Monday, February 24, 2014

Ukraine faces imminent economic collapse

Move over Greece; Europe has a new economic basket case and her name is Ukraine.

However bad things were three months ago, they are immeasurably worse today. After all, when half the population occupy themselves for weeks on end burning government buildings and throwing gasoline bombs at policemen, not much is being added to the GDP.

The news that minor league banker Stepan Kubiv has been appointed head of the Central Bank will do nothing to stem the melt-down. Kubiv's main qualification seems to be his experience as a "commandant" of the rioters rather than his banking experience. In other words, it's a great personal career move for Stepan but mere meaningless floundering by whoever is in charge.

Mark Ames makes some interesting observations in an article on view at Pandodaily. The fickle allegiances of Ukraine's political elites do not bode well for the emergence of a coherent consensus of any political orientation.

The current state of affairs means that the financial lifeline offered by Moscow will in all probability be rescinded, throwing the country into the arms of the IMF/World Bank/ECB cartel. If indeed the international institutions make available the $35 billions required for short-term stability you can bet such a deal will come with the usual neo-liberal prescription for "austerity" and selling off the commons.

By all accounts things are beyond austere for most Ukrainian workers and the middle class already. Layer a foreign-imposed dose of austerity on top of that and the gasoline bombs will soon be flying again.

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