Europe and Russia's Continental Rift

Russia's economy — until recently one of the fastest growing in Europe — is in dire straits. In the first three months of this year, output fell by 10% compared with a year earlier. The World Bank now expects the economy to contract by around 8% for 2009 as a whole. Traditional industries such as steel are hurting badly. The decade-long consumer boom has turned into a slump as unemployment soars. The government has cash to spend after years of sensible budget policies, but the central bank will be forced to keep interest rates high as long as inflation is stuck...

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