Sale of the Century

Sale of the Century

Russia's Wild Ride From Communism to Capitalism

Book - 2000
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In the 1990s, all eyes turned to the momentous changes in Russia, as the world's largest country was transformed into the world's newest democracy. But the heroic images of Boris Yeltsin atop a tank in front of Moscow's White House soon turned to grim new realities: a currency in freefall and a war in Chechnya; on the street, flashy new money and a vicious Russian mafia contrasted with doctors and teachers not receiving salaries for months at a time. If this was what capitalism brought, many Russians wondered if they weren't better off under the communists. This new society did not just appear ready-made: it was created by a handful of powerful men who came to be known as the oligarchs and the young reformers. The oligarchs were fast-talking businessmen who laid claim to Russia's vast natural resources. The young reformers were an elite group of egghead economists who got to put their wild theories into action, with results that were sometimes inspiring, sometimes devastating. With unparalleled access and acute insight, Chrystia Freeland takes us behind the scenes and shows us how these two groups misused a historic opportunity to build a new Russia. Their achievements were considerable, but their mistakes will deform Russian society for generations to come. Along with a gripping account of the incredible events in Russia's corridors of power, Freeland gives us a vivid sense of the buzz and hustle of the new Russia, and inside stories of the businesses that have beaten the odds and become successful and profitable. She also exposes the conflicts and compromises that developed when red directors of old Soviet firms and factories yielded to -- or fought -- the radically new ways of doing business. She delves into the loophole economy, where anyone who knows how to manipulate the new rules can make a fast buck. Sale of the Century is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall economic thriller -- an astonishing and essential account of who really controls Russia's new frontier.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2000
ISBN: 9780385258692
Branch Call Number: 330/.947/086/Fre 359401 1
Characteristics: xiii, 370 p


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bgv69 Oct 01, 2015

This is an eye opener for the readers of the western world about the "spring revolution" and the after facts in Eastern World and especially in Russia (ex USSR). Working for Financial Times was the opportunity which allowed the author to be in the middle of the action and also gave her access to the cream of the new oligarchy. It was not the money but the people who were the key to the oil/gas/mineral resources and the "special treatments" of their companies (allowed to import without taxes, have monopoly on services etc...).

What is not mentioned in the book is the spread in society of the same practices, at a smaller scale: regional leaders who favoured relatives' companies for government contracts, rigged auctions for small enterprises, assets bought with no money, debt which was forgotten with a simple bought signature. The tragedy is the culture of theft and "street smartness" which mushroomed. How can you bring back a society from this debilitating trend, no shame in theft and no future for honest people (as one of the characters recognizes) ?

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