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Do No Wrong

Yale economist Aleh Tsyvinski writes in the Moscow Times about his impressions coming out of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum:

Not surprisingly, the most anticipated speech at the St. Petersburg forum was from President Dmitry Medvedev. First, we learned that the anti-crisis economic decisions of the last year were successful. Second, Russia continues lobbying for reform of the international financial architecture, improving the system of global financial regulation, empowering the international financial institutions and creating reserve currencies as an alternative to the dollar. Finally and the most pleasing to my economic ear, Medvedev rebuked protectionism and supported lowering taxes as a part of the growth stimulus.

But overall, Medvedev’s speech was disappointing. The opportunity to outline a clear government anti-crisis program during the relative lull in the crisis was missed. I was hoping that the president would talk not only about what the government did right in fighting the crisis, but more important, what was done wrong. To the government’s credit, the collapse of the banking system was averted, there was no large-scale nationalization of the private companies, and the ruble was finally devalued. But the mistakes are glaring and could have been acknowledged as well.