The financial meltdown is having many victims, but no one is likely to shed many tears for Russia's oligarchs.
Russia's rich are experiencing a moment of historical catharsis. After a giddy decade characterised by the acquisition of yachts, football teams, villas in Kensington, west London and the South of France, and even submarines, there is a distinct sense that Russia is moving into a different, more chastened, epoch....
Asked how Russia's oligarchs are bearing up, [Oligarch Alexander] Lebedev is almost puckishly cheerful. He says: "They are suffering." He adds: "I think material wealth for them is a highly emotional and spiritual thing. They spend a lot of money on their own personal consumption."
Lebedev is a patron of the arts and last week met Tom Stoppard, John Malkovich, and Kevin Spacey to discuss a new Chekhov festival in Crimea, Ukraine. In general, he is scathing of oligarchs as a class - describing them as a bunch of uncultured ignoramuses. "They don't read books. They don't have time. They don't go to exhibitions. They think the only way to impress anyone is to buy a yacht," he observes.|Twilight of the oligarchs - Guardian|
While it's hard not to feel a bit of schadenfreude at the oligarch's woes, many people are losing their retirements in this country and there are bound to be lots of unemployed in the financial sector, not just the MBA's, but people at all economic levels.
The concentration of wealth in exotic securities and hedge funds is certainly a tragedy of the human imagination. Of all the things we could do with our wealth... and the rich just play games with it, chasing their own tail.
A new UN report indicates the global economic crisis will hit the world's poor the hardest.
Twenty million jobs will disappear by the end of next year as a result of the impact of the financial crisis on the global economy, a United Nations agency [the International Labour Organisation (ILO)]....So, if there are 6.7 billion people on Earth and 200 million are unemployed, that's roughly 1 person in 35, approximately 3% of the global population. That doesn't seem to bad too me. Of course, this says nothing about the quality of those jobs, or whether they pay starvation wages.
The ILO does not yet have a regional breakdown of projected job losses, which [ILO Director-General Juan Somavia] said would take global unemployment to 210 million in late 2009 from 190 million last year, the first time it has topped 200 million.
But countries with large domestic markets that do not depend heavily on exports would be able to weather the crisis better, he said, citing as an example China, where exports make up only 11 percent of the economy.
It was alarming that global unemployment had stayed at the same levels despite the strong economic growth seen between 2002 and 2007, said Somavia, who files to New York this week for talks with the heads of all U.N. agencies, chaired by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He said resources should be pumped into the economy to stave off or mitigate recession, concentrating on employment-intensive sectors including small enterprises. The financial sector should also be steered back to its fundamental function of lending to entrepreneurs, according to the Chilean lawyer and diplomat.
Somavia said the financial sector's share in the profits of U.S. companies had risen to 41 percent last year from 5 percent in 1980. As a result, banks preferred to invest in financial transactions rather than lending to other productive sectors.
"So this system began to siphon off resources from the real economy process," he said.|U.N. says crisis to cost 20 million jobs - Reuters|