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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Economic Collapse Gives Russians Some Reason to be Unhappy With Boris Yeltsin

Economic Collapse Gives Russians Some Reason to be Unhappy With Boris Yeltsin

Friday, 06 June 2014 04:53

The NYT ran an article on the construction of a monument to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The piece notes that Yeltsin is not very popular, and therefore there is little interest in the monument, however it never gives much explanation for his unpopularity.

Russia's economy suffered one of the worst collapses in history during the Yeltsin years. According to the Penn World Tables, Russia's economy contracted by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 1998, the years in which Yeltsin held power. This is a far sharper drop-off than the United States saw in the Great Depression. During this period the health care system put in place under the Soviet Union largely collapsed and life expectancy plunged.

There was also enormous corruption. According to the World Bank the government received just $8.3 billion for privatizing most of the economy's assets. This is less than half of the current market capitalization of Twitter.

An article discussing Russian views of Yeltsin should have pointed out these facts.

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by John, June 06, 2014 7:30
Yeltsin was a trend setter. He provided the kind of economic model that is more common these days: trash the economy so capitalists can come in and pick everything up for pennies.
Not as bad as you say
written by Barkley Rosser, June 06, 2014 5:11
Yes, the Russian economy did very poorly in the 90s, but it did not really drop 40%. More like a bit over 10%, still pretty bad. What happened was that there was a massive increase in the amount of economic activity that went underground and was unreported, tied to the massive increase in corruption and inequality. Electricity usage tracks this and only declined about 10%.
written by John Parks, June 06, 2014 9:04
@ Barkley
My familiarity with Russia at that time never went beyond a few contacts and what I read in their alternative news sites. Regarding that high correlation to electricity consumption and economic activity I would be interested in you directing me to some sources where this connection has been validated.

I ask this not in an adversarial tone but primarily to help me to perhaps fill in one of my many gaps (sometimes verging on chasms) in economic studies.

Thanks in advance for the help!

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.