Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 22, 2008

The Financial Times Construes Propaganda

Finally Russia is losing the war against Georgia!!! Investors are rushing out of the country!!! There might be a financial crisis in Russia!!! The power of the 'global markets' are fighting Russia!!! This will provide 'an important check on Kremlin decision-making'!!!

So is the Financial Times telling its readers today. Under the headline Investors quit Russia after Georgia war it asserts:

Investors pulled their money out of Russia in the wake of the Georgia conflict at the fastest rate since the 1998 rouble crisis, new figures showed on Thursday.

Russian debt and equity markets have also suffered sharp falls since the conflict began on August 8, with yields on domestic rouble bonds increasing by up to 150 basis points in the last month.

Money is fleeing the country, the rouble crisis, sharp falls in the stock market, increasing yields ... terrible indeed.

Now may we check the numbers please?

Let's start with bond yields. I don't have access to the Russian rouble bond index (the MICEX CBI), but was it really the war that began on August 8 that induced the yield increase up to 150bp in the last month?

Consider this Reuters piece written on August 7 when the war was only on Saakashili's and his minders' minds:

Russia's LSR Group placed a five-year rouble bond at par with a coupon rate above the initial guidance, confirming that funding costs for construction firms are rising, market data showed.

London-listed LSR placed 5 billion roubles ($212 million) of the bond at a coupon rate of 13.25 percent and an 18-month put option. The company earlier provided a coupon rate guidance for the bond at 11.75-12.75 percent.

Here we have a sudden 150 base point yield increase above the lower original guidance. But this increase happened on August the 7th. It had nothing to do with the war. LSR is a property developer operating in Petersburg. The reasons for its higher bond rate are the cooling property markets there and the global credit crunch.

Domestic rouble bonds may have increase by 'up to' 150 basis points 'in the last month'? But what is the evidence that this occurred because of the war instead of the general economic conditions?

But the Financial Times has more:

Data released by Russia’s central bank showed a drop in foreign currency reserves of just over $16.4bn in the week beginning August 8. This was one of the largest absolute weekly drops in 10 years, according to Ivan Tchakarov at Lehman Brothers.

The only larger drop in reserves since 1998 was $16.5bn in June 2006, when Russia paid off the bulk of its Paris club debt.

Of course you can use absolute numbers, but what do they tell you?

According to the Russian Central Bank statistics the reserves indeed fell by 16.4 billion between August 8 and August 15 to $581 billion. But that change was only -2.7% of the total reserves. The change in June 2006, while in the same absolute range, was at that time -16.5% of then $275 billion total reserves.

Weekly swings in the range of 2 to 3% of reserves are not uncommon. Between May 5 and May 11 2007, Russian reserves changed by +3.8%. In the second week of 2005 reserves changed by -3.6 percent, two weeks later they changed by +8.1%.

The change in reserve assets does not tell anything about the reasons behind this. Maybe a Russian company payed multibillions for another U.S. steel company during that week? To say it is the war that induced the current one is pure speculation. What wars took place at the beginning of 2005 and what happened in May 2007?

But the FT has a third point of evidence:

While the value of the rouble has stayed relatively stable since the start of the conflict, with the help of central bank intervention, the stock market has fallen 6.5 per cent since August 7 and companies have found it harder to raise capital as investors demand sharply higher yields to buy their bonds to reflect the perceived risk.

The Russian Trading System Stock Exchange (RTS) Index fell over 30% over the last four month. That is a big drop but it has nothing to do with a war that started August 8.

In July alone the RTS Index fell 14.3%. As the monthly RTS report for July explains (pdf):

More than 50% of the RTSI total capitalization is concentrated in the oil and gas sector. The other large-weight sectors at the end of July were finance – (19.1 %) and metallurgy (14.9%).

The stock prices for oil and steel companies depend largely on the price of the commodities they trade in. Since commodity prices dropped over the last month, the index drop is no surprise at all and has likely nothing to do with Georgia.

From the chart you can tell that there was a big drop on August 8-10 when the war started. But two days later the index was back on its August 5 level. The drop that occurred because of Saak's splendid little war was immediately repaired .

You can also see that there was an even bigger drop on July 24. Did I miss a war that started on that date?

No. On July 24 Putin lashed out against the Russian coal and steel company Mechel for price manipulations. Earlier the Federal Antimonopoly Service had launched a case against the company. Putin made sure that this got attention and Mechel stocks dropped by a third.

It seems as if Putin bullying a local company has more financial effect than Putin bullying Georgia.

The FT's evidence for financial markets reactions to the Georgian war is very thin. The three indicators presented, rising bond yields, reserve swings and stock prices, may have been influenced by the war. But there is zero evidence that they have reacted because of the war. Instead there is evidence that they have likely reacted for other purely economic reason.

But what is the FT's conclusion?

The moves show that Russia’s economy, in spite of having one of the strongest national balance sheets in the world, is not immune to global market sentiment, which could end up being an important check on Kremlin decision-making.

Based on three numbers mixed with hot air, the FT believes 'global market sentiment' influenced these.  Could it be that local market sentiment in Russia played a bigger role? Or could it be that 'global sentiment' is different from what the FT writers perceive?

Only yesterday Kishore Mahbubani opined in the very same Financial Times:

The combined western population in North America, the European Union and Australasia is 700m, about 10 per cent of the world’s population. The remaining 90 per cent have gone from being objects of world history to subjects. The Financial Times headline of August 18 2008 proclaimed: “West in united front over Georgia”. It should have read: “Rest of the world faults west on Georgia”.

If 'global market sentiment' really induced a reaction to the Georgia war on Russian financial markets, shouldn't those markets have gone up?

And where is proof that financial issues are able to influence Kremlin decision-making at all? The Kremlin sits on a soft and nice cushion of $600 billion in foreign currency reserves. A few billion more or less is unlikely to make any difference to its decisions.

I find such propaganda as the FT obviously construed here dangerous. It may make 'western' decision makers believe that they have leverage over Russia using some financial trickery.

Such believe is likely false. But decisions and actions based on propaganda induced believes can have negative effects in other areas. One must be careful to not fall for them.

Posted by b on August 22, 2008 at 13:53 UTC | Permalink


And by pulling money out, where are they going to park it? US dollars, GBP? At least Russia has physical,mineral wealth that is mandatorily required for comsumption by countries, so there is at least some comfort in owning oil/mineral company shares.

As opposed to putting it in hedge funds and futures trading, where a lot of paper gets traded. lots of pieces of paper.

Posted by: shanks | Aug 22 2008 16:04 utc | 1

curse you paper! god bless mother russia!!

Posted by: rbv | Aug 22 2008 16:35 utc | 2


you are self evidently a scibe who scribbles his sketches simpering while those who rule from the roll of dollars teeter tellingly not into transcendance, but into the tip

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 22 2008 16:48 utc | 3

but was it really the war that began on August 8 that induced the yield increase up to 150bp in the last month?

i would think it had more to do with putin's attacks on mechel and tnk-bp than with either georgia or oil. the rts index peaked may 19, oil in early july.

Posted by: rbv | Aug 22 2008 16:49 utc | 4

where'd we pick up the peanut gallery?

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 16:50 utc | 5

where'd we pick up the peanut gallery?

not an encouraging sign for the MICEX bottom pickers among us ... "annie" is buying....

annie dear lets make a side bet -- if RTS is below 1600 in a week you have to admit to peanut gallery membership... otherwise you'll get a groveling apology from me and i'll disappear forever. do we have a deal?

Posted by: rbv | Aug 22 2008 17:05 utc | 6


[U.S. ambassador to Russia] John Beyrle also told the Kommersant Friday that Russia "gave a well-grounded response" to a Georgian attack on Russian peacekeepers, but exceeded its authority by invading Georgia proper.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2008 18:06 utc | 7

@rbv - stop trolling here or I will ban you without any further discussion.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2008 18:07 utc | 8

i am not your dear and do not patronize me.

fyi A peanut gallery is an audience that heckles the performer.

i do not heckle b. he has written a post for us. i find your behavior rude to our host. you are a guest here as we all are. that is merely my interpretation of your 'humor' and should not be interpreted as representing anyone other than myself.

ps i just saw b's #8 post (after writing this) but i am posting this anyway.

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 18:21 utc | 9

@rbv - stop trolling here or I will ban you without any further discussion.

b, what exactly is your definition of trolling? your regular commenters (like sweet, dear annie) have been all over me since my first (quite innocent) post.

I'll save you the trouble and ban myself, with apologies for stooping to her level.

Posted by: rbv | Aug 22 2008 18:49 utc | 10

lot's of this financial stuff is way over my head but i wondered about the agenda behind the article and which economist was placing their reputation behind the information. just out of curiosity i googled the author, charles clover.

it appears he may have started writng for the financial times on july 21st of this year.

prior to that he was environmental editor for The Daily Telegraph. seems he went from farmyard manure and energy saving lightbulbs to covering russia for FT seamlessly. a previous stint as editor at The Spectator outs him as a conservative. hmm

clover july 29th..Foreign investors in Russia have been served a costly reminder of the political risks of doing business in the country after a week in which a few sentences from Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, helped wipe out half of the value of a New York-listed steelmaker.

here's an interview w/salon

re endangered fish and the glories of fisheries

You also uncover a hidden secret about McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwich: that the fish comes from two fisheries actually certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. In other words, McDonald's fish sandwich is more sustainable than Nobu's tuna sashimi. Did that surprise you?

Not really. McDonald's is sustainable because it is a big company and needs continuity of supply, but isn't that arguably a definition of sustainability?

Buying Alaskan pollock as McDonald's does is not a bad practice -- except that they don't seek to advertise their MSC connection, which might mean they would have to pay for the logo. Gambling you can make your fortune before you run out of exotic fish is an individual decision and one Nobu shares with many restaurateurs from Asia.


Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 19:33 utc | 11

sorry, my july 21st link didn't work.

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 19:39 utc | 12

annie dear lets make a side bet

I'm sorry but you have'nt been around long enough to earn that right. By the way, Annie is a gorgeous babe. With dazzling intelligence & rare insight.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 22 2008 19:40 utc | 13

Thanks annie - I didn't check the author - debunking that sorry excuse of 'analysis' was enough for my aspiration today. I wonder who edited that baseless stuff and who put in on the front page this morning.

Looks like that rag is going the Murdoch way too now. They were usually better at least with the financial stuff.

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2008 19:54 utc | 14


ok, back to business..

seems mr clover is one step ahead of the crowd. when he landed in moscow he got down to business in no time.

august 4th
Putin moves to bolster Cuba ties

"Vladimir Putin has called for a restoration of Moscow’s influence in Cuba, once a Soviet satellite, as tensions with the US deepen over Washington’s planned anti-missile system in eastern Europe.

“We need to re-establish positions on Cuba and in other countries,” the Russian prime minister said at a weekly cabinet meeting, according to Interfax News Agency.

Mr Putin’s directive comes in the midst of a sharp increase in tension between the US and Russia. Moscow is angered by US-inspired plans to expand Nato to include Ukraine and Georgia, proposed this year, as well as Washington’s proposals for an anti-missile defence system to be based in eastern Europe, which Russia says would threaten its own security.

An official at the Russian foreign ministry last week gave a background briefing for journalists in which he appeared to threaten Washington with a complete breakdown in relations over the missile defence system. He said that Moscow could allow itself “not to have any relations with some of its partners, if they would ­prefer it that way”....

Mr Putin’s comments suggest that the Kremlin might be seeking to re-establish cold war strategic links that ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last month, an article in Russian newspaper Izvestia suggested Russia might use Cuba as refuelling point for its strategic nuclear capable bomber fleet. The Russian defence ministry eventually denied the report and said it had no plans to open any military bases abroad.

Dmitri Trenin, a political analyst at the Moscow Carnegie centre, a think-tank, said the ­article was likely to be part of a psychological campaign to make the US “come to its senses”. He added there was no strategic reason for Russian bombers to use Cuba for refuelling.

mr clover is certainly 'in the know'

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 19:59 utc | 15

I wonder who edited that baseless stuff and who put in on the front page this morning.

b, i wonder who (cherry picked?) clover to head on over to moscow (just in time eh)and what incentives they gave him to abandon his job covering the environment for the conservative telegraph.

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 20:04 utc | 16

At least the yield on the 10-year government benchmark in Russia rose by some 70bp on the day the war truly erupted. 70bp+ is not 150bp, but I suggest checking such simple things out before going parabolic.

I do appreciate your perspective though.

Posted by: pecanpie | Aug 22 2008 20:14 utc | 17


You're a fuckhead.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 22 2008 20:55 utc | 18

@pecanpie - Do you have a link or number for that?

Despite closely watching the financial news, I haven't seen any report on that. So please add some beef to that instead of just throwing in a number that may be unfounded.

Also if that assertion is true when and by much (if any) did the bonds recover?

Posted by: b | Aug 22 2008 20:58 utc | 19

trolling, the way i understand it, includes baiting online forum participants in order to intentionally piss them off. trolls are usually pathetic creatures with insecurity issues and by trolling they are expressing latent rage from their inability to positively negotiate normal human relationships. trolls generally use hot button issues, which they push over and over until they achieve the intended response.

angrily rebuking trolls is a waste of time. like proselytizers screaming on street corners, they feed on the emotions they stir up. therefore a strategy of non-engagement is usually the best course of action. silence can be deafening.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 22 2008 21:40 utc | 20

Trolling here means disagreement w/ b's lugubrious weltschmertz in which the internets is big enough to always find a round hole big enough to pound a square peg.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 22 2008 22:23 utc | 21


trolls are usually pathetic creatures with insecurity issues and by trolling they are expressing latent rage from their inability to positively negotiate normal human relationships.

not always. remember the main objective of trolling is to disturb the flow of communication, or to move it into a direction that serves you, or the corporation you work for. also, to degrade the site, and the author of the site either thru humiliation or challenge or whatever. i don't always think it is latent rage, i think it is used as a tactic (of the empire!) in warfare or freetrade or whatever.

for example, notice how the particular author of the FT article, clover, was sent to russia prior to the invasion. the theme of '2nd cold war' was likely conceived by think tans sometime last year when playing the runup to the election then introduced by the press to soften the targets (us) a meme was introduced that builds subtly so that by the time an event occurs (surprise invasion) there is already a frame set in place like a loom the weaver can simply continue. (btw, it isn't illegal to start this meme thru the british press as it would be here if it contains outright lies, like perhaps those supposed quotes of putins published in Interfax News Agency.)

also note today an article in raw story w/supporting docs Documents reveal PR push for Iraq war preceded intel findings.

in preparation for any kind of big shift in the publics thinking think tanks work thru the press proceeding events, during events, and of course years down the road until lies/reality land in history books their way. these think tanks like saic or whatever have gazillions of dollars. it makes no sense for them to lay the groundwork and not employ little minions to do followup. ok, maybe i am just paranoid (gee ya think). anyway, uncle introduced some really interesting links a while back about group think, how to shape groupthink by identifying certain characters.. i forget the name.. the government uses it alot, it will come to me.

i don't think it ever serves to take these things personally, or to assume a troll is on a personal vendetta, tho of course sometimes they are. i tend to think they have a job to do, and they are doing it in the most effective way they can.

this site presents a challenge for those whose job it is to create a framework of/for propaganda for events.

by entering a thread at the very beginning and setting a tone of 'how absurd' signals to me somebody really doesn't want this information challenged.

imagine if a whole bunch of people thought the neocons moscow shill worked thru FT (not exactly a reputation like the telegraph) to write a series of building cold war articles. maybe it has no basis in truth at all. but maybe it does. outing a reporter as a shill makes everything he says suspect. you might as well just put 'kagan' next to his name. so of course they might monitor sites that link to the articles. maybe. i would , if i had invested a lot into an agenda. its not like they don't have a ton of cash. look at freedom watch, my god.

anyway, that is my opinion. it will be interesting to keep track of clover's pieces. FT has a hot new reporter on the moscow beat. heads up everyone.

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 22:49 utc | 22

No slothrop, it means farting in preference to speaking. ( I say this, knowing my own yelling "fire" in a crowded theater is perceived as noxious gas.)

Posted by: plushtown | Aug 22 2008 22:58 utc | 23

remember the objective of trolling is to disturb the flow of communication...

we may have slightly different definitions of what constitutes a troll. i was referring more to (unpaid) trolls who engage in derailment for personal pleasure. if they're getting paid, i think that changes things.

in any case, i don't always agree with our host, but i'm also not always convinced of the infallibility of my arguments.

most here post in the spirit of learning/teaching. a few merely lecture from their narrow reality tunnels, maybe drawing a paycheck, or maybe just natural born assholes. or, maybe both.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 22 2008 23:20 utc | 24

Russian debt and equity markets have also suffered sharp falls since the conflict began on August 8

10 days earlier he wrote (#11 link)Foreign investors in Russia have been served a costly reminder of the political risks of doing business in the country after a week in which a few sentences from Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, helped wipe out half of the value of a New York-listed steelmaker.

the theme being pushed is 'fear russian investment'. out of curiosity i googled russian investment (news) and guess what? 7 hr ago time magazine published Risky Business in Russia

But heightened political tensions between Russia and the West are sure to prompt potential investors to take an even longer, closer look before plunging into the Russian market. yada yada...In a note to clients, Commerzbank analyst Michael Ganske wrote: "The strong macroeconomic story of the country is increasingly obscured by homemade negative headlines and developments that clearly worsen the economic outlook for Russia." Ganske went so far as to call the Georgia war "a bloody next act in a screenplay that could be named 'how to destroy the investment story of one of the strongest credits in the emerging-markets universe.' "

more than one way to skin a cat?

Posted by: annie | Aug 22 2008 23:20 utc | 25


your edges are but facet vertices of the gem you are

Posted by: Juannie | Aug 22 2008 23:54 utc | 26

batting eyelashes . whiskey on the house!


say it isn't so Sergei!

It was unclear if there would be any impact on a crucial aspect of NATO-Russian cooperation: the deal under which Moscow allows aircraft supplying the NATO-led force in Afghanistan to fly through Russian airspace.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was "not going to shut the doors" on cooperation with NATO, but he pointedly raised the issue of Afghanistan transit.

"After the famous NATO meeting (when the alliance froze contacts with Russia), some leading alliance officials were whispering in my ears: 'You are not going to halt the Afghanistan transit, are you?,"' he said.

pickles amyone?

Posted by: annie | Aug 23 2008 2:05 utc | 27

The recent Financial Times has an all red front cover, that reminds me of the old style Soviet art that used to advertise May Day parades in Moscow. The cover features a similarly styled graphic of Putin, and troops marching, and a title "Russia On The March" or something like that. Right beside it on the news stand, I am amazed to see the current Newsweek that also has its cover saturated with the identical shade of red, with the Fareed Zakaria story, "What Bush Got Right". There was a third current events magazine (I forget what) featuring the same strange sort of pale tomato soup shade of red.

Voila! the new product line of Cold War II and legacy cranked out like sausage, a tip of the hat to our shady Criminal-in-Chief, some melted butter poured for the Chimp, and the whole fear of Russia meme, right on cue.

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 23 2008 3:10 utc | 28

A takedown of Bernard-Henri Levy in Georgia by (french) (Google translation (englisch)

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 3:44 utc | 29

Ukraine opposition to send Georgian leader neckties to chew on

KIEV, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's opposition party has pledged to send 365 neckties to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was recently caught on camera nervously chewing his garment while discussing the Georgian-Russian conflict.

Saakashvili has caused an internet sensation with his tie-chewing antics, captured during a phone conversation with a top Western official and aired by the BBC, ...

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 4:31 utc | 30

The NYT adds to the meme:

Already, Russia’s financial markets have evinced concern about that, with the stock market falling since the conflict began and capital flowing out of the country at a fast pace.

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 4:41 utc | 31


I can email you a time series when I get back to work on Monday, if you wish.

Posted by: pecanpie | Aug 23 2008 7:32 utc | 32

Novosti says

The armed conflict between Georgia and Russia over breakaway South Ossetia wiped $7 billion off the Russian stock market, Russia's Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Sunday.

Georgia launched major ground and air attacks to seize control of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send in tanks and thousand of troops. Russia announced on August 12 a halt to its operation to force Georgia to accept peace.

According to Kudrin, capital outflow hit $6 billion on August 8 and another $1 billion on August 11.

Kudrin said net capital inflow in 2008 will be slightly below the $30-40 billion figure predicted by the Central Bank of Russia.

"Capital inflow will be slightly below the official forecast due to the persisting global financial crisis and certain political risks that have emerged recently and influenced foreign investors' behavior," Kudrin said.

So someone (two guesses) worded up a few fellow travellers to try and pressure Russia by pulling out dough but since it was done on the 8th before Russia was alleged to have been so naughty, we can assume that this was a fit-up that failed. $7 bill is a lot for most of us mob, but a pittance in a capital market as big as Russia's.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 23 2008 7:43 utc | 33

@Debs - further into that piece there is a better (and plausible) explanation.

"While there was a substantial amount of capital flight in the week between Aug. 8 and Aug. 16, much of the volume was due to Russian investors decreasing ruble exposure by converting them into dollars, but not necessarily taking the money out of the country," Smith said.

Vladimir Osakovsky, an economist at UniCredit Aton, estimated that about $5 billion of the decline in reserves was down to the euro's fall against the dollar, while another $1 billion was due to falling gold prices.

About 50 percent of Russia's international reserves are placed in dollar assets while 40 percent are in euros. Another 9 percent, mainly gold reserves, are denominated in pounds sterling.

The dollar will fall again in a month or so and then the Russian reserves will rise again.

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 8:12 utc | 34

AP joins the FT propaganda: Georgia, Khodorkovsky case hurt Russia sentiment

Georgia added to the sense of uncertainty that was already weighing on stocks even before the clash broke out. Investors were being scared off by new fears that politics could disrupt business, as a dispute between oil major BP PLC and Russian billionaire shareholders over the BP-TNK oil joint venture chilled the investment climate after the venture's CEO was forced out of the country over immigration issues.

Then, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused Russian mining company Mechel of price fixing, causing Mechel's shares to plummet.

As a result of this cocktail of factors, major funds have started reining in investment, as suggested by a recent drop in foreign currency reserves and the stock market dip.

Elena Shaftan, head of Jupiter's Emerging European Opportunities fund, which has around 600 million pounds ($1.1 billion) under management, said fears over the Mechel case combined with falling commodities prices — Russia is the world's largest single oil producer — caused the fund to reduce its exposure to the country from 70 percent to just 45 percent earlier this month.

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 8:24 utc | 35

The U.S. is balking that Russian troops have not completely withdrawn. Bush/Rice try to get away from the ceasefire agreement that was actually signed.

That was this one: The 6 point ceasefire agreement Article published on the 2008-08-16

The six points in the French-brokered Russia-Georgia cease-fire pact, detailed Wednesday by European Union foreign ministers:
* No recourse to the use of force.

* A lasting cessation of hostilities.

* Unfettered access for humanitarian aid providers.

* Georgian forces must withdraw to their usual barracks.

* Russian forces must go back to positions they held prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Pending an international peace monitoring mechanism, Russian peacekeepers will take additional security measures.

* Launch of international discussions on security and stability arrangements for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia is now taking "additional security measures" by making sure that no artillery comes near South Ossetia and no heavy weapons come in through Pori port.

That is sensible in my view. The 'western' MSM will of course tell you something different ...

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 8:44 utc | 36

I'm curious. Is it an rbv and slothrop tag-team, or simply that slothrop has an alternate ISP?

Posted by: DM | Aug 23 2008 9:33 utc | 37

I see nothing of the troll in rbv's post #6. I see a good-humored challenge, nothing more.

And in what possible way does a poster have to "earn the right" to offer a side-bet to anyone? (#13). Does anyone on earth have to "earn the right" to make a side-bet with anyone? And if so in this bar, does it mean that the bar has become a club of some kind--a gambling-club, for example? I certainly hope not!

rbv raises contrary points, contesting points, actually pertaining to the points under discussion. And I see nothing abusive in the salutation "annie dear heart": I suspect I've used it myself from time to time, usually in moments of good cheer. It's certainly very remote, in my mind, from the phrase "you're a fuckhead" (#18). And contrary to #37, I see rather little similarity in the two correspondents' lines of argument, and none at all in matters of self-presentation.

b, I'm astonished and impressed by your command of the Georgia topic, and can only learn from your threads of the past three weeks. But I must ask you this question: does the topic affect you in ways that might diminish your native patience and hospitality? If so, would it be due to an investment (not financial) in the topic that sets it apart from others? And if it is, I'd be interested to know what that investment might be. If it isn't so, I'd be even more interested to know why the topic has earned such a level of attention on your part (granted, to be sure, that it's a very urgent subject--like others treated here over the past three weeks).

Posted by: alabama | Aug 23 2008 12:26 utc | 38

alabama: #2 shows an intention to ridicule, not contribute. that's the snarky bait. and just by having this conversation a certain amount of distraction has already taken place.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 23 2008 16:44 utc | 39

Actually, the filthy troll rbv is correct here, offering a general admonition to the view Russia acts first as Russia, second as global capitalist junior partner.

Investment in Russia as FDI is low considering how much capital is repatriated via Cyprus. Much of this has to do w/ weak institutions (property rights, baby), low productivity, capital flight, aging population/declining birthrate.

The invasion/defense of pseudo-russians in ersatz georgia doesn't help the klepto-putinists to attract investment. That's for sure. In the long-run this bit of imperialist posturing seems counterproductive. Consider how the control of energy resources as a foreign policy weapon has been useless since the 1973 oil shock? Please explain how the Russians will bring the west to heel by invading Georgia? The idea that Russians will win the Great Chess Game and then turn off the energy spigot to "the west" doesn't make any sense.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 23 2008 17:39 utc | 40


Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 17:46 utc | 42

as is your habitude at the mmoment - it is you who does not make any sense. in your valiant attempts to attack any notion of u s imperialism - you rush readily into the role of anti moscow hysteric - with as little comprehension as your notations on iraq

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 17:49 utc | 43

As usual, you didn't answer my q's.

They're simple questions a genius like yourself should be able to answer.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 23 2008 17:52 utc | 44

But I bet DM has a hot conspiracy theory which will serve as decisive denunciation of our trolls here.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 23 2008 17:56 utc | 45

because in this time, they are indecently posed - they are part of an enormous chorus of the western media's demonisation of russia, which is demonisation no.4007 & frankly on every front whether it is financial, about internal media in russia, on the relation between prime minister putin & president medvedev - they are largely fabrication & like bhl's little essay - fabulations

indeed the demonisation is fueled by its own infamy

& you know it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 18:03 utc | 46>‘We do not understand the nervousness of the press about Russia investing abroad. Where does this hysteria come from? It’s not the Red Army that wants to come to Germany. It’s just the same capitalists as you.'-V. Putty putt Putin

Written by Perry Anderson, who I'm sure DM can prove to be a neo-Birchite, CIA asset.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 23 2008 18:17 utc | 47

Oh, for fuck's sake. Just answer the questions.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 23 2008 18:18 utc | 48

@alabama - b, I'm astonished and impressed by your command of the Georgia topic, and can only learn from your threads of the past three weeks. But I must ask you this question: does the topic affect you in ways that might diminish your native patience and hospitality?

I hope not. rbv has trolled much worse in other threats. It was not his remark above that brought the warning but completely unreflected and unsubstantiated comments he made in earlier threats here.

If so, would it be due to an investment (not financial) in the topic that sets it apart from others?

Hmm ... I have a different view on Russia than most people in the 'west' have. Hey my ancestors have killed 20,000,000 of them not so long ago - call that a non-financial investment, a big one. Russia really had a bad time the last 100 years and it deserves some slack ... besides that, Russians are much more capable, modern and political aware then the 'west' believes.

And if it is, I'd be interested to know what that investment might be. If it isn't so, I'd be even more interested to know why the topic has earned such a level of attention on your part (granted, to be sure, that it's a very urgent subject--like others treated here over the past three weeks).

I was simply quite early on the topic and I was also, dare I say, quite right. I posted on the 8th at 8am EST when there was hardly any news out and I got it right. The title was Saakashvili Wants War - He Will Get It. The piece had more background than most MSN sources served a week later and the prediction in the title fulfilled itself. It simply went from there ...

I was myself astonished how right I was on most prediction points. I'll have to think about why that might be the case. Russians and Germans think pretty much alike. Maybe that's the reason.

Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 18:51 utc | 49

@pecanpie I can email you a time series when I get back to work on Monday, if you wish.

Yes please moonofa @


Posted by: b | Aug 23 2008 18:56 utc | 50

in a word

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 19:41 utc | 51

Thanks, b, for the considered reply; and remembereringgiap, for that stunning link to Deleuze (je ne l'ai jamais rencontré, ce texte-là).

Posted by: alabama | Aug 23 2008 20:56 utc | 52

b, I'm going to unban myself very quickly for what I think may be a worthy purpose... dispelling any hint of an idea that I intended to piss you off personally.

I had no idea that you'd take severe personal offense at remarks critical of the forum or of other posters. Very sorry to have hurt your feelings. Though I confess I 'm still scratching my head about these "unsubstantiated' comments I made somewhere that caused you such consternation.

Auto-banning resumed. Unless expressly invited, you won't hear from me again.

Posted by: rbv | Aug 24 2008 17:27 utc | 53

Well, rgiap, goes to show how fungible oil/gas is in the world market. Production of energy resources is destined for the world market. If Russia reduces production as a tool to punish "the west," it loses revenue. This political use of energy resources also affects the exchange of all commodities, a situation hardly benefiting anyone, let alone Russia.

Another point: Russia has trouble meeting domestic demand desperately needed to modernize the country. In a country of 120 mil and falling, Russia cannot afford to be a mono-commodity energy exporter. It needs foreign investment and a policy oriented to reducing exploding inequality.

All to say the knee-jerk view that Russia can bury "the west" via energy ransom is complicated by the social relations of global exploitation of fossil fuels.

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 24 2008 17:28 utc | 54


Your mistake is you pointed out an obvious error in b's occasionally self-assured, casuistic presentation of "facts."

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 24 2008 17:33 utc | 55



i thought you might have been involved here in the massive translation project on derrida - which i'bve heard people say there will be some 40 volumes(?/!)

& just wanted to say - that i feel often what must be a difficult tension for b - in opening/posing arguments - that he himself is honestly querelous - i think poster who have intimated privilefed positions - have just not been reading the text. b is very open. maybe sometimes too open. b is not an ideologue as slothrop would suggest, on the contrary there is enough openness in his questioning for us all to take our part

i am oppossed to banning in principal but ever since we have started here i have seen very profitable discussion, communication derailed by persons seeking to upset thay discussion, not by serious analysis but by 'noise' that neither enlightens or opens up the communication. sometimes these interventions seem to close it. so in that sense i fully understand the necessity of b having to ban people. & relatively, in aall the time we have been here - it has happened so rarely that i prefer to put my vote behind b's discernement

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24 2008 17:48 utc | 56

Apparently, b banned rbv because the "previous" outrage referred to was when rbv corrected b's false impression on the ways in which oil speculation is accounted for. Better not point out any errors on this blog.

And then I was banned for disabusing tangerine's claims that obl was never on the fbi mwl. Factually incorrect. And I provided a timeline of correspondences collected in the GWU 911 archive. But no matter. My source wasn't counterpunch. I was banned.

This blog has devolved into navel-gazing solipsism. No "evolving."

Posted by: slothrop | Aug 24 2008 18:01 utc | 57

devolve? nonsense.

alternative domestic gas supply

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 25 2008 2:55 utc | 59

as i see it, you've been banned because your lack of social skills, not because your lack of sources....
and you've been granted lots of publishing alter egos [agreeing with juannie's theory]... go ahead, dude, and keep digging your own hole...

Posted by: rudolf | Aug 25 2008 3:31 utc | 60

And in what possible way does a poster have to "earn the right" to offer a side-bet to anyone? (#13). Does anyone on earth have to "earn the right" to make a side-bet with anyone? And if so in this bar, does it mean that the bar has become a club of some kind--a gambling-club, for example? I certainly hope not!

Offering side-bets is not the issue and I'm surprised anyone would think it is.

wrt use of a reference such as "annie dear", "en-dear-ment" and "freshness" may look alike but they are not the same thing. One is earned while the latter is imposed. And this applies in every culture on the planet.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 25 2008 4:46 utc | 61

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