Federation, taking into account the replacement cost of fixed assets. Gustafson, paying tribute to the achievements of the Soviet oil industry, shows the inevitability of its crisis in the 80s due to defects in the command economy. Thane Gustafson analyzes the crisis of the oil industry of the late 80s and early 90s as a consequence of the weakness of state power, the capacity of which in Russia he assesses as the most important factor in its economic development. He considers the privatization of the oil industry, with all its shortcomings, as a condition for the beginning of the revival of the oil industry. Another factor, he believes, is the attraction of foreign capital, technology and Western management practices. The strengthening of state power with the advent of Putin and the successful operation of private oil companies, along with rising world oil prices, ensured a rapid increase in oil production in the Russian Federation, which allowed Gustafson to assess the period 2001-2004 as an oil miracle. He associates the subsequent slowdown in oil production with the depletion of old oil fields with poor development of new ones. At the same time, Gustafson attaches considerable importance to this slowdown in the nationalization of the oil industry and the growing hostility in Russia towards foreign capital in general and the West in particular. The author supplements this analysis with calculations showing the limited financial resources of oil companies and their poor use. Gustafson predicts a crisis in the Russian oil industry and recommends liberalization of the industry and increased integration of the Russian oil industry into the global economy.