The Wall Street Journal reports that in its Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Russia No. 66, below Vietnam and above Peru, dropping three places from the previous report as labor market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation deteriorated. The latter, the article points out, will be particularly galling for modernizing President Medvedev. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has said that the 2012 budget deficit is likely to be ‘significantly lower’ than the initial forecast of 2.7 percent of the GDP. Russia will sign a contract with France for the third and fourth Mistral-class amphibious assault ships before the end of this year. In line with its global expansion strategy, Gap Inc. has announced it will open its first Banana Republic store in Russia through its franchise channel. Could the spate of failed spacecraft launches in recent months be due to misuse of funds at the Federal Space Agency? According to the Moscow Times, United Company RusAl is being investigated by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service after a client claimed it abused its dominant market position.