Russian government going broke

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The Russian government, faced with low oil prices, a weak ruble, and a big budget, has been depleting its cash reserves and could run out of money within a year.

The government’s reserve fund is designed to cover shortfalls in the national budget at times of low oil and gas revenues.

Russia’s 2016 budget is based on the assumption the country would be able to sell its oil for $50 per barrel. But the average oil price in the first eight months of the year was less than $43 per barrel. Oil now makes up just 37% of all government revenues, compared to roughly 50% just two years ago.

When their reserve funds run out, they will then dip into another fund reserved for pensions and investment projects. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kind of like the approach the big Democratically controlled U.S. cities like New York have used to continue to spend money they didn’t have.

It is interesting to compare Russia and China these days, especially considering the state of both of their space programs. Despite the fact that many say that China’s success is hollow, they have still been able to fund and build what is now a very vibrant and new manned and planetary space effort. Russia however cannot build anything new, and is now faced with reducing its ISS crew complement because it can’t afford to launch the supplies required for three people.

It will be very interesting to watch this story in Russia unfold.


  • Cotour

    The next 2 months to 2 years may be the most dangerous time ever on this planet, until some kind of strong leadership is again established in America.

    Thank you Barack Hussein Obama and the folks in the Senate and Congress, your all doing one hell of a job.

    And hell may be what appears due to you.

  • Andrew_W

    PPP GDP in China is still only about half that of Russia $14,000 vs $24,000, so the Chinese economy can still be inherently less efficient than Russia’s but still have solid growth, as the figures mean that per capita consumption is so much lower in China.

  • Alex

    Mr. Zimmerman: And USA cannot launch a single person into space at present!!

    Why does USA not run out of money even with that unseen huge debt (about 20 trillion dollar) and ever lasting massive annual trade deficit? I give the answer, because USA is parasitic country, which is draining other countries to sustain its standard of living by controlling world’s energy and money supply.

  • Alex: The U.S. government is no saint in money matters. Just because I note the problems the Russian government is having you shouldn’t assume that has anything to do with my opinion of our own government. In fact, I know you are a regular reader here and thus I know you must be aware of my repeated posts condemning the corruption and incompetence of the U.S. federal government.

    Having said that, your conclusion about the U.S. being a parasitic country is kind of shallow. The U.S., when it was free and open, was an economic power-house that helped drive and increase the wealth of every nation in the world. Not being free and open any longer but ruled by the whims of its corrupt politicians has made us debt-ridden and weak economically, which hurts everyone worldwide. Worse, doesn’t that sound similar to the situation I describe in this post about Russia, where the economy is dependent on the whims of corrupt politicians rather than the free and innovative dreams of the general populace? As in the U.S., those corrupt politicians are bankrupting the country.

    The solution is the same in both places. Take power away from politicians and governments and allow people to be free.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    The main reason the USA economy hasn’t gone into a black hole is the willingness of other nations to buy our Treasury bonds. Parasitic has nothing to do with it. If anything, the countries receiving our foreign aid are the parasites. Eventually, our debt payments will suck so much tax revenue that huge cuts will have to be made in government services. Politicians won’t reduce Social Security payments; they will again raise the age of a full benefit. My children may see a retirement age of 75 as the norm. Another possibility is to inflate our way out of the deficit like we did to pay for The Great Society and Vietnam. Folks over 50 may remember what fun “stagflation” was.

  • Localfluff

    The Germans have a funny expression: “Sich etwas einfallen lassen”, meaning “Lets come up with a good idea”. As if that is something one could command.

    Now that Vladimir’s oil isn’t selling so well, he might take a look at other options. He’s got a modernized strong military, and Western Europe has made itself completely defenseless and has no leadership or plan at all, not even a will to survive, while Obama acts like an empty placeholder in the White House. There’s still some stuff of value in Europe to loot. Europe has no friends in the world, no one cares about its destiny, not even the Europeans themselves evidently. Hmm, I wonder how this adds up.

  • Andrew_W

    Localfluff. If you’re suggesting that Russia could somehow benefit from a military conquest of Europe I don’t see what the profit could be, I can see though how boosting trade with Europe could be helpful to the Russian economy.

  • Localfluff

    @Andrew_W Spain, Italy, France, UK and Germany each have higher GDP than Russia (which is about even with Mexico). Putin likes money, he’s not a crazy ideologist, he wouldn’t mind taking a hundred trillion euros. And I don’t think that a Russian general administrating the occupation would be worse than current European politicians. Finally we would get a strong defense, the Russian! Russia has liberated Western Europe from both Napoleon and Adolf. Maybe it’s time again. There exists nothing to stop him.

  • Andrew_W

    Yeah, but I can’t help but think that most of the Europeans would be bloody minded and fight the Russian liberators, and then even if the Russians could occupy that many people, a lot of Europeans would do silly things like armed resistance, though perhaps they wouldn’t, since using irregular forces to resist occupiers is now regarded as terrorism, and I’m sure the Europeans wouldn’t want Americans calling them terrorists.

  • Localfluff

    @Andrew_W Have you been in Europe? Europeans of today are happy slaves. No one makes any resistance against anything. They don’t only lack the arms and training, they don’t even want to defend themselves. They hate themselves because they think that they have destroyed the atmosphere and only deserve to die.

    Why would I resist Russian occupation when I don’t resist the current occupation? A Russian military occupation of Europe would be the best thing that could happen to us. The alternative with Marine Le Pen and anti-Merkel is worse, and status quo islamic feminism is not even survivable. Our beloved politicians and journalists would “disappear”, like they do in Russia, you know. But I can live with that. It’s actually a bonus.

  • Localfluff

    Former Warsaw Pact “member” states will have revolts against a Russian occupation, that’s for sure. But that’s not where the big money is. And digging up the old pan-Slavic ghost and largely leaving the obstinate Poles alone could help much of that. Russia isn’t Soviet, big difference. But Western Europe is completely undefended and unwilling to even try to defend itself. Why wouldn’t Putin take and take and TAKE? He took Crimea as a tester, without any resistance or European reaction. That was his Czechoslovakia 1938 moment. I think that November 8th and January 20th are key deadline dates for a Russian conquest of Europe. If he isn’t happy with brooding his both eggs at home. He seems to be an ambitious guy, he made Russia the leading world super power in only 15 years. Maybe he manufactures weapons as an aside to earn crooked money off of it, like the incapable Europeans, or maybe he intends to invest his weapons profitably.

    Politics all over the world is now reverting from this strange Orwellian nightmare of a pseudo-democratic political PC-class preaching their imagined goodness, back to plain and simple Fürstenpolitik, like it always used to be.

  • Cotour


    All good points, although there is one BIG difference between today and 1938, there are more than several country’s with real missile and nuclear capability.

    If and when Putin makes a bigger move than Crimea, and remember, Crimea can without much stretching can be considered a true part of Russia that is where the rubber will meet the road. I strongly suspect that the very low oil price, which is driven by the Saudis flooding the market with oil long term, is a chess move driven by the close Saudi friend the United States. And this move is designed as an economic war move to again bankrupt the Russians.

    How much will they take? And at what point might nukes become a viable move? Kind of unknowns, the first country to use them becomes a world wide criminal. Thats a lot of legal entanglement and reparations and possibly trails for the next 25 years, who would want that? Unless you move is sooo big that the other players in the world will buckle under to you and your big move. Highly unlikely that the move could be that effective with the Russians suffering a counter strike that would make their initial move moot.

    Then there is China, and we know as fact that they are building long term plans to dominate the world both in space and sea. And their attitude is long term, much longer than the American traditional four year changing agenda chaos.

    And then we have Trump, and Trump is a bit of a wild card as testified to by your video. He presents aa a nationalist but I have to believe that if and when he takes over he will be presented with some complexities that will dial him back a bit. (but he will tend to power through obstacles if he becomes focused as we have witnessed, that’s Trump. This is leadership, Putin and China will understand it and tend to respect it)

    I strongly or “bigly” suspect that he will be a tremendous monkey wrench in the status quo of world politics, that can be good and it can be bad. I will assume that it will net be a good thing, even if he only serves for one term (although if he wins he will be there for two IMO).

    The question remains for me “how will the interests in our country and the world attempt to control him, how far will they go?”

    If Hillary wins its the same old same old, do as you want, I am busy socializing America. And that along with her comments like this (chilling) may make her the most likely to justify doing something extreme, or reacting to something in an extreme way.

  • Wayne

    D K Rögnvald Williams— you nailed it. The entire world is still willing to buy our Debt. Recent Bond Sales by the Russians have been very difficult & they have a bit of Inflation going on as well that they can’t mask.

    Alex– I do enjoy your rocket/science/Space commentary, but you start going down the rabbit hole by implying the United States is parasitic.
    We do have a lot of CRONY stuff going on at the Top, as well as rampant socialism, but I must call you on the parasitic ‘thang.

  • Cotour

    As long as the United States is the reserve currency of the world, meaning the world has much more confidence buying our debt (dollars) and faith in our justice and corporate / business system than any other nation I.E. China or Russia, we can use that as a tool of manipulation. You want to call parasitism, go ahead, the facts is the facts.

    What is underway IMO is the trading away of that power in order to formulate this One World model. Total anti Constitutional activities and those who promote it through their actions need to be arrested for treason.

    All of these movements are designed to train the youth with the notion that they are “International” citizens first, the people of planet earth, and not American citizens. Its the slow unconscious boil to this goal, which does not include the Constitution as written by the founders, its a Constitution written by the international community.

    I can’t wait, sooo beautiful, a world where Christians and Muslims, dogs and cats live in harmony.
    (read U.N. agenda 2030, understand U.N. agenda 21)

  • Joe

    The real parasites in the United States are the crony left wing politicians on both sides that buy votes with money that dosent exist, eventually the big con that is the dollar will fold, then it’s game over!, Russia is going to do what ever it deems nessasary for its survival.

  • Cotour

    To my point:

    Its probably a good bet that the U.S. has some involvement in these situations in Cuba and Venezuela. Like it or not, this is not about what is “just” or “right” this is about influence, resources, control and security in how ever that gets done, this is S.O.M. (Strategy Over Morality)

    Objectively its neither good nor bad, it just is how power is expressed, subjectively it is a threat to those who would rule or attempt to retain power.

  • ken anthony

    One thing is certain. Predicting the future is like predicting the outcome of a chess game from the opening position. Would we even recognize a map from a hundred years hence?

  • Alex

    Cotour: I support your statements against “International” citizens and globalization efforts driven by this NGOs (for example Soros’s agencies ) totally, which like to terminate independent and strong nation states.

    Wayne/Cotour: I can understand that you both do not like my critics, which is related to your country imperial behavior. However, it is clear as a mountain lake’s water that USA is not only selling its debt to world, but also financing or closing its permanent trade deficit (which is a kind of thievery from many other countries) by means of exporting its dollar inflation to the world, which is possible, because dollar is world’s reserve currency. That is in the concrete meaning of the world parasitic. Wayne, please take this kind of critics not as an attack against US people themself. I am sure that there many people in USA, who are not happy with that imperial character of their home country. I would add even Donald Trump to that group, which give me some hope in case of his wished and necessary victory in November.

  • ken anthony

    Alex, are other countries forced to invest in our debt?

  • Alex

    The existence of dollar as world reserve currency is no free decision made by other countries. Whos had tried to leave these imperial US-system of dominance and want to sell his own oil not only for dollar have to fear for their life and become a US enemy, see Saddam Hussein or Gadaffi or now most recently Putin.

  • Cotour

    Alex is correct……………….. why?

    Because the Untied States IS the reserve currency of the world and if you want to prosper as a nation you play the game with the funds provided by the strongest economy that controls it. If that ever really changes in the world to say China is the reserve currency, then you will see what real manipulation and abuse of power is.

    But this IMO is unlikely……………why? Because China is not trusted because they are essentially a thugocracy and not trusts their judicial system or their business practices.

    I make no apologies for this condition, like it or not this condition is a direct result of two purely American concepts, 1. The Constitution and 2. Capitalism. Period.

    This does not mean that the U.S. is not corrupt in certain ways, all forms of governance are corrupt, ALL. It is corrupt and it abuses power in the many ways that corruption and abuse of power expresses itself. But still with all of the corruption, its still the best as Churchill so neatly pointed out.

  • wayne

    Appreciate your clarification but I would stand-pat & maintain your characterization of “parasitic” and “imperialism” is not quite correct, in part, as it relates to international-trade, trade-deficit’s, etc.

    If the rest of the World wants to pyramid their worthless fiat money, on top of our pyramided worthless fiat-money, well….it’s just not going to end well for all concerned. (including us)

    -Personally, I’m a hard-money guy; if all these Central Banks, including ours, were actually constrained by gold-flows back-n-forth between countries, they wouldn’t be able to collude together and endlessly “print-money.”

    If I’m not mistaken– Russians have an Inflation rate of 10-15% currently, and it’s getting worse. (at 10%, the price level will double in 6 years.) Their access to imported consumer-goods is limited & the only big-money items they can actually sell to the world, appears to consist of hydrocarbons & rocket-launches.

    As for Putin– he’s KGB, to his core. There is no such animal as an “X-KGB Officer.”
    He’s a combination of Al Capone & Lavrentiy Beria, and he has nuclear weapons.

  • Localfluff

    Only UK and France have nukes in Europe. That’s where Russia will stop. They’d not start a nuclear war against Russia for anyone else’s sake, Russia would nuke them back heavily. And possibly Russia has enough anti-missile defense capability to stop many of their few nukes from hitting their targets. That’d be a possible goal for them, nuclear defense against UK and France. They only have a handful of submarines to fire them from, and they may be well shadowed by Russian attack subs which start the war by sinking them. The Russian air force could take care of any bombers trying to reach Moscow. So the main retaliation should be some land based French nuclear ICBM’s.

    A Russian invasion and occupation would be nothing like the mad war of ideology in WW2 and the cold war. It’s not worthwhile starting nuclear war, murdering millions, in order to stop a limited conventional operation with just tens of thousands killed, and an occupation that wouldn’t change much in everyone’s everyday lives.

    Yesterday it was revealed that Sweden is under (yet officially secret) acute military threat from Russia. The hitherto undefended island of Gotland, very strategically located in the middle of the Baltic Sea from where the Baltic states can be isolated from NATO support and Russia can connect St. Petersburg with Kaliningrad, has been militarized. All Swedish troops in readiness, one Leopard panzer company and one mechanized company, together 300 men, have now been permanently stationed on the island. On the island there lives also 500 reserve officers with at least 1½ year training for a wide variety of tasks, and 250 paramilitaries with at least 3 months training, which are very light infantry used for stationary group and platoon level defense of single points against saboteurs and light paratroopers. Sweden has neither air defense nor artillery and no land-to-sea robots have been deployed to Gotland. Recently, 8 of 10 full time Swedish soldiers and officers said in an investigation that they cannot solve their tasks because of lack of equipment, training and empty positions in the organization charts (and obviously lack of morale and confidence in their ability).

    Russia has one million active and two million reserve troops.

  • Cotour

    My post above should have read : Alex is correct to the extent that it is America that dominates the financial markets. I do not know if “parasitic” is the proper term, its more a condition of the piper calling the tune.

    This is an ongoing example of where China’s economy actually is and why they are not the reserve currency of the world:

    Not good, it looks like the command economy of China has no ability to regulate / throttle itself down and is running out of control. They are running a no feed back system (market driven), much like the American welfare system. Build a machine or economy without any real world feed back mechanisms and you have built a self destroying model.

  • Alex

    Wayne: I ’m also a hard-money guy and wish to see also the end of the socialist, endlessly printed FIAT-money worldwide. However, this means a completly different world, credits and investments comes only from savings and not from print press. No consumerism (which is at least partly the soul of US society) more in USA and worldwide. No artifical stimulation of growth and so fort.

  • Edward

    You seem not to remember recent history. Saddam Hussein was not an enemy to the US until he attacked one of our allies. Gadhafi was attacked by Europe, not the US. I’m not sure what Imperial behavior you mean, as the US, after winning a war, has given back lands that did not want to become US territories. Cuba comes to mind. The Philippines were a territory for a while, but when they wanted independence, the US did not let even a world war slow down the timeline for their independence. Is this the imperialistic behavior?

    The US does not keep troops and military bases where they are not wanted. After a bad incident with US sailors, the Philippines asked the US Navy to leave, and it did. Is that imperial behavior or the behavior of an ally?

    I’m afraid that you will have to explain your comment about US imperialism, as it does not fit the facts. Imperialism is not defined by whose currency is commonly traded around the world. This is an indication of the success of liberty, free markets, and the democratic (small ‘d’) nature of capitalism, not of imperialism.

    The Soviet Union, on the other hand, exhibited imperialist behavior. It refused to relinquish control over several countries and territories, including East Germany and East Berlin, after it conquered them during WWII. And then there is Crimea.

  • wayne

    We’re probably closer than it might appear with the whole prudent-fiscal hard-money topic
    All this phony fiat-money does induce a whole lot of mal-investment, which does manifest itself in part as rampant consumerism.
    I must call you on the Imperialism thing and counter-differ & we’ll just have to agree to disagree. (And I know you know that.)

    from the Econstories people (it’s packed with history but delivered in a amusing manner):

    Deck the Halls with Macro Follies
    (4:34 total)

  • wayne

    “Fight of the Century”:
    Keynes vs. Hayek Rap Battle Round Two

  • wayne

    Alex– I’m not a tin-foil hat, gold-bug guy, but I do believe our (US dollar) money has been pyramided beyond sustainability.

    Just as a brief historical aside– in the United States before FDR, “Banks” were subject to “Double-Liability.” If the bank went bust, the bank & all the Officer’s were personally liable for all Deposits. That encouraged prudent-lending & restrained the tendency to over-print their Banknotes.
    If there was even a hint of scandal– Bank-Run, and then the bankers went to prison.
    There’s a phrase that was popular pre FDR, in Banks & Investment Houses– “He that sells what isn’t his-in, buy’s it back or goes to prison.” Which applied to short-selling & taking Bank Deposits from people.

    Our Founding fathers understood Banking to a large degree, and while I believe they would not object at all to the technical-innovation’s our modern society has provided in the realm of money/commerce, I do think they would be horrified at the present state of affairs, for the reason– they understood men were greedy & would work to subvert any system, no matter how well it was constructed to avoid usurpation.

    Our Banks are essentially Nationalized, The Federal Reserve controls interest-rates, and the Federal Government has a monopoly on our money.
    In my opinion- that’s a recipe for disaster.

    We can’t reform our Banking System however, until the Federal Government has been scaled back dramatically.

    I know its only a movie—
    It’s A Wonderful Life Bank Run

  • Edward

    Here we have the Russian government going broke because the price of oil has decreased, but in America, oil and gas companies are not going broke. In fact, some of those American companies are doing very well by developing the additional sources that are responsible for the increase in supply that is causing the decrease in prices that is responsible for Russia’s plight.

    American energy companies are doing well by using Hayek’s recommended bottom up methods, specifically increasing supply, but Russia uses Keynes’s top down, central government control, methods and is going broke.

    Thank you for the reminder, wayne.

  • Andrew_W


    “Fight of the Century”:
    Keynes vs. Hayek Rap Battle Round Two

    Heh, I suggested that link to Bob as an evening pause a couple of days ago, he declined it, because rap “grates on my mind like fingernails on a blackboard.” (hope Bob doesn’t mind me repeating his comment).

    So I really think you should have attached a warning (Caution: contents may cause distress!).


  • Wayne

    Edward– Speaking of oil— Apache Oil just announced last week they discovered an 8 billion (barrel-equivalent) oil-field in Texas. (and they are noted for being extremely conservative in their estimations.)
    (remember when “they” [THEM] promised-us, we wouldn’t have any oil much past 2000?)

    Andrew_W: I may have beat you to that suggestion, but I can’t recall off hand.
    -oh yeah, rap is grating on the nerves, no matter what the message.

    The Pause however, should be a pause, and not just messaging. (except maybe on unique dates or for unique events.) I’ve submitted some well done propaganda pieces myself that didn’t make the grade–and I understand why.

    You want to make yourself useful? (and not disagreeable, maybe “redeem” yourself?)
    >Locate some of that “International Animation Festival” material shown on (American) PBS in the mid 70’s. (with Jean Marsh as host) There’s only a few low-quality snippets on YouTube.

  • Alex

    Wayne: Thank you for interesting videos and information.

  • PeterF

    The means of our economic destruction is already in place through “Quantitative Easing” There is a huge tsunami pile of worthless money already on deposit at the fed. All they have to do is raise the interest rates and hyperinflation will do the rest. There is no “fail-safe”. Once that trigger is pulled there will be no turning back.

    I wonder how George Soros and like minded lefties will pay their private security armies then? Once interstate commerce fails, they will discover that you can’t eat gold.

    Try reading “One Second After” to get an idea of what COULD happen.

    (The US constitution WILL survive)

  • wayne

    I am familiar with Denson.

    Just as an aside–one thing I’d warn you to be leery about– most, but not all, of the folks over at, think that Lincoln was a dictator. (That is where I part way with that Institution.)
    One of their main themes, is that “wars always cause a concentration of power & a permanent expansion of government.”
    (In some ways, and in certain cases, they are more concerned about that, than defeating the enemy at hand.)

    We have had plenty of American Presidents (and House & Senate) who dragged us in to stuff, for purely devious reasoning, and in contradiction of our stated ideal’s.

    Tangentially– I think you might enjoy Murray Rothbard’s work:
    “The American Economy and the end of Laissez-Faire 1870- WW-2”
    There’s a 6 part audio version at Mises, in Rothbard’s own voice.

    Rothbard is a self-professed Anarcho-Capitalist & I cannot support that in large measure. (But I fully understand it.)
    As an Economist & Historian however, he’s very brilliant.

    Our Founders were extremely concerned over “Factional-squabbling” rising in our new Country, for the reason they knew the Nature of Man inside-and-out.

    There are always devious people ready, willing, and able, to subvert any system for their own ends.

    One last tidbit– Putin is not the savior of Russia, he’s the destroyer of Russia. He’s Al Capone, with nuclear weapons.

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