[Marxism] Russia's new super-rich

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 14 07:13:00 MDT 2004


Moscow overtakes New York as the billionaires' capital of the world
In February, there were 25 billionaires. Three months later there are 
36. With Communism dead, Russia's expanding elite leaves the west 
looking in need of lessons in capitalism, writes Andrew Osborn

The Independent, 14 May 2004

Male, 47, married with two children and a mistress, owns property in 
Moscow, London and the south of France, called Viktor or Boris, runs 
some kind of business exploiting natural resources, worth a cool $4bn 
(£2.3bn): that, according to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine 
published yesterday, is the typical profile of one of Russia's growing 
number of super-rich oligarchs.

And, saysForbes, which has just published the first rich list of 
Russians, the country that gave the world Communism almost 90 years ago 
is turning out millionaires and billionaires at a rate that makes the 
United Kingdom and the United States look like they are the states which 
need a lesson in capitalism.

In February, when Forbes last checked, Russia had 25 billionaires; three 
months later it has 36. Thirty-three of these 36 billionaires - Forbes's 
list includes Russia's 100 wealthiest business people, not all of whom 
are billionaires - live either in Moscow or claim to carry out their 
principal business activity there.

That, says the magazine, means that for the first time ever the capital 
of Russia has more billionaires than any other city on earth. "Money in 
Russia is not only concentrated in the hands of a small group of 
people," Forbes says. "But the majority of these people are associated 
with one town. No other city in the world can boast such a large number 
of billionaires, even New York, which serves as the base for 31 
billionaires."

Russia still has a long way to go to catch up with America and Germany 
in terms of sheer numbers of billionaires - the US boasts 227 and 
Germany 52 - but the rate of wealth creation is staggering, as is the 
concentration of riches. The combined wealth of Russia's 36 richest 
people is equal to a quarter of the country's entire gross domestic 
product (GDP), whereas in US the combined net worth of American 
billionaires is equal to just 6 per cent of the country's GDP. Indeed a 
massive 57 per cent of Russia's industrial base is supported by just 23 
companies.

The majority of Russia's super-rich (two-thirds) has accrued its wealth 
from exploiting the country's bountiful natural resources, such as oil, 
gas, timber and precious metals. These 66 people were able to snap up 
controlling interests in the vast nation's largest natural resources 
companies in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. 
However, many Russians now liken the legally grey fashion in which they 
did this to daylight robbery.

full: http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=521011
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