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Speaking at Davos Wednesday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the crisis a "perfect storm" that "most" of the world failed to foresee. While saying he wouldn't get into the blame game, he also reminded the audience that U.S. speakers at the economic forum last year had lauded their country's economic stability. Then, in the second part of the speech, he warned against relying on the government to correct the market. Whether the speech was liberal and pro-market or conservative and anti-capitalist depended on what side of the Atlantic the observer was.
As the leader of a country that has been accused of excessive government meddling, Putin's warnings about such policies appeared particularly surprising - and the Russian media rushed to label his address as "liberal." Some analysts agreed. "He emphasized that it was necessary to use market mechanisms to solve what is essentially a market-based problem," Roland Nash, chief strategist at Renaissance Capital, told The Moscow News. "I think it was very much...a market-focused speech rather than a state focused speech. If you want to use neo-liberal as opposed to conservative, you can say that. It was focused on the private market, and I don't agree with the spin being put on it by the western press."
"Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent. The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation. In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated."