Staunton, May 17 – Both the Russian government and the Russian people routinely make plans on the basis of possible but highly unlikely apocalyptic outcomes, a pattern that keeps tensions high and prevents them from addressing real and far more immediate problems, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin.
Indeed, there are indications that Russian leaders routinely exploits this pattern to divert attention from current problems, even though its efforts to get Russians to focus on low probability disasters frequently has the effect of causing the leaders themselves to lose focus on what is most critical.
In a new post in the wake of predictions by some financial analysts that the ruble may fall from 60 to the US dollar to 500 by 2019, Shelin argues that “the probability that ‘everything will collapse,’ although not equal to zero is too small to be the basis for choosing a strategy of survival” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/05/16/1615544.html).
Such predictions, he says, may be either inventions, something “possible but not very probable” or “a real danger for which one must prepare.” Sometimes the most disastrous things do happen, but instead of assuming that they will, Russians should consider just how probable or improbable they are.
The ruble certainly could collapse from 60 to 500 per US dollars, Shelin continues. Russia’s dependence on oil hasn’t ended, its production is falling and the central bank may seek to weaken the ruble, although its current leadership has said most recently that it won’t do so (cbr.ru/ec_research/wps/analytic_note_06.pdf).
But unless all three things happened at the same time or a worldwide economic crisis unexpectedly hit, it is difficult to see that the ruble would collapse in the way that some are now suggesting and even counting on, given that Russia’s fundamentals now are very much more favorable than they were in 1998.
Most likely, Shelin says, the ruble will slowly decline in value but not collapse as these apocalyptic predictions would have it. There will always be those who will make such predictions because they will get the most attention, but it is a mistake for everyone else to ignore other evidence that suggest such predictions are overblown.
Only if Russians do that, he suggests, will they have the chance to focus on real problems and real solutions rather than imaginary problems that almost by definition have no solution short of some kind of deus ex machina.