Well ... let's examine this for a moment. Gross domestic product, purchasing power parity, per capita for the G-8 nations:
- United States - $41,800 (2005 est.)
- Canada - $32,800
- Japan - $30,400
- Germany - $29,700
- United Kingdom - $30,900
- Italy - $28,300
- France - $29,900
- Russia -$10,700
The critical Russian reader will become indignant and exclaim that none of these other G-8 nations have the great oil resources of Russia. Why, Russia is a petroleum colossus (as I read on a native Russians blog last night)! It is an interesting assertion; however, the US remains the 7th largest producer of petroleum, and Canada has vast reserves, particularly when considering their oil sands. So these nations are not exactly slouches when it comes to natural resources. And yet, how does a complete and utter lack of oil reserves explain the great economic success of ... Italy ... Japan ... France? The answer is - of course - that oil reserves and oil production alone will not make a country wealthy.
Further - no country has ever achieved either great economic benefits for its people, or economic super-power status from oil. Consider the case of Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of oil in the world, with the largest proven oil reserves. GDP per capita? $12,900 ... barely more than Russia, despite over 50 years of oil production.
The facts are, Russia has tremendous opportunities for growth of their economy in the future. These opportunities are reflected in their stock market growth, and the continued growth of their economy. Oil production alone will NOT give Russian citizens more wealth and opportunities, or a more secure future. As the oil model around the world demonstrates, the wealthy few that are tied to oil production make out incredibly well. But without the manufacturing and service basis to go along with oil production, the depth of wealth is rather thin. Further, these manufacturing and service expansions can only occur with the appropriate infrastructure for growth. Shipping of products via highway, rail, and air ... high speed data communication being ubiquitous throughout the nation ... a reliable and fast postal service ... all of these things enable business to function efficiently and create and sustain job and wage growth. It is no coincidence that Moscow accounts for almost 10% of the Russian population (and growing) - and a disproportionate amount of the nations wealth - currently all of these resources are found almost only in Moscow.
I won't even discuss the potential for corruption in Russia to derail economic growth - suffice to say it is a problem that must be addressed in time.
The Russian future is bright and could eventually put it on equal economic footing with Western Europe, Japan, the US, and Canada. However, Russia has not arrived yet, and all of these Western nations clamouring for Russia's raw resources is NOT for Russia's benefit. Russia would do well to remember the mercantile capitalist model - and use their resources for growth of their own industry, rather than for China and Western Europe's ultimate benefit.