Russia Becomes Less Susceptible To World Economic Problems

As major global economies struggle to ward off recession following the terrorist attacks, Russia is shaping up to show the world that it will not only emerge unscathed but perhaps come out on top. As global stock markets were reeling, airlines were laying off tens of thousands of employees and consumers were staying away from stores in droves, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov made a prediction that no other leader in a leading industrial country would dare utter. He upgraded Russia's economic forecast. Kasyanov said Sept. 20 that the economy would grow this year by 5.5 percent, a figure slightly higher than previous government forecasts. President Vladimir Putin backed up that optimism. The mood in Moscow is drastically different from elsewhere. In Asia, Europe and in North America, stock brokers have long written off year-end bonuses, and investors are hoping that once the seesawing markets stabilize there will be enough money left for retirement. Economists have been hastily revising their colorful graphs to account for depressed economic expectations. But those same market watchers say Kasyanov and Putin could well be right. Russia, thanks to its insulation from other global economies, has a good chance of outperforming not only other emerging markets this year, but also showing healthier growth than economic heavyweights such as the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan. Economists say the key to this growth could well hang on two factors: global oil prices and Russian diplomacy. And even if oil prices hit bottom, diplomacy could pull Russia through, the St. Petersburg Times wrote.

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