WW3 already being played out in financial Markets Vladimir Putin’s worst nightmare may be happening right now

Thursday, December 4, 2014
By Paul Martin

December 4, 2014

Is Russia’s tanking economy making its leader vulnerable?

Russian President Vladimir Putin is being pushed “further into a corner” by falling oil prices, leaving him little option but to continue his aggression toward Ukraine and confrontation with the West, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer told CNBC on Tuesday.

Putin has “gone all-in on an anti-U.S., must-keep-Ukraine nationalist engagement,” Bremmer said on “Squawk Box.” He said it’s “completely inconceivable” for Putin to back down.

A plummeting currency, rising inflation and sagging oil prices — that’s the stuff Vladimir Putin’s nightmares are probably made of.

The former KGB operative has staked his reputation for years on Russia’s spectacular economic growth throughout the 2000s, thanks to its dependence on increasingly lucrative energy exports.

As the price of oil, Russia’s most important export, climbed from $16 a barrel in 1999 to more than $140 in 2008, a new middle class enjoyed the fruits of prosperity, eagerly burying the memories of the impoverished 1990s.

But as the Kremlin now lords over Ukraine and stares down the West, Putin’s nationalist gambit is finally being felt on the home front, threatening the central notion that’s helped keep him in power so long.

Russia’s currency and economy are crumbling along with oil prices, the country’s main export and revenue source. On Monday, the ruble suffered its worst one-day decline since 1998, and it looks like Russia’s economy will tip into recession next year.

“The myth of ‘stability’ has now been broken,” says Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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