02.09.2023 Author: Phil Butler

Rusty Tanks, Exchange Rate Hysteria, and Borrowing Like There’s No Tomorrow

Rusty Tanks, Exchange Rate Hysteria, and Borrowing Like There's No Tomorrow

U.K. tabloids have begun cranking out propaganda about Russia’s ruble “being crushed” this week by the stock markets. The “news” prompted this analyst to dig deeper into where the Russian people stand in 2023 economically.

With a significant conflict blazing on their border in war-torn Ukraine, the Russian people are enjoying an economy even better than in 2013, before the Euromaidan and tons of sanctions began being used to hurt the Putin administration and the people it represents. While it’s true the U.S. Dollar gained 0.15% on the ruble as of this morning, fluctuations in these and other currencies are common and often dramatic. For instance, the dollar lost 4.90% to the ruble in January. The Western media propagandists practice “cherry-picking” the most damning news and data of the day to accomplish their goals.

A better measure of Russia’s economic situation is gleaned by looking at indicators like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. As of late 2022 (after the special military operation), World Bank figures put this number at $15,348. This figure was almost as high as the 2013 GDP of $15,974. What’s more important is the slope of the curve in the World Bank graph here. It’s nearly complete vertical at a time the Western alliance was throwing everything they had against Russia economically. Currently, IMF figures put Russian GDP per capita at $14,400, about $1,000 lower than in 2022. Again, numbers like this can be deceiving.

Looking at Germany, nominal GDP per capita has been dramatically declining since 2021, when the government began feeling the effects of NATO’s undeclared war on Russia. By December 2022, German per capita GDP had fallen from an all-time high of over $51,000 the previous year to about $3,000 less per capita at just over $48,000. A much grimmer picture of GDP lost opportunity can be seen in the United States and the trillions spent because of the 9/11 wars. While no one has yet calculated Americans’ drop in “potential” per capita GDP, it seems fair to compare Russia, Germany, and the U.S. via a mixed situational vortex.

Let’s take Russia as the first example. The country run by Vladimir Putin’s administration was pushed into a warlike stance by the Western organizers of NATO. The Russians are firing actual missiles, losing real bullets, feeding real soldiers, and fighting economic blockades, which no nation has ever faced. The relatively slight fluctuations in Russia’s ruble and real GDP are not some indicators of a shattered economy. On the contrary. Compared to what is happening in Germany, Putin’s country is witnessing a boom.

The Germans, who sent some small billions worth of aid to Ukraine, have put more than 600 of their top businesses at risk at the whim of Washington. And the reason is not a few dozen rusty, obsolete main battle tanks sent to Ukraine. Germany’s debt and GDP problems are not happening because of a need to feed troops on the frontline. Sadly, almost all of Germany’s problems emanate from the American and British sabotaging gas pipelines and energy deliveries. We need to avoid getting into specifics. If the Germans tried to accomplish what the Russians were, no one there would have a job outside the military.

Now, if we look at the United States, the most indebted nation on the planet, plunges in dollar value since the 9/11 attacks have been propped up by borrowing a hundred of trillions from any person or government that would lend it. This Watson Institute “Costs of War” assessments show the tip of America’s warfare losses iceberg. One facet sticks out in my mind. Just the infrastructure costs Americans will have to pay for in the next thirty years make Russia’s ruble fluctuations seem like penny ante economic troubles.

“U.S. federal spending on the current wars would have led to at least 1.4 million more jobs had the money been invested instead in education, health care or green energy.”

For further clarification, there would have been 1.4 million jobs “more” than the 9/11 war economy created. The people of the U.S. are currently suffering inestimable damage because of the higher ratio of national debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) caused by financing our wars with debt. Interestingly, there is no indication that Mr. Putin’s operations in Ukraine are from bonds, back-channel money laundering, or oligarchs loaning their fearless leader truckloads of cash Russians will have to pay back. In fact, as of June 30, 2023, Russia’s debt was $347.7 billion, having decreased by $33.0 billion, or by 8.7%, since the end of 2022. In contrast, the American debt is almost $33 trillion and rising, which means every man, woman, and child in the country owes almost $100,000.

I’ve made the point. The fact that every new homeowner in America will pay higher interest rates throughout their loans because of America’s war folly should outweigh U.K. tabloid media harping about every downturn of the ruble. Think about what I just typed. Two-thirds of all discretionary spending by the U.S. federal government is due to post-9/11 military expenditures and Homeland Security costs.


Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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