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Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Sunday Financial Page: Annals of the Russian Stock Market


Between last Tuesday and Friday, as shown in the graph above, the Russian stock market lost 150 points on the RTS index or 7% of its value - it was down 1.5% on Friday alone. It's now given up almost all the growth it achieved between July 2nd and July 24th.

Now we know what you're going to say, Mr. Russophile K. Scumbag. You're going to say, so what, as shown below the U.S. market is down 500 points from July 19th, seeming to enter freefall after briefly cresting above a historic high of 14,000 on the Dow Jones average.

But you're overlooking three points, Gospodin Scumbag.

First, the 500-point loss on the Dow is only 3.5% of the American market, half the loss Russia has taken, and it took longer to arise.

Second, the slide in the American market caused the slide in Russia -- just as it has caused a massive slide in the Asian markets more recently. Russia's pathetic market is more vulnerable and responded more quickly to the American slide (China's has been hardly affected at all). So if there were Russians (and, oh my, there were) dancing in the streets about problems in the American market, they were classic Russian idiots. The world depends on the American market. Anything that happens to it harms the world as well, perhaps more than it does American itself. When Russia takes aggressive action to undermine America, what it in fact is doing is stabbing itself in the throat.

And finally, you're overlooking the announcement on Friday of booming economic growth numbers in the United States. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy was strong during the second quarter as the drag from the housing sector lessened. GDP during the quarter was up at a 3.4 percent annual rate April through June, compared to a prediction of 3.3 percent by economists.

Now let's put that 3.4% growth in perspective. The U.S. economy is worth over $12 trillion. That means 3.4% growth is worth $408 billion in total or $1,300 per American. If Russia posted twice as much growth, 6.8%, it would only be worth $68 billion in total and just $450 per Russian person. In other words, half the growth rate produces three times the value for America. And remember, America's growth has nothing to do with the rising price of oil; America doesn't sell oil, it just consumes it. America's growth is real, job-producing, economy expanding, society-building. Russia's is merely illusion, like winning money in a casino.

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