Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Should Russia Be Crucified Because It Mainly Exports Natural Resources?

So do Australia and Canada. Besides what has Barack Obama ever made?


US president Obama has a history of negative (and inacurate) statements on Russia. One of his running themes is that Russia doesn't make anything. At least not anything anybody would want to buy.

Obama in 2014:

"I do think it's important to keep perspective. Russia doesn't make anything. Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking."

Obama last week:

"The Russians can't change us or significantly weaken us. They are a smaller country, they are a weaker country, their economy doesn't produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms. They don't innovate."

Of course Obama isn't alone in his views, this is pretty standard fare for any liberals or westerners in general who think they know something about Russia.

Yes so Russia mainly exports oil and gas and other natural resources, is that something bad? Oil, gas, coal, timber, and all manner of metals and minerals make up for a majority of its exports. So what of it?

Westerners generally pride themselves on being more closely acquainted with market economics than Russians but Obama apparently skipped the lesson on comparative advantages. Russia accounts for 2 percent of the global population, but by some estimates 30 percent of the world's natural resources. Given such an abundance Russians would be foolish not to take advantage of it.

Even Australia and Canada, with their much greater per capita wealth, nonetheless primarily export natural resources. Sparsely populated as they are their supply of labor is very finite and therefore their domestic demand for their resources is very limited -- yet these represent such a lucrative opportunity it just wouldn't make sense to keep them in the ground.

Obama is correct that Russia's military-scientific sector is another big export earner for the country. But arms are hardly the only technology that sector produces. Space rockets, satellites, transport planes and nuclear power plants are just some of the technologies that come to mind that Russia makes money on. Actually Obama should have said that Russia exports very little but natural resources and highly advanced military and dual-use technology but I guess that does not have quite the same damning ring to it.

In fact how can it be said that the country which was the first to send a man to space and maintains one of only two space-based positioning systems in the world does not innovate?

And another thing, what has Barack Obama ever made? Obama is comparing Russia to the most productive economy in the world. Of course next to the US any other country in the world looks less economically significant.

However, if I am correct before he was president Obama had been a "community organizer" and a law professor. In other words Obama has not made a single thing in his life. No matter how unproductive every single Russian worker, and there are millions, has been more economically significant than Barack who is trying so hard to belittle their output.


Support Russia Insider - Go Ad-Free!

Our commenting rules: You can say pretty much anything except the F word. If you are abusive, obscene, or a paid troll, we will ban you. Full statement from the Editor, Charles Bausman.