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HSE Academic Supervisor, Professor Evgeniy Yasin, opened the XIV HSE April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.

The XIV HSE April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development started in Moscow on April 2, 2013. HSE Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Yasin addressed the first plenary session on the Global Economic Crisis and the Russian Economy.

Evgeniy Yasin
Evgeniy Yasin
HSE Academic Supervisor Evgeniy Yasin's report on 'A New Model of Economic Growth' was co-authored with Director of the HSE 'Centre of Development' Institute Natalia Akindinova, Director of the HSE International Institute for Industrial and Market Studies Andrei Yakovlev, and HSE First Vice Rector Lev Yakobson. The report focuses primarily on Russia's problems, but, as the HSE Academic Supervisor noted, 'new models of economic growth are relevant everywhere, not only in Russia'.

 

'The global economy is going through a prolonged crisis', reminded Evgeniy Yasin. 'This is due to the fact that the world is undergoing tectonic shifts, and we do not yet quite understand their nature … In my opinion, developed countries are faced with a technological barrier, and economic growth rates are now largely determined by the dynamics of innovation, rather than by extraction of cheap mineral resources. Better productivity driven by innovation is the main source of economic growth today; turning on the printing press and printing some more money for the economy will no longer work'.

Developing countries, according to Evgeniy Yasin, 'may be in a better position now'. They are enjoying a temporary advantage by adopting a 'catch-up development' mode through 'yesterday's innovation' and the use of cheap labor.

Russia is between these two poles. 'We have no competitive advantages besides natural resources', noted Evgeny Yasin. Labour in Russia is more expensive than in developing countries, while technology lags behind that of developed countries.

Before the 2008-2009 crisis, Russia showed higher rates of economic growth than the world average (7.5% in 2003-2007), but there was a sharp decline during the crisis, and the post-crisis recovery is comparable to the global average. The situation is exacerbated by 'the increasingly negative dynamics of private investment'. At the same time, increased military and security spending exceeds the growth of spending on education and health care, i.e. investment in human capital.

'We are not likely to see fast growth rates in the world economy, and oil prices will remain high, but it will not have the same effect on the Russian economy as before the crisis', Evgeniy Yasin believes. 'That is why we need a new economic growth model'.

First plenary session on ‘The Global Economic Crisis and the Russian Economy’
First plenary session on ‘The Global Economic Crisis and the Russian Economy’
The HSE Academic Supervisor outlined a number of different scenarios for Russia's socio-economic development. Typically, two scenarios dominate the public debate - a 'business as usual' scenario, which may also be called a monetarist scenario, and an expansionist scenario where oil and gas revenues are used to boost public investment. In turn, the Ministry of Economic Development has presented three development scenarios: conservative (similar to 'business as usual'), accelerated (similar to expansionary), and innovative. HSE experts have also been working on scenarios presented at last year's April Conference; they include: modernization from the top down, modernization from the bottom up, and 'gradual development through institutional reforms', which Evgeny Yasin considers the best option.

For this latter scenario to be implemented, five basic conditions need to be met: to establish the rule of law, fostering the independence of courts; to reshape the relationships between business and the law enforcement and judicial agencies; to reform local government, expanding its authority, and to restore true federalism; to encourage private investment (especially in the pension system and health care); and to promote democracy.

The authors of the report believe that 'new Russian business' and 'the new bureaucracy' are the driving forces capable of making the above a reality. In previous years, business and bureaucracy were often in conflict, business won the first round, in the 1990s, and bureaucracy took revenge after 2003, but the new generation of business owners and bureaucrats are prepared to cooperate, and various business associations will play an important role in this dialogue.

And finally, civil society is the third player charged with an important role in shaping the new economic growth model. Of particular importance is mutual trust, without which attracting private investment in the economy and social institutions will be extremely difficult. Evgeniy Yasin feels certain that increasing household incomes will not lead to an inflationary surge and will be balanced by a flow of private investment into pension and social security funds.

The World Bank's Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Kaushik Basuand prominent Polish economist Marek Dabrowski also addressed the plenary, speaking about the causes of the global financial crisis and the prospects for recovery. The chairman of the Committee for Civic Initiatives and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin commented on the government's monetary policies and criticized the government's projection for Russia's development to 2030.

Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service

Photo: Nikita Benzoruk

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