Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Russian hockey players going home

This is one of those signs-of-the-times stories that demonstrates how globalization and the growth of economies that are not traditionally considered "advanced" is opening opportunities for people that simply weren't available even a few years ago. Russians who have come to America to play in the National Hockey League are starting to return to Russia to help build professional leagues there. Some of them are past their best playing days and even they aren't making the kind of money they could make in the States. But they can still make the kind of money that puts them in the economic elite back home, and they're at home, which is something of a comfort level.

To be sure, the availability of enough money to attract people who have pulled down American money in professional sports has more to do with the high price of oil than with sensible economic policies, but for whatever the reason, the money is there. It's too bad all that oil wealth is bolstering Putin (though there doesn't seem to be much demand for real democracy in Russia) and there's the constant danger in a single-resource economy (though Russia isn't quite that) that it will bolster authoritarianism, as it has in almost every oil-rich country.


daveg said...

Do you think there was "real" democracy before Putin?

Do you think the Oligarchs were real capitalists or just a cleptocracy/mafia?

Did you see this latest on the Litvinenko case from Edward Epstein? He went to Russia to do some digging and got some interesting information.


NY Sun

Alan Bock said...

I guess it depends on what you mean by democracy. They had elections but they were rigged even when it wasn't necessary. And to me having a civil society, with most aspects of life not controlled by government is more important than elections, and Russia didn't come close to establishing that.

As for the oligarchs, of course they were kleptocrats who used state power rather than real capitalism to acquire their fortunes. Of course it had no real tradition of democracy in all its history, but Russia really blew what seemed like a promising oppoprtunity after the fall of communism.

I'll check out the Epstein piece and come back with comments.