Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crumbling Bridges

The expansion of the US ABM shield into Europe, especially into Poland and the Czech Republic, will further shift the balance of security and power in the world over to the side of a single country, a single system of development. The United States is driving a wedge into the current relations between two systems of power in the world, which may be the easiest strategy to ensure the dominance of its system. The United States is pursuing its own national security interests, and it should be applauded for doing so; but its status as a global power and leader of a dominant system gives it responsibility for the security balance in the world as well. Global security and national security are not always intertwined, sometimes there are tradeoffs.

An existing definition of a superpower gives it three characteristics:
· Global economy. An economy with efficient multi-trillion dollar capital markets, which affects significantly the capital markets of other countries. An economy with extensive capacity for overcoming recessions and continuous expansions without hurting the combined wealth of its population.
· Full military self-sufficiency. In other words, the capacity to produce all types of weapons without any significant outside help (whether in terms of knowledge or material resources).
· Ability to impact almost any part of the world, whether economically, politically, militarily, socially; this may be for reasons of promoting a country’s own values, or for protecting national interests.

Despite the fact that today’s global powers are considered to be the US, UK, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Japan, the only country in the world which fully possesses the above characteristics is the United States. It is also apparent that the UK, Germany and France rely to different degrees on the United States for their military production needs, most obviously as a by-product of NATO. The UK, German, and French economies are very heavily intertwined with that of the US (although globalization is reducing the importance of this aspect). Some would debate the alignment of political views of the European countries with the US, but the views converge on most issues of national and global security in the long-run. Consequently, it seems evident that the US is the dominant country in the US/UK/France/Germany system.

The remaining countries are China, Russia, and Japan. Japan, while clearly not tied as strong to the US, as the European countries, is of a similar nature. However, its only strength is an independent global economy, which does not give it much leeway as a system on its own.

Russia and China, to various degrees, possess all of the three characteristics at a “discount” to the scale of the US (except for Russian military self-sufficiency, roughly on par with the US). Yet, these countries are undoubtedly not aligned with each other on their global outlooks; their national interests conflict each other more often than not. China and Russia have enough power and independence to be enlisted as two additional systems.

The ideological differences between the three systems are not as dominant as they were during the Cold War, but it is important to note them; each system’s ideological structure is a variation of capitalism. The US system, a form of progressive democratic capitalism; the Russian system a form of democratic capitalism with a large interest of a centralized government, and the Chinese system a form of capitalism controlled by a highly centralized government system.

The presence of three systems ensures a multi-polar world, with a significant dominance of one system. The realpolitik nature of the relationships amongst the systems makes the end goal complete dominance.

The actions of the US in the past 15 years thus seem perfectly obvious and justified, as the actions of a system trying to win full dominance. In an environment where full-scale military conflicts are impossible, the only way to beat a system is to contain it enough to continue reaping its resources, but preventing it from exerting influence upon your system.

The expansion of NATO to cover the entire Western border of Russia, the stirring up of ex-Soviet republics and support for their inclusion into the US system, are tools to prevent all Russia exporting its influence. The US system’s corporate expansion into Russia’s key assets (oil, gas, mining) and prevention of Russian corporate expansion into global downstream markets is the simultaneous reaping of resources and barrier set-up to prevent reciprocal influence. Of course, companies that attempt to expand into Russia’s key resources are not governmental companies, but the US system promotes indirectly an expansion of the US system’s economy into Russia, while promoting the barriers for Russian corporations in Europe. This has happened with Gazprom’s attempts to access the downstream market, Rosneft’s (Russian oil giant) failed attempt to get full-scale access to European capital markets. In return, Shell, BP, Exxon-Mobil, are all present in significant oil and gas projects on Russian territory.

It is self-explanatory why Russia promotes, almost openly, the expelling of foreign corporations from its strategic assets. It sees a threat to its national security. Tying these actions with an authoritarian regime is an attempt to shift blame; Russia’s actions if it were to ignore total foreign dominance of its key assets would be considered self-destructive and overly loyal to an indefinite country.

The primary reason why Mr. Khodorkovsky, hailed by many in 2004 as the champion of Russian democracy, is sitting in jail, is that he exerted political ambitions while simultaneously trying to sell the nation’s top oil firm (with a 20% stake in the total oil assets of Russia) to ExxonMobil. In response to warnings from the Kremlin, Mr. Khodorkovsky claimed that he was all-powerful. No government in the world likes to be spat on by a high-stakes businessman. The Kremlin was in a position where it was obliged to establish a majority (by no means complete) control over the nation’s strategic assets, if it wanted to have leeway over the economy, rather than be a subsidiary to Wall Street/London City. The United States behaved in the same way to the acquisition attempt by CNOOC (China) of Unocal (a mid-size oil exploration company).

Similarly, actions of an expanding NATO, under any pretext, are seen by Russia as a threat to its national security. Russia does not have many existing resources, apart from strong relations with several European countries, Middle East and Iran, as well as its expanding economy and self-sufficient military system. It attempts to hold on to its existing resources and build on them at all costs. The presence of US ABM shields in Europe served, as US generals claim, to locate and destroy only a few dozen rockets, will not be a threat to Russia within the next ten years. But, a shield against ten rockets can be expanded to 50, 100, and so on. Once the resource is there, no additional hurdles such as the need to gain global consent, or investments into infrastructure are required – simple expansion is easier and cheaper. Russia is concerned about what guarantees exist that the shield will not be anti-Russian in twenty years.

The US in 1999 guaranteed Russia that NATO would stop expanding, but the expansion continues. Russia feels it is being ignored, being given false promises, when NATO is expanding, and when new NATO members carry large-scale projects set to defend the US from multiple-nuclear-warhead attacks; attacks, which could currently come only from Russia and China.

It is of course unquestioned that the club of countries that could threaten the US with weapons is expanding with passing time. India and Pakistan, who each possess such weapons in the Kashmir “powder-keg” zone is a worry for the US especially. The relative weakness of the Pakistani regime, the closeness to a hotbed of terrorism in the face of Afghanistan, the ever-expanding Indian economy, every year becoming more and more tied with US businesses mean that a conflict in the region will deal a powerful blow to American interests in that region. Iran currently does not have such weapons, but will in the near future. The shield will indeed protect the interests of the US system in the world from the rogue states, and give it much more negotiating power on the global arena, but no guarantees are in place as to the possible redirection or expansion of this shield, nor can these guarantees be given to Russia.

Russia will most likely be unwilling to pursues such guarantees; it will do all it can to prevent as much as possible the ABM shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Another reason behind Russia’s attitude can be attributed to the fact that, over the past years, Russia has shut-down two radio-tracking bases, used in its defenses, in Cuba and Vietnam. The official reasoning was the inability to finance these two bases, whose cost was around $500 million annually; a reason which can be put into question, with Russia’s GDP having passed the $1 trillion mark, and simple government oil revenues hitting $200 billion. My assumption is that Russia was given certain guarantees, pushed to close down the bases. If this assumption stands, the expansion of the ABM shield (which includes radio-tracking bases) into Eastern Europe means Russia has given up too much, the promises made to it were false.

Many journalists and political analysts claim that Russia’s reaction to the establishment of the shield, gives Poland and the Czech Republic more reasons to ally with the US and create the ABM shields. First of all, this is an indirect affirmation of the ABM shield’s aim against Russia. Secondly, it is the US which is driving in the wedge between the two systems; the US is defending itself on a major scale, set to outpace the potential threat of an attack from a military superpower. The two systems are driven further apart.

Russia cannot continue agreeing with the expansion of the US system, if no guarantees will exist that the expansion will stop. Russia will most likely be forced to expand its own system at the expense of an alliance with the US. Neither the US system nor the Russian system will benefit from the greater wedge. It seems the US’s benefits from the implementation of the “sanitary cordon” around Russia will not outweigh the costs. The costs would be continued confrontation of the two systems, which would hamper the solution of the world’s global problems, expand the activities of unstable regimes, rogue states, which will pursue a double-game as they did during the Cold War.

Iran’s current double-game pursuit is the most obvious example. Neither Russia’s “all-clear” position, nor the US’s “restrict-all” approach is helpful, but as long as two positions remain, Iran remains in relative safety. Currently there is room for compromise, as the US system and Russia have a lot of mutually dependent issues that they could solve by compromising on Iran. But as time runs by, and relations continue to deteriorate, the compromising could stop. And Iran-s will pop-up all over the world like bamboo trees.

Bottom line: now is not too late to rethink the structure of inter-system relations. Neither system should dominate; each system has the responsibility to keep it that way.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cabinet Reshuffle - Rokirovochka!

I honestly miss the days when Boris Yeltsin, having come out of a "coma", would appear on national TV, and say something stupid; something in the context of his "rokirovochka" speech.

The current reshuffle in the Russian cabinet does not signify anything positive, nor does it signify much negative factors. I still believe, neither of the two candidates that seem to be aiming for presidency will become presidents. This rationale is not based on the inexperience of the candidates, Putin in 1999 had practically no experience in the "realpolitik" presidential-type jobs. Rather, that it is too soon. Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Ivanov appeared on the scene in the middle of 2006, less than two years before the elections. In today's Russia, a candidate can be promoted with the government's resources in weeks. Simply put, the people's trust in the president (not the government) is immense; that is the main resource.

However, there are many aspects that support the promotion of Mr. Ivanov as another step in his presidential campaign. Being a minister of defense in the current post-Munich speech environment (let's see if "post-Munich" sticks) hurts his reputation in the west and abroad. Military Russians are almost taboo in terms of their democratic potential in the eyes of the West. And the continuing embarrassing abuses, prostitution, and corruption in the army that is slowly disintegrating it since the 1990-s has also been disintegrating the reputation of Mr. Ivanov. He has not found solutions to the problem that have worked. The problem is tough, and probably cannot be solved in a few years, but praising Mr. Ivanov for his job as minister of defense is too early and unnecessary. Thus, alleviating him from defense priorities and promoting him into a civil-defense-economic sphere solves the reputation problems.

Mr. Ivanov and Mr. Medvedev will remain in the cabinet after 2008 as the main supporting factors. Mr. Ivanov will counterbalance his liberal colleague Mr. Medvedev. That is why they have been promoted to equal posts of 1st vice-premier with a loyal Mr. Fradkov (who will probably be replaced within the next year).

The presidential candidate will soon emerge (my prediction is Summer 2007); when another reshuffle will be made.

Мой результат "Теста от ульяновского губернатора"

98 из 116

Пройти тест на грамотность

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Putin Pushes Back - NYT

Below is an editorial by Thomas L. Friedman from the New York Times. The article objectively depicts the main reason for Putin's speech. It does not decipher the reasons behind every word of Putin's speech, that was not the intent of the speech in the first place. The article essentially restates in journalistic language (proper language) my comment from a couple of days back.

Foreign policy experts are still trying to parse Vladimir Putin’s weekend blast against America, which he described as a brutish country that “has overstepped its national borders, in every area.” But rather than asking what exactly motivated Mr. Putin to lash out at the U.S. in this way, the question we should be asking is: why do remarks like these play so well in Russia today?

I’ve just returned from Moscow and I can tell you what analysts there told me, what even Russian liberals reminded me of: NATO expansion. We need to stop kidding ourselves. After the end of the cold war and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, the Bush I and Clinton administrations decided to build a new security alliance — an expanded NATO — and told Russia it could not be a member.

And let’s not forget that the Russia we told to stay out in the cold was the Russia of Boris Yeltsin and his liberal reformist colleagues. They warned us at the time that this would undercut them. But the Clinton folks told us: “Don’t worry, Russia is weak; Yeltsin will swallow hard and accept NATO expansion. There will be no cost.”

So, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were invited to join NATO in 1997, and Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia followed in 2002. Lately, there has been talk of Ukraine and Georgia also joining.

I believe that one reason Mr. Putin, a former K.G.B. officer and cold warrior, was able to come to power after Mr. Yeltsin was partly due to the negative vibes of NATO expansion. We told Russia: Swallow your pride, it’s a new world. We get to have spheres of influence and you don’t — and ours will go right up to your front door.

But now that high oil and gas prices have made Russia powerful again — the gasman of Europe — Mr. Putin is shoving Russia’s resurgent pride right back in our face. In effect, he is saying to America: “Oh, you talkin’ to me? You thought you could tell me that the cold war was over and that NATO expansion was not directed at Russia — but we couldn’t be members anyway. Did you really think we were going to believe that? Well, now I’m talkin’ to you. Get out of my face.”

Mr. Putin was only slightly more diplomatic in his Munich remarks, where he said: “The process of NATO expansion has nothing to do with modernization of the alliance. We have the right to ask, ‘Against whom is this expansion directed?’ ” We all know the answer: it’s directed against Russia. O.K., fine, we were ready to enrage Russia to expand NATO, but what have we gotten out of it? The Czech Navy?

For those of us who opposed NATO expansion, the point was simple: there is no major geopolitical issue, especially one like Iran, that we can resolve without Russia’s help. So why not behave in a way that maximizes Russia’s willingness to work with us and strengthens its democrats, rather than expanding NATO to countries that can’t help us and are not threatened anymore by Russia, and whose democracies are better secured by joining the European Union?

I got an earful on this from Russians. “NATO expansion was not necessary,” Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the last liberal Duma members who is ready to openly criticize the Putin government, said to me: “In the current world, Russia is not a military danger for any neighbor. It was the wrong concept. You need another architecture.”

Aleksei Pushkov, who has a foreign policy news show on Russian TV, said: “NATO expansion was a message to Russia that you are on your own. Russians were unhappy. We said: ‘The cold war is over, so what is this? They are moving a military alliance toward Russia’s border.’

“At the time of NATO expansion, I was running around the world saying one thing: ‘Don’t do it, or, if you do, stop with the Baltic states because you are losing Russia,’ ” Mr. Pushkov added. “And the answer I got was fantastic: ‘What can Russia do? What measures can you take?’ I said, ‘We can’t take any measures. You are losing an ally. Because there is a deep tectonic shift in the Russian psyche that says, ‘These guys are about exploiting Russia’s weakness. They don’t want it as an ally, but as a junior partner that will be like a little dog doing whatever they say.’ ”

I’m not here to defend an iron-fisted autocrat like Mr. Putin. But history is prologue. The fact is, we helped to create a mood in Russia hospitable to a conservative cold warrior like Mr. Putin by forcing NATO on a liberal democrat like Mr. Yeltsin. It was a bad decision and one that keeps on giving. Just when we need to be getting Russia’s help, we’re getting its revenge.

Chrysler spin-off?

DaimlerChrysler has opened the door to a total or partial sale of its Detroit-based Chrysler unit, acknowledging the shortcomings of one of the most ambitious transatlantic business mergers. The German carmaker has hired JPMorgan to explore Chrysler’s future. “All options are on the table,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman. He declined to set a time frame for the review. A person familiar with the matter said the options included an outright sale, spinning off Chrysler to shareholders or continuing with the recent integration between the Detroit company and the Mercedes car group. The latter is the least preferred course of action.

Financial Times

Given the current economic situation, Chrysler is a perfect private equity target. It's cheap, it's about to restructure, and Ford and GM have recently been upgraded to "Buy" by several analysts. Sounds like a good deal to me. Very beneficial to Daimler, obviously. Analysts have waited long for it to begin spinning off stakes in EADS and Chrysler.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Where will Putin retire?

We all know Mr. Putin has promised to leave his post in 2008; and there is a 99.9% chance that he will indeed step down. The remaining uncertainty is always needed for such a turbulent country as Russia. The main question that political analysts are pondering, concerns Mr. Putin's job title after he steps down. A recent article in the FT (Bermuda to liquidate Russian companies) leads us on the probable path.

One of Putin's closest allies in the government, Leonid Reiman, the Minister of Telecommunications, has been involved in many corporate scandals over his tenure. Without going into each of those disputes/scandals (all the relevant information is located at compromat.ru, for those interested) Mr. Reiman is involved with the ownership of the assets of telecommunications giant Megafon, operating in Russia and the CIS. It is also highly probable that a proportion of these assets is owned by Lyudmila Putina. Judging by the overall situation in Russia, it is highly probable that Mrs. Putina has stakes in other assets (we will assume they are fully legal, as no evidence proving otherwise exists).

My point now; Mr. Putin will be financially healthy well after he retires, given the replacement is not as opposed as Mr. Putin once was to Mr. Yeltsin. Thus, the current Russian president will not have a need to be in charge or chair over Gazprom for financial purposes. It also seems illogical for him to chair Gazprom, no matter how powerful it may be. It is an instrument of Russian foreign policy, but not the main one. Nuclear weapons, the accelerating economy, gold reserves, are also highly powerful. Chairing Gazprom, Mr. Putin will maintain status as the default Minister of Energy of Russia. Well below in the ranks of political influence. Neither Mr. Medvedev (in the post of Chairman of Gazprom), nor Mr. Miller (Gazprom CEO) have in their posts much influence on foreign policy. Foreign policy is dictated by the President, his administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I do not see a Mr. Putin reporting to Mr. New-Russian president in 2008. It will just be darn weird. It makes more sense for Mr. Putin to just remain a very influential figure in Russia. Given, Russia becomes even more active in foreign relations, and crisis resolution, I can even see Mr. Putin using his communications skills as a consultant on foreign and internal Russian policy.

Москва потребовала от Вашингтона официальных разъяснений по поводу высказываний главы Пентагона Роберта Гейтса, который фактически причислил Россию к вероятным противникам США. Как заявили вчера Ъ в МИД РФ, высказывания американского министра там расценивают как недружественные и не намерены спускать это дело на тормозах. Вечером на ту же тему высказался и президент РФ Владимир Путин, который выразил негодование по поводу того, что в Вашингтоне используют "несуществующую российскую угрозу для выбивания денег из конгресса США".


По меньшей мере странными являются два факта. 1) Раздумывание над ответом четыре дня явно не украшает МИД. Но, возможно с заявлением не торопились, так как были осведомлены о грядущей речи Путина в Мюнхене, и не хотели лить масла в огонь до того. Или же, хотели избежать прямой эскалации конфликта, пока сообщение Гейтса плавало в СМИ. На сегодняшний день о нем забыли практически все, кто не особо следит за Российско-Американскими отношениями. И наконец 2) осуждение звучит явно некорректно после агрессивной речи Путина в Мюнхене, где Россия выступила фактически с теми же позициями, что и Гейтс в США, разница лишь в уровне выступавших. И здесь ответ России (МИДа) выглядит бесполезным. Последний год свидетельствует о явном охлаждении отношений. Конфликт идет по сценарию "все или ничего", и у России если она разумно ведет этот дипломатический бой должны быть запасные решения о стабильных отношениях с претендентами на пост президента в США в 2008. Длительную эскалацию отношений с США, Россия не потянет.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nato Expansion - a threat to Russia?

NATO expansion - a threat to Russia?

The US Defense Secretary claims that it is not. The US has often tied the democratic foundations of Eastern and Central European states with their entry into NATO; and has similarly presented this as a "no-threat" to Russia.

NATO is a military alliance, and military alliances have no reason to be tied up with democratic institutions; a democracy is the rule of the majority taking into account the views of the minority. There is nothing in this statement that concerns the necessity of a democratic state to be a part of NATO or any other military alliance. Being a part of the EU is undoubtedly a version of progressive democracy and economic cooperation. Being a part of NATO is not. NATO was created in the late 1940-s, and we all know the underlying reasons.

In 2007, the time is not ripe for military confrontation or cold-war scenario confrontation, but going back in history, the political and military conditions of the Eastern European states and those of Belarus an Ukraine have been the key determinants and measures of control over Russia. Germany did that in 1918 to the young Soviet State, and later in 1939. Roosevelt and Churchill are still highly criticized for giving up Eastern Europe to the Soviets (for oversight, not occupation).

If the states of Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Belarus become members of NATO, Russia will be limited in the scope of its economic and political influence on the heart of Europe (France, Germany, UK). It will be cut off from direct communication through the Eastern states and especially through Ukraine and Belarus, whose political past does not provide for a calm future. By influence, I mean the ability to promote its interests in the global economy and the decision-making in foreign policy.

NATO is establishing a cushion in the East, and it still exists in Europe to counter not the current might of Russia (nuclear weapons cannot be defended against), but the upcoming; the ability of Russia to force on certain countries its own goals, its own views on foreign policy. In 1999, Russia was promised that the aggressive expansion of NATO would stop; stop it did not. Ukraine will likely be in NATO by 2010-2015.

If Russia can prevent Ukraine from entering NATO, it will at least be able to maintain its own cushion (a backyard).

The role of NATO in the world has not changed, and it cannot change; it can only be dismantled to create a different institution with different goals. This will either happen when Russia will enter NATO, or when Eastern Europe shifts away from NATO. Neither of these will happen in the near future. NATO will continue to pursue expansion, despite the fact that it disintegrates itself.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Putin's Speech on World Affairs

Vladimir Putin threw down the gauntlet to the west in a confrontational speech on Saturday, attacking what he called “illegal” US unilateral military action and arguing it had made the world more dangerous.

In a speech that stunned most of the audience at an annual security conference held in Munich, Mr Putin also railed against US plans to build anti-missile defences in Europe, the expansion of Nato to include countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, and a host of other western policies.


“If you say that your ABM system is not directed at us, our missiles are not aimed at you,” he said.

Financial Times

One of the most powerful foreign relations speeches Putin has given. This is both a response to the aggressive gestures of the US administration in the past, and a green light for further confrontation

Полная версия от Кремлевской Пресс-Службы:


Friday, February 09, 2007

Putin heads out to the Middle East

AS RUSSIA'S president heads to the Middle East this week, the former KGB lieutenant-colonel may relish the fact that, here at least, his country is recouping some of its cold-war losses. Vladimir Putin's Russia is still less of a player than it was. It no longer has a network of Soviet client states. It does not baldly challenge Western interests by backing revolutionary forces and flexing its own military might. But Mr Putin has exploited the decline in American prestige, brought about by, among other things, the Iraqi morass and the poisonous issue of Israel and Palestine. So he may find it easier to reinsert Russia as a counterweight to the lone superpower.


What can I say. The Economist does not lie. But seriously; it feels good to be back in world affairs after the 1990-s collapse.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

LANSING, MI—In another devastating blow to the state's already fragile economy, the Unemployment Insurance Agency of the state of Michigan permanently shuttered its nine branch offices Monday, leaving more than 8,500 unemployment employees unemployed.

The Onion

I love The Onion!

Vegetarians - why?

So i don't get the whole point of people becoming vegetarian on the basis of "I can't eat the meat from animals that have been slaughtered in mass quantities". It doesn't cut it for me. It is in human nature to eat meat (that is how nature made us). If humans did not eat meat from the beginning, we would probably look very much different (more like some rabbits or something; maybe some people appreciate that i don't know). So humans can't eat meat because its cruel how it comes about in the first place. But the way meat is consumed is cruel by nature; tigers rip apart their prey (and that is very cruel, I must say; but it's life).

Some might say: "well we are not animals, our intellect has progressed far from the intellect of animals; so it is wrong to compare us with animals". I personally think we have not gone far from animals; just because we can lay on a couch all day and think about the meaning of life, does not superiorise our intellect in any way. Our intellect is ruining us in many ways. Animals are efficient, they serve a purpose; humans do not.

I am fine with being a human, and fine with the intellectual capabilities of humans eating them up slowly but surely, and I am fine with eating meat.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Кстати за зимние каникулы было прочитано несколько книг по моей любимой тематике:

Megargee - Hitler's High Command

Lukacs - June 41

Fall of Berlin (автора забыл)

вскоре надо бы по каждой проехаться, а то потом забуду о чем там. Впрочем на начало января мог перечислить все руковдство немецкого ген штаба и полит верхушки... Я извращенец какой-то; по мне история плачет просто.

Betting on Football

The Super Bowl indicator has been correct in 32 of the 40 games, giving it an accuracy rate of 80%.

A game-day factoid: There have been seven other years when two original NFL teams faced off in the Super Bowl. Six times, the market, as tracked by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, went up.

The Feminine Mystique

When women show more leg, some market seers say the market is destined to show you the money. Shorter skirts are fashion's way of saying that consumers are confident and ready to live it up, while dour ankle-length skirts reflect a dreary market outlook.

This year, female intuition predicts an advance for the Dow. "Hemlines are definitely up," says Elena Castaneda, president of New York Image Consultant.

Another good sign: Women are buying less lipstick.

Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estee Lauder Companies, gets the credit for connecting a spike in lipstick sales to a slump in the economy. Lipstick is a cheap pick-me-up for consumers when they are wary of more extravagant indulgences.

Lipstick sales rose after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and went still higher the following year as the bear market of 2000-to-2002 dragged on. But they've been trending downward ever since.

Wall Street Journal

Bottom line: few people outperform the market five years straight

Saturday, February 03, 2007

На любой ваш вопрос, дадим мы ответ,
У нас есть пулемет, а у вас его нет!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Убогий день. Не прошел по 15% барьеру всего-то на одну сотую! 3.37 а надо 3.38. Всецело моя вина.

Роясь среди гор хлама, нашел плакат Путина, купленный мною на Новом Арбате в МДК еще летом 2002 года, и провисевший у меня на стене года до 2005. Потом с переездами он переместился в папку для календаря.

В этом же месте лежал президентский пакет с гербом от путинских часов, подаренных бате. Эта находка чего-то значит наверное. Но вешать его на стену чего-то поздно уже.

И напоследок одна из моих самых любимых песен. Вообще на мой взгляд гимн России должен быть простой, и выражать самые важные черты Руси, России, и тд и тп. Такой гимн, который не недо менять по идеологическим параметрам, потому что он и так объединяет все поколения и взгляды.

1) Русское Поле (Яна Френкеля)

2) Конь - Любэ

Привожу стихи одной из них. Каждый раз берет за душу4 лучше всего в исполнении Ободзинского, чей чертов диск искал сегодня весь день...

Поле, русское поле…
Светит луна или падает снег -
Счастьем и болью связан с тобою,
Нет, не забыть тебя сердцу вовек.
Русское поле, русское поле…
Сколько дорог прошагать мне пришлось!
Ты - моя юность, ты - моя воля.
То, что сбылось, то, что в жизни сбылось!

Не сравнятся с тобой ни леса, ни моря.
Ты со мной, моё поле, студит ветер висок.
Здесь Отчизна моя, и скажу не тая:
"Здравствуй, русское поле,
Я твой тонкий колосок!"

Поле, русское поле…
Пусть я давно человек городской -
Запах полыни, вешние ливни
Вдруг обожгут меня прежней тоской.
Русское поле, русское поле…
Я, как и ты, ожиданьем живу -
Верю молчанью, как обещанью,
Пасмурным днём вижу я синеву!

Не сравнятся с тобой ни леса, ни моря.
Ты со мной, моё поле, студит ветер висок.
Здесь Отчизна моя, и скажу не тая:
"Здравствуй, русское поле,
Я твой тонкий колосок!"

Поле, русское поле…

Thursday, February 01, 2007

“Никто не собирается набрасываться на русских, — заявил в той же “Дейли телеграф” Дэниел Фрид. — Россия по-прежнему будет основным поставщиком Европы. Мы пытаемся убедить русских: когда мы говорим об открытых системах (доступных для всех трубопроводов. — “МК”), мы на самом деле имеем это в виду. И они смогут сделать на этом огромные деньги!”
Как это часто бывает в дипломатии, помощник Кондолизы Райс одновременно прав и не прав. “Добивать” Россию никто не собирается. И наши месторождения, и наши трубопроводы при нас же и останутся. Но Запад вполне может довести свои планы в области транспортировки углеводов до логического конца. Тогда с претензиями России на роль геополитического гиганта хотя бы в масштабе Евразии будет покончено. Из самостоятельного игрока мы превратимся в “ручного медведя”.
Кто-то может возразить, что у нас останутся ядерные ракеты. Но в XXI веке этот фактор уже не так важен. Ведь расширение ядерного клуба неизбежно.
Во всем этом, безусловно, есть несправедливость. “Крупнейшие запасы углеводов на Каспии были разведаны еще в советские времена. Но их планировалось разработать позже, сосредоточившись пока на Западной Сибири”, — напоминает Александр Гончаренко. Получается, что сейчас Запад и иже с ним в значительной степени пользуются “дарами” советской власти.


Одно из фундаментальных правил стратегии/планирования заключается в том, что в цепочке потребитель-транзитер/дистрибьютор-поставщик, каждое звено может быть доминирующим. Нашим стратегам почему-то это последние 15 лет в голову не приходило, и мы считали что де-факто превосходство в цепочке у поставщика, тк у него собственно и ресурс. А ресурс без потребителя не имеет цены.