Three years ago, he escorted the editor of the Financial Times to the corridors of a newspaper Kremlin Even the room where he was going to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. The journalist, Lionel Barber, was in his last slap before leaving the head of the London newspaper that had opposed Brexit, opposed the rise of Donald Trump, represented the voice of liberal internationalism and lost many battles. where. Brexit is over, Trump won in 2016 and put it in On that day in 2019, Barber was entrusted with unforgettable words: The liberal idea has become obsolete. It conflicted with the interests of the vast majority of the population, the dictator said. put it in He extracted from his memory a Russian proverb to sum up what seemed to him tyrants outnumbered: He who does not take risks – he said – never drinks champagne.
That idea was in the air. The apparent competence of autocrats in guarantee Global growth and impact to their countries in contrast to the anti-establishment uprisings in America, Great Britain, France, Italy That questioned the reaction capacity of democracies. Not unlike the concept he coined Xi Jinping A year ago: East Rising, West Declining, said the Chinese leader who aspires to a third term – unprecedented since Mao’s era – as Party Secretary in the fall. The choices of the gods are incomprehensible Great dictators of this century without their conviction that they are on the right side of history. As Ruan Zongzi of Beijing’s Foreign Ministry says: Whoever represents future trends must become the driving force.
It wasn’t long after these statements were made, however they seem to be from a bygone era. Their authors are still in the palaces of power, but modern proven facts seem to have suddenly aged in the face of a much faster reality. And it does so on the battlefields of Ukraine. does it in Shanghai portparalyzed by the dictates of Shi trying to suppress Omicron variant of Covid. He does so in the bazaars of Istanbul, where the illusions of the omnipotence of another dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoganwas wiped out by the tsunami of inflation.
The past few days have provided economic data for the great autocrats that ruthlessly reflect their avoidable mistakes. In April, 45 Chinese cities, about half of the world’s second largest economy according to Gavekal Dragonomics, were stuck in various lockdowns ordered by Xi Jinping. Retail is down 11% in the month, auto production is down 41%, new construction projects are down 44% and even export growth is now less than a third of what it was a year ago. Separating hundreds of millions of workers and employees is costly. Xi will only have to instigate more debt on futile investments – bridges anywhere, skyscrapers empty forever – to bring growth goals. After all, the approach of the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party in the fall makes the despot nervous: if the ritual is completed while the Omicron rages there, perhaps the internal opposition to the Xi will raise its head. Everyone already knows what the Beijing strongman can’t say: Chinese vaccines are lagging behind, helpless against Omicron, so all that’s left is More blind suppression. But its devastating social effects also cost the resentment and credibility of autocrats.
After all, something similar is happening to Putin too, only the data already says. Of the 21 car manufacturing plants in Russia today, only one is operating normally – from the Chinese company Haval – while the others lack spare parts or foreign investors, and in April sales of new models collapsed 79% over the previous year. The Western sanctions They won’t be perfect, but they do harm and the economy will collapse three times more than the pandemic. Meanwhile, Turkey’s lira lost half its value against the dollar in nine months and inflation in April was close to 70% for a simple reason: Erdogan deluded himself that he could fire a series of central bankers who had been calling him the need to monetary tightening. He believed that if he could go alone now he would have to take responsibility for the chaos that followed.
Problems Xi, Putin and Erdogan They are naturally different from each other, but a submerged thread connects them: the three have accomplished disastrous choices for their economies, because they suffer from the blindness of those who are not subjected to the campaign of ideas other than their own. Because democracy may be in decline, but authoritarianism is not okay either.
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