Dedollarization? Not so fast

The far-Left president of Brazil, Lula da Silva is in the headlines after a week ago he said the following:

Why can’t an institution like the BRICS bank have a currency to finance trade relations between Brazil and China, between Brazil and all the other BRICS countries? Who decided that the dollar was the (trade) currency after the end of gold parity?

After him, the president of Malaysia (who?!) uttered something similar and, from there on, the Cyrillic and idiograms-coughing shills started shilling. Tens of millions of words consisting of panic porn for Western audiences and hopium for ‘eastern’ audiences have already been written.

Both formats of shilling (which, by the way, is very profitable for moneyed interests) have cited some true facts – such as the dollar now representing 58% of the global reserves, down from 73% in 2001. Or the fact that the Biden administration’s fiscal policies suck.

Now, all of that is true, but does that mean dedollarization is actually happening? And if yes, at what pace? And, unless you’re a CCP shill, a Russophile or a moneyed entity (e.g. hedge fund), how is that likely to affect you?

Well, the answers are simple, but not easy: Dedollarization isn’t really happening; at the current pace (deemed “alarming” by panic porn) the yuan/renmibi will need 120 years (best case scenario!) to reach parity with America’s most profitable export. And, if you’re not a huge entity, it’s quite unlikely this will affect you in any relevant ways anytime soon (if over the age of 40 – at all in your lifetime, statistically speaking).

Graphs and numbers

“De-Dollarization Is Happening at a ‘Stunning’ Pace” – Headline from Bloomberg lol
Graph as of February 2023

Whatever your political opinion or preference concerning dollarization or dedollarization, one has to be mindful of reality.

(De)dollarization happens when enough players in the global market (both large and small) decide to trade or to no longer trade in Uncle Sam’s green notes.

While it is true that the share of dollars used for trade declined a bit in the last 12 months (as seen on the graph), that decline is mostly in favour of the Euro and the Japanese Yen, and not in favor of the renmibi/yuan, which is the only potential serious competitor (more on that further down).

This reality can be framed in propaganda terms as an inherent strength of the US dollar (which may very well be the case, though impossible to know just yet) but the more likely explanation is that the only entity that really started to use yuan/renmibi is the government of Russia. The entire economy of Russia was smaller than Italy’s before the escalation started in February 2022. Today, it’s smaller than that (though still unclear how much smaller). Of that whole pie, the government is a big player, but no more than half. The other half – the Russian people that is – continues to queue at banks for dollars and euros. And even most Russian state companies continue to hoard dollars a lot more than yuans.

So, in the end, the share of yuan/renmibi in the global trade shouldn’t have increased by much and, indeed, it did not.

Moreover, with all of the belt-and-road initiatives and other predatory loan schemes that the CCP has launched over the last decade, the share of yuan in the global debt is still to be rounded down to its nearest integer – specifically zero.

In other words, statistically nobody takes a loan in yuans. Not even Chinese semi-private otherwise huge entities such as China Construction Bank Corp. or Tencent Holdings. Even those prefer to take their loans in dollars.

Even Chinese companies who are in the business of financial predatory practices in Africa still denominate most of their stuff in US dollars, pound sterling or the local currency (which is routinely pegged with the euro or the US dollar).

Now, all of these entities could in theory decide to no longer do that. But they don’t. And won’t anytime soon because…

The CNY/RMB dual system

The vast majority of the people who write about this topic fail to mention this fundamental aspect: China has three currencies: The renmibi, the yuan and the digital yuan. Each with its own exchange rate, degree of convertibility, capital controls applied on it and a plethora of other issues.

If you have a $5 bill and you’re hungry, in more than 180 countries on Earth (including China, Russia, North Korea or Turkmenistan) you will eat something in exchange for the $5 bill. Someone will trust your $5 bill enough to give you something to eat in exchange for it. Does this hold true for the ¥50 bill? We all know the answer: and it’s a resounding NO.

The reason is not (necessarily) a geopolitical one. It’s not that most people on Earth hate China necessarily. After all, the same holds true with the Uzbek Sumy or the Zimbabwean Bond. Also, if geopolitical opinion or hate would play a role, then surely CCP and FSB officials wouldn’t be holding their own savings in US dollars.

Also read: Somali Shilling hits record 15 years high

The reason is much simpler: Convertibility. Uncle Sam’s greens are trustworthy enough to be convertible almost everywhere, almost all the time. And if you get a $50 bill in Russia and fly to Capetown, you know you can spend the $50 there too. And if you want to use it to buy American goods or services, that’ll do as well. Nobody cares you got the $50 bill in Russia. None of this holds true with the yuan.

The yuan (CNY) only exists internationally. You can use it to buy goods or services from places outside of Mainland China that also happen to accept CNY (which,… aren’t that many). If you fly to Beijing and want to use it, you first have to convert them into renmibi (RMB) which is the “people’s currency”. Depending on the amount, the degree to which the CCP despises you and your social credit score, this process may be denied to you. Imagine not being able to use your legally earned dollars in the US because you earned them in another country. This is the reality for holders of yuan.

And then there’s the digital yuan which is a form of CBDC with the worst negative aspects of it and none of the benefits. CBDCs should be convenient and easily convertible but the digital yuan is anything but.

Now, that’s not to say that the yuan couldn’t, in theory, in some future, replace the US dollar as the global currency. It could. But this yuan, as it stands now, won’t. For sure. And reforming this mess can’t be done in under 10 years and the necessary reforms won’t be made anytime soon anyway because Xi Jinping and the CCP show no interest in that (assuming they have the competence, which they might).

BRICS currency? Fun fact: NO

Beyond the yuan, there is no other potential competitor to the US dollar.

The yuan at least has the theoretical possibility of giving a shot because it comes from a large industrialized economy – but the internal dysfunctionalities of the Chinese economy are preventing this. In short: socialism is still bad for business.

In fact, given China’s size, it is indeed quite remarkable how low yuan’s share of trade financing is. As the world’s largest goods-trading nation, the CNY’s share should be bigger, but it’s not. Because internationalizing the currency is a complicated process which involves reforms that the CCP is either unable or unwilling to implement. For this reason alone (even disregarding all the other practical and financial reasons) the continued status of the dollar as a reserve currency is all but guaranteed.

The next competitor would be the Euro. But the Euro is the currency of a disparate group of 20 states with varying fiscal policies, debt, and equity markets that also suffered a significant sovereign debt crisis a little more than a decade ago. It’s the currency that tried to have inflation for years – and then got all of the wanted inflation all in one fell swoop in a single year, triggering a cost of living crisis that has still not resolved.

The chances of the Euro becoming the alternative for the US dollar in ways that matter globally are quite slim. But even if that were to happen, most €urozone countries are US allies so what you’d get would be DINO (Dedollarization In Name Only). In the end, roughly 84% of world trade is in US dollars and 6% is in Euros. And the Euro as a unified currency has been around for 24 years.

Now imagine a BRICS currency – which would be the currency of a disparate group of at least 5 states with varying fiscal policies, debt, equity markets and economic visions and models. Personally, I would love to see such an experiment attempted. The shitshow that the €uro is would look like an orderly and civilized currency compared to a BRICS currency. Though, upon further thought, such an experiment would deeply harm almost 2 billion people so… it’s better if this is not attempted.

One thing is certain though: a BRICS currency would not threaten the US dollar’s dominance basically ever. For roughly the same reasons the Euro can’t either.

B-b-but crypto?

One tool cited for advancing dedollarization are digital currencies – be them CBDCs or cryptocurrencies.

Well, just like with the Euro and the hypothetical BRICS currency – this is quite unlikely. CBDCs barely exist and are already encountering plenty of issues. For them to reach the level of trust of the people necessary to convince enough people and entities to switch to them from the US Dollar… that’s many decades down the road, if ever.

With crypto, things are even wilder. Bitcoin, barely used as a medium of exchange, saw its value in dollar terms collapse by 75% from late 2021 to late 2022 before bouncing back in April 2023. If you think enough people would be willing to denominate their real-world assets in electronic gobbledygook that varies so wildly that makes the Great Depression fluctuations look like a walk in the park… if you believe that, I have a nice beautiful bridge in Malmö for sale.

Cryptocurrencies have proven themselves to be a great speculative asset but… that’s about it. Cryptobros would argue that it’s a good store of value, but that’s a more complicated issue and quite far from the promises of the crypto evangelists (and yes, they unironically call themselves that).

But even if we grant that (at least some) cryptocurrencies are decent stores of value, that still doesn’t make any of them potential competitors for the US dollar anytime soon. When I’ll be able to take my satoshi and buy bread with it right now, then we can start that conversation.

I will also remind crypto-enthusiasts that El Salvador became known for its very tough, but highly effective, approach on law and order – not for its experiments with Bitcoin as a legal tender.

Nobody in El Salvador and nobody relevant outside El Salvador praises President Nayib Bukele for his crypto policy. But everyone is curious how the murder rate dropped by more than 50% in a single year and by more than 1300% in the last 7 years. THAT is interesting and a stunning accomplishment to study! Cryptocurrency marginal nerd stuff? Not so much.

To sum up

Dedollarization as a phenomenon is neither new nor something necessarily scary. In fact, Brazil in 2013 (also under the same far-Left corrupt leadership) signed an even bigger treaty with the CCP also with the intent to bring about dedollarization. Does anyone even remember that one? It’s certainly nowhere to be found on the graphs concerning global trade, so we can safely say it was all panic porn and/or good ol’ propaganda.

Other countries, such as Chile and Israel (in the 1990s) have adopted measures to reduce their direct exposure to the US Dollar in order to reduce market volatility and increase macroeconomic stability and investor confidence. The results were somewhat mixed if judged by the stated objectives but one thing is certain: None of them stopped trading in dollars. In fact, they both trade in dollars more today than before their “dedollarization” policies were implemented.

For all intends and purposes, the US dollar’s dominance is here to stay. This will change if and only if a freely traded and convertible alternative will appear and only if that alternative will gain enough confidence of enough people and entities and that alternative will be usable widely and easily for trade, reserves and finance. All of these conditions have to be met cumulatively.

That alternative might as well be the yuan. But might as well be the Indian ruppee (given that India’s economic growth is much more sustainable). But that’s way too much into the future and any prediction made now will only turn true by sheer luck. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Assuming things don’t get worse in CCP-land, the growth in Chinese trade will eventually lead to the yuan growing in importance – in the sense of going from 4%-ish now to… maybe 7 or 8, possibly outpacing the Euro. But the road to replace the US dollar is far longer and that assumes the US will always be under incompetent management as it is now.

Oh, and let’s not forget the real global currency – SDR (code XDR). Currently, the XDR basket consists of the following five currencies: U.S. dollar 43.38%, euro 29.31%, renminbi/yuan 12.28%, Japanese yen 7.59% and British pound sterling 7.44%. So, in other words, US-aligned interests hold 87.72%. I’d say the Empire is in good shape.

It took two world wars, multiple genocides, the slow-motion train-wreck of “decolonization” and quite a few other shocking financial events to finally dethrone the British pound sterling from its status as the main global currency. And, even now, it’s still relevant. Dethroning the dollar will be at least equally hard.

Governments and politicians (alongside their shills and some moneyed interests) will grumble, will whine, will complain, will grandstand, will throw a temper tantrum (see Putin) but, when push comes to shove, they will still be more likely than not to be using the US dollar as the global reserve currency for many, many years to come. Что делать? Нечего делать 🤷🏻‍♂️

Assisted suicide and the great Boomer removal

Last year my home country’s state media, Danmarks Radio, made a documentary about a man traveling to the lowlands in order to seek assisted suicide. The documentary was lambasted by its critics for its one sided depiction of assisted suicide as solely positive thing, and devoid of criticism on the subject – something not even its most ardent defenders could disagree with.

In the ensuing reemergence of the topic into popular discourse, I would often wrap up the long list of reasons why assisted suicide is abhorrent up in a joke that all it’d be good for would be to cut expenses on elderly care and rid us of those god damn boomers.

It quickly occurred to me, however, that this joke, might actually be much less unlikely that I initially thought.

Part One: The Cultural aspect

The first reason for this is cultural; the youth throughout the Western world have developed a deep, burning resentment of the boomers as most of the cultural, political and economic shifts that have made modernity unbearable can be aptly laid at the feet of their boomer parents.

From leftism, to the Stakhanovite work ethic, crendentialism, over-regulation of the economy, the opening up of the Western world to mass immigration and the outright refusal to pass on any wisdom or wealth to the newer generations, boomers have done much to make the youth hate them.

Something that is further fermented by the youth worship coming from the climate crowd which has claimed over and over that the old in their ignorance have ruined the planet and it is up to the youth – by agitating for the right grifts of course – to save it.

The result? A consensus among millenials and zoomers – though still not formulated in these terms, that they have been born and raised to essentially function as serfs for their parents’ generation.

The pandemic has simply been the cherry on top. Showcasing that the boomers (through the political class) would happily ruin their children’s mental health, destroy their chances of future economic prosperity and take from them what should have been the happiest days of their lives, all so they themselves can live 89 years and 2 months, instead of 88 years and ten months.

For a personal example there were plenty of articles from left-wing youth in my home country ranging from decrying the harm that sanitary fascism had caused them, to referring to boomers as ”greedy pigs” for throwing their children under the bus, to outright calling for a generational tax as payment for the lockdown.

And this is not to mention that the topic of outright removing the elderly has been brought up in an intellectual setting. As a Yale professor recently called for the Japanese elderly to commit mass suicide, as well as ”broaching the topic of mandatory euthanasia”.

For these reasons I doubt the understanding that assisted suicide will lead to the elderly euthanized against their will do much to dissuade the masses from its implementation.

If anything it’ll likely increase enthusiasm for the practice among some age groups.

Part Two: Economics

The other part of this is simple economics; The pension system was never intended as a simple means of care for the old, by design.

As most parts of the modern welfare state, the pensions were an invention of Prussia.

However, the stated goal of this system – a tax on the citizenry that’d go to provide for the elderly when they became too old to earn their own living, was never the intended goal of the Prussian state, as most Prussian citizens taxed for it would die before being able to enjoy the benefits of the system.

The actual goal of the pension taxes where simply that. Taxes to further finance Der Preußische Staat and fuel its war machine.

While most of the West no longer spends much of its budget on military, the pension system still serves its goal as a well propagandized tax.

It is here worth mentioning that the pensions paid to the State are not put in a personal savings account for the individual taxpayer, but treated as any other part of the state income. While the pension expenses are being paid out to those currently on pensions at any given time.

What is immediately striking about this system is how much it resembles a pyramid scheme.

In order for it to work there must at any given time be more people paying into the system than there are being propped up by it.

That will cease to be the case once the boomers hit retirement. Simply due to the shear size of their generation compared to the millenials and zoomers.

The resulting collapse of the pension system – as well as the exodus of such a huge part of the workforce, will likely be severe enough that it could crash national economies, should the state actually maintain the system.

As it is inevitable that the boomers will retire over the next ten or so years, governments will be pressed to deal with this issue under threat of financial collapse. And assisted suicide to slowly remove the excess retirees seems a simple solution. Especially as a centralized authority wouldn’t even need to enforce mass euthanasia.  The hospitals and retirement homes, doubly so in the public sector, will happily euthanize any patients exceeding their budgets on their own.

Especially as any type of workplace tasked with helping people who cannot fight back will inevitably become flooded with sociopaths in search of easy victims to play with.

Conclusions and predictions

There will at least be a strong attempt to implement assisted suicide across the western world.

Due to the economic nature of trying to alleviate pressure from a dysfunctional status quo, the most likely parties to implement it will, in my eyes at least, not be ones on the far left, but the corrupt, managerial corporatist parties of the center.

The countries most likely to implement it will be Germany, and Denmark. Germany due to its predominant managerial corporatist politics, rampant progressivism and deeply totalitarian culture and Denmark due to it’s heavily ingrained disdain for its elderly.

The rest of Scandinavia I am less sure about; Norway has the most totalitarian culture in Scandinavia, but also has enough oil reserves that it could afford a pension crash. Sweden is undergoing too many social changes as a result of not only mass immigration but also a resurgent right to make accurate predictions for.

The last of the likely candidates for implementing assisted suicide is Italy, as it has already seen a push for a referendum on the practice (although one that was shut down by the Constitutional Court), has an already geriatric population and is well known to follow whatever trends are declared on high from the European Union. Should Berlin follow Brussels in implementing the practice, Rome will be quick to follow as well.

One last, though less likely candidate would be the United Kingdom, due the increasingly authoritarian states in the archipelago that have already done much to imitate their former colonial subjects (Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with the US being a notable exception). My guess is that it would first be implemented in Scotland by the SNP, though it would still be probable that the Tory government force it through in England.

Assisted suicide will likely not gain 50+1% support, nor does it need it.

The topic merely needs to be high profile enough in the popular discourse that it gives an excuse for implementation.

Since most of the public either does not understand that the policy will lead to mass killings in the retirement homes or view it as a good thing there will not be a public outcry, let alone any actions that’d actually prevent the policy from being passed.

And the aforementioned radical minority in support of the practice, will make it easy to maintain for decades to come.

And in this regard I most sincerely hope that I am wrong.


A year of sanctions. How’s it going?

At the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, multiple countries (and not just Western ones) imposed various types of sanctions on the Russian economy. The imposition of the sanctions’ regime was relatively well executed but very poorly communicated to the public.

The public was told (or was given the impression) that the Russian economy would collapse within months because it’s the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed on a country. The latter part was absolutely correct, but the former was clearly not entirely honest.

As a result, the public’s trust in the sanctions regime was needlessly shaken due to the high expectations – leading some to lean on exaggeration in the other direction, so far as to believe Putin’s claims that the sanctions had little or no effect. That’s also wrong. So, how’s it going?

Withdrawal of major companies

For once, someone in Academia actually did something useful for the public. So the Chief Executive Leadership Institute from the Yale School of Management went into the enormous undertaking of actually tracking down all of the big non-Russian corporations with business in Russia to see if they actually do make any move as (so many of them) promised.

1586 companies ended up on Yale’s list which gets upgraded at least once a week (last update on February 26, 2023), graded from A (complete exit from Russia) to F (digging in).

The result? 521 companies fully exited Russia (grade A) and another 500 curtailed most or all operations (grade B). On the opposite end of the spectrum, 238 companies either continue as normal or are actively expanding in Russia (“digging in” – grade F).

This in itself is extraordinary. Over 2/3 success rate in fact beats the previous attempt at a global boycott, which happened against Apartheid South Africa 35 years ago.

With that said, there is still room for improvement. There are many companies from Austria, G*rmany, France, Italy, the USA or the United Kingdom that are on the “grade F” list.

Cloudflare, Buzzi Unicem (Italy), BT Group (UK) or Doka (Austria) are some of the Western companies that are still operating in Russia that can still be… persuaded into no longer doing so.


The automobile production in Russia took a nosedive by 67% – and that’s according to Rosstat (the official Russian Statistic Institute, hardly a trustworthy source). The Russian automobile plants churned out 450.000 cars in 2022, according to Kommersant. That’s less than Romania, whose plants churned out 507.000 cars in 2022, which is not a record for Romania. Keep in mind that of those ~450k cars produced in 2022, quite a few of them are Soviet-era Moskvich which we don’t even know if they work.

75% of car-related transactions in Russia are of used cars, mostly second or third-hand from Japan. The overall number of transactions and production are lower than the 2009 global financial crisis.

To make things worse, there are no chips for anything. Russian leadership hoped to replace what they can’t get from the West by buying from China. There’s just one problem: the Chinese-supplied chips have an enormous failure rate. 40% of the chips delivered to Russia are defective. Such a failure rate makes any sensible production planning impossible. And the goods that are produced with the non-defective ones, obviously, end up being more expensive.

Other industries are under all sorts of weird pressures. So, for instance, Russia can produce its own steel, right? Well, yes, but… some raw materials used to be sourced from Kazakhstan. But Kazakhstan is no longer willing to sell. So the Russian plants now have to source it from within Russia but from further away from the plants (geographically speaking).

Speaking of Kazakhstan, the country bounces between refusing to sell steel to Russia to selling enormous amounts at dumping prices – distorting the Russian market in unpredictable ways. This is reported by Kommersant, which can’t be suspected of a pro-sanctions or anti-Russia bias.


The Mayor of Moscow wrote in an official blogpost that things will get rough as hundreds of thousands of people are simply left with nothing to do in the city as everything relevant for them is closed or will be closed. That was in April 2022. Since then, the mayor has been subjected to a special persuasion operation to shut up about it. Even so… the numbers he presented were still real.

In response to multiple such situations (not just in Moscow) the government responded by trying really hard to absorb as many people as possible into various furlough schemes, fake or real government jobs or early retirement. Sure, over the short run, this eases the tension. But for how long can this be sustained? And who funds it? (more on that in a bit)

Nobody really knows how many people left Russia. According to research by The Bell, at least 512,000 people left Russia and did not come back (as of December 2022). This number is the most conservative estimate and most likely wrong, given that just Kazakhstan reported a bit over 200,000 border crossings one way (from Russia to Kazakhstan) without any returns.

Whatever number you choose to believe, one thing is certain: Almost all of the people that left are resourceful (and thus a lost tax base for the State).

This exodus (called “relocation” on Russian groups) strained the public resources of Georgia in particular but, eventually, slowly, things settled down on the host countries. Keep in mind that the exodus isn’t over. The industrial park in Tashkent (empty at my visit there in August 2022) is now full. With “relocated” Russians. After all, someone’s gotta fix the thermal energy distribution of the city, which is in dire straits, so why not fighting age Russian men?


In late August of 2022 I wrote an article about how unimportant is the official exchange rate of the Rouble given that it’s not a convertible currency. Since then, one thing has changed: Now nobody can exchange Roubles at anywhere near the “official” rate. Not even Raiffeisen Bank, which even went as far as to recognize Putin’s republics, can’t exchange Roubles at the official rate. Raiffeisen is now under an OFAC investigation in the USA. Insh’Allah they get sanctioned.

But, Raiffeisen notwithstanding, the fact remains that nobody buys Roubles. Which means the current “official” exchange rate is wholly artificial and meaningless.

And since nobody buys Roubles, that means nobody is buying Russian bonds either. So how is Putin financing the enormous deficits? Well… the foreign currency reserves. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the state consumed between 7 and 11 billion dollars worth of foreign currency per week. That sounds bad, but not so bad.

Just one problem: All of the statistics officers from both Rosstat and Банк России have been replaced at least three times since the onset of the war. Before the war, they used to be replaced every 6 years or so.


Here’s where things are a bit more complicated than both the West and Russia are willing to admit.

The EU countries “sold” the sanctions to their people as relatively easy to implement. The practice showed that it was a bit more complicated than previously thought. With that said, all things considered, things turned out quite okay. Europe didn’t freeze to death and, compared to other historical energy crises, countries of Europe fared better than expected.

Russia, on the other hand, “sold” to its people the message that Europe can’t decouple from Russia and that, if things really go south, there’s always India and China eager to buy in huge amounts as both countries are big consumers of fossil fuels.

Just one problem: Saying so is easier said than done.

It takes at least 6 years to build the necessary pipelines in order to deliver gas to China or India. So far, not a single centimeter of a new pipeline has been built. Translation: Russian isn’t selling excess gas to Asia. It can’t.

On oil, the logistics are easier, but India and China put a downward pressure on the price. Or, in common parlance, Russia is selling oil to India and China at a steep discount and routinely at a loss.

You see, extracting oil is not rocket science but it’s still a technologically complex process if you want to also be able to deliver it at a competitive price. And a year of sanctions and the departure of Western energy companies (and with them, their know-how) is taking its toll. Russia’s production price is now higher than the global norm. And continue to climb up as installations start to break down and fixing them is no longer that easy as it was in January 2022.

Ironically, it is in fact desirable that India and China continue to buy more and more oil from Russia at higher and higher discounts because, in doing so, it makes Russia lose money at an accelerated pace. And I have no doubt that’s exactly what’s going to continue to happen because China has no qualms in pillaging Russia for its natural resources.

What we don’t know

Russia stopped filing its paperwork with the IMF, the World Bank, the ITO and other institutions in July and hasn’t allowed the minimum scrutiny required ever since. In parallel, Russian ethnics within the IMF replaced the missing data with the reports from the Kremlin (unverified, even minimally, by anyone). This led to the IMF, World Bank et. al. to publish effectively Kremlin propaganda for months on end.

The situation has been discovered mostly by accident basically last week and hasn’t been corrected yet. So any report from IMF, World Bank, etc. on the GDP of Russia or any other economic data is, for the time being, untrustworthy.

Same goes for the Rosstat reports on some aspects of the economy (especially labor force and demographics) for the second half of the year 2022. the people working on them have been changed/reshuffled at least three times in the last 12 months. That’s a lot.

Even if we were to presume this was not done in order to get yes-men apparatchiks in place, that would twist the numbers to lie for the Kremlin – the mere disruption in the workflow is enough to render the reports for the second half of 2022 at least untrustworthy until further rectification. And there is no reason to assume any of that.

So when Putin says the Russian economy fell by 2.1% in 2022, there is no way to check whether that’s true. Same goes when a Western analyst says that it actually fell by X%. That guy doesn’t know that either. We have some reliable data (I presented some of it above) but we’re still missing quite a bit on other variables in order to make a semi-decent projection.

Some conclusions

So, do the sanctions work? If by “work” you mean the way they were sold to the public in March 2022, then the answer is no.

However, if by “work” one means “steadily and consistently eating away at the economical foundations of the modern part of the Russian economy” – then the answer is yes. Faster than I expected, quite honestly.

I had expected that inertia will take 15 months at the very least to catch up but, as it turns out, many aspects worked-out faster.

Imposing sanctions was a good idea, all in all. But it was a mistake to sell them to the public as a silver bullet against Russia, because such framing needlessly lowered the Western public’s trust in them and gave free talking points to Solovyov et. al. for no benefit.

Luckily, for all of us, the quality of Russian propaganda also took a nosedive lately. And visibly so for anyone who has been following this topic for more than three years. It could be because some of the people at RT and other places were in fact Ukrainian and are now refugees in Kazakhstan.

And while I’m glad that Russian propaganda took a nosedive, it is alarming that the West’s strategic communication is in such a terrible shape. Слава Богу we’re facing Russia of 2023 and not Russia of 2014 in the propaganda department.

Understanding the Danish society

Denmark is often held as some sort of Utopia by the Western world due to its welfare state and highly homogeneous culture. Much has been said about not just the positives, but also more recently, by the political right, the negatives of such a system. However, neither side has ever truly understood what the pros and cons of the Danish way are, nor what type of society would accept it in the first place.

The Danish way of thinking is, in many ways, self-contradicting and it is just as hard to wrap one’s head around it as it is with the Russian mindset. This would have been more apparent, were it not for the complete absence of conflict within the Danish state.

All societies have a more or less formal contract with their state, some founding principle that makes it legitimate in the eyes of the people: In the US this is the upholding of the Constitution; in China – to avoid a repeat of the starvation events under Mao and ensure everyone has food on the table. In Denmark, it is simply to preserve a state of comfort.

While the same is true of the rest of Scandinavia, the Danish mindset has evolved, for the most part, naturally, with little deliberation on the part of the state.

Danish culture has been in large part defined by the presence of the state, in ways that most free countries simply have not. The most apparent of which is family structure or, better said, the lack thereof as the individual is completely atomized.

The average Danish child will be placed into a kindergarten from the age of 3 – 4 years old with minimal interaction with their parents, as both of them typically are working full time to afford the bills that come with having the highest tax pressure in the world, and second worst purchase power parity in Europe.

Their middle aged parents do not fare much better, as divorce is frequent enough as to become ubiquitous. Here it is worth mentioning that Danish adolescents are among the first to move out of their parents’ home in Europe. While I do not see this as inherently negative, it does add to the overall state of disconnect within the family. This disentanglement is perversely mirrored in the usual treatment of the elderly in Denmark.

Children do not interact much with their parents after they move out, and the parents life is expected to go on as usual until they are too old to live on their own. At this point the overwhelming standard is to let your parents be institutionalized. This is so common to the point where any other arrangement is practically unheard of.

With the exception of the occasional visit, the parents are left completely out of sight and thus out of mind. It’s the polar opposite of Italy, where the child is expected to either move out at some point in their forties, or simply inherit the family home and take care of their parents until their death.

While abuse is not the absolute standard within retirement homes, it is frequently reported on. It is not unusual for horror stories of elderly, no longer capable of standing on their own and bedridden, to be neglected by social workers that simply don’t want to help them get to the bathroom, and instead leave them mired in their own fecal matter for several days.

Its not that anyone wants this abuse to continue per se, in fact the topic has had mainstream attention both in the media, among political parties, and in political satire for several decades now. The truth is quite simple, and quite depressing: No one cares.

This is not meant in the sense that people find the abuse mentioned above acceptable, they don’t. Instead no one really thinks about or wants to do anything to change things.

A far leftist and former friend of mine once said that the greatest boon of the welfare state was that it “liberated him from his own morality”. Thanks to it, he argued, there was no need to care about the homeless, the poor, his family, or anyone other than himself, because ”society will take care of it”.

While many Danes would feel repulsed by such a statement, there is a kernel of truth to it: The welfare state has in its own perverse way ”liberated” the individual from his morality and responsibility. This is at least in part what we are seeing with the disentanglement between families and the elderly.

Denmark is a deeply apathetic country, and the odd thing about this characteristic apathy, whether towards governmental overreach, abuse in the social sector or blatant corruption, is that there is barely any propaganda effort from the state itself involved. Rather there simply is a disinterest so ubiquitous as to become part of the background noise, as it permeates every part of the Danish worldview: both empathically, intellectually, and politically, in ways that often appear paradoxical.

The national self-image vexes between viewing ourselves as a small, irrelevant spot in the middle of Europe to extreme arrogance over our glorious welfare state, especially compared to those stupid Americans that are constantly shooting each other or going broke from their dysfunctional, obviously anti-human private healthcare system. Although self-contradictory at a glance, these two ideas can coexist in people’s heads at the same time without cognitive dissonance, as they are not two mutually exclusive ideas, but rather a single, logically coherent narrative that can produce diametrically opposed feelings depending on the context: This national narrative, referred to as “Lilliput Chauvinism” by the politician Uffe Østergaard, is best summarized as “we are small and irrelevant but our socially homogenous and deeply empathetic culture has resulted in the north – and in particular us, creating a much more humane, and happy society than the rest of the globe.”

Like how a faucet can produce either warm or cold water, depending on how you turn the knobs, the focal point of the narrative can be altered to hone in on either the inferiority aspect as a means to deflect criticism of flaws brought to the surface, or the superiority, to induce a delusional belief in the superiority of the Danish system – which therefore does not need to be altered, as there’s no need to change what is already as good as it gets.

Complementing this is the insular nature of Danish society. Not much is reported on or understood, or even paid attention to of our neighboring countries. There is some superfluous reporting on whatever happens in the United States, usually ripped straight from their legacy media, and sometimes Sweden (since the border with them is right next to our capital) but that’s about it. Rarely is anything ever reported about Norway, Germany or Britain. The cultural insularity of the nation solidifies it’s inferiority-superiority complex, since the country as a whole is simply not aware or interested in other ways of structuring a society.

For a personal example, a family movie I watched as a small child had a song in the intro credits with lyrics such as:

man er som man er det kan ikke laves om
man går rudnt og ser ud som maan gjorde da man kom
du kan drømme om at være en kineser I new yok
men man er som man er og det er godt nok.

En hest er en hest en kat er en kat
de er ligesåforskellige som dag og som nat…
og tyskere og svenskere er også en slags menesker
og rødhårede piger er kønne

You are as you it cannot be changed
one walks around and look as one did when you arrived
you can dream about beign a chinese in New York
But you are what you are and it’s good enough

A horse is a horse a cat is a cat
they’re as different as day and as night
and Germans and Swedes are people too I suppose
and read-haired girls are cute

The song is quite indicative of the mentality here. Danes are not devoid of humour, especially not when at the expense of our neighbours, due to historical beef turned banter (as is the case with practically all Old World countries). But there’s also this notion that what you are is pretty good, so there’s no need to do anything about it, or change, or improve. What you are is more or less “good enough”.

This is certainly not helped by the populace’s disinterest in seeking out knowledge or wisdom on their own.
It’s not that Danes are stupid, as the over representation among Nobel price winners for instance shows, but that their thinking is rigid. Knowledge is only gathered and created, and expertise only acquired within already established fields, such as the hard sciences, and outside them, is a dearth of intellectual curiosity. Appeal to experts is commonplace and expert opinion is paraded around by the media on a daily basis.

It is not without reason Denmark has not had a renowned thinker – neither globally, nor domestically, since Søren Kirkegaard. On a related note, Denmark has not created many cultural movements of its own for at minimum the last 100 years. More often than not, ideas are simply imported from abroad, as was the case with Lutheran Protestantism by the priest Hans Thausen or with the welfare state itself, originally imported from Bismarck’s Prussia, until it developed a life of its own here.

Much of this lack of interest can be traced back to the 1800s: Following the loss of Norway to Sweden during the Napoleonic wars, Denmark entered a cultural period known as Romantikken, or the romantic period. The core idea was that ”what was lost externally, must be won internally”. No longer was Denmark to pay attention to anything outside of it’s own borders, as it refused to look away from its rural landscapes through rose tinted glasses; effectively romanticising what was left of the country in an attempt to ignore the nation’s sorry state of affairs.

It is here we find the source of Danish Lilliput chauvinism, as both a coping and a defence mechanism against harsh reality, as it reminded us of our own inadequacy.

This can also be seen in the notion of the Janteloven, a set of laws unique to the fictional town of Jante, made as a satire of Scandinavia’s stigma against excellence:

Don’t believe you are anything
don’t believe you are as much as us
Don’t believe you are smarter than us
Don’t believe you are better than us
Don’t believe you know more than us
Don’t believe you are more than us
Don’t believe you amount to anything
Don’t laugh at us
Don’t believe anyone likes you
Don’t believe you can teach us anything

At no point has this order of affairs ever truly been disputed. While the central focus of the following era, the modern breakthrough, indeed was that the nation ought to cease its nostalgic ruminations and face cruel reality, the cruel reality in question was the suffering of the poor and the working class, underneath the classicist society. It was essentially proto-socialism. Created a century before Marx was even born and complete with deconstructive reinterpretations of established folklore to serve the anti-idealistic bend of the era. Added to these is a fear of going outside of the system.

Dissent is allowed, but only in predetermined ways by going through the system itself, never around it, and it is frowned upon to criticise individuals working in the bureaucracy as “just doing your job” is a commonplace and acceptable justification for state overreach. The result? A society unwilling to engage in the historical arena (with the blessing of its geography), uninterested in learning from others and dedicated to the alleviation of harm from its citizens, and one which has effectively produced an “end of history”-like scenario.

There are no conflicts here and with the exception of a brief almost bloodless invasion by – and immediate submission to – Nazi Germany in the 1940s, the notion that you need to defend what you hold dear, that there’s something it must be defended against, and whether it was even worth defending in the first place, is mute. In its place there’s a perpetual state of nothing ever happening.

It can be seen even in the language too: For instance, the standard response to being asked how are things going is “stille og roligt/quiet and calm”.
Another example is the word “hygge”. Which is often paraded around as the quintessential Danish word, as it has no direct translation. The approximate is a mix between “cozy” and “comfy”. That feeling of sitting and chilling with your friends and feeling pleasant while nothing is really happening.

I’m defining it because Danish does not typically make use of a direct word for “scary” or “horrifying” instead the most commonly used word is “uhygge”. It’s much like how Russian does not have a direct mainstream word for “safety” or “security” but instead uses “undanger” [безопасность].

As nothing is happening, and will never happen, conflict is viewed as unnecessary and abnormal if not to some extend unnatural, if it is ever placed in bigger doses than the occasional joke about the Nazis or drawing of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban here and there. The ability for, and conceptualization of, conflict taking place is not only absent on a national scale but on the individual level as well. No one is capable of starting conflicts and no one has the necessary mental reflexes to handle it.

This conflict avoidance leads to an odd form of moderation, where the victim of the state will always react to abuse by pleading. If the state overreaches, the reaction will always begin by admitting one is themselves guilty before stating that what’s happening is absurd. There won’t be any backlash, only a plead for a slightly thinner slice of the salami to be served this time around. This is arguably why the country has some of the highest anti depressant consumption in the world.

It is not that we batter our children into soulless drones, it’s that we don’t need to. Because the concept of conflict simply does not exist inside the little Danish world. As there’s simply no practical way of venting frustrations people simply give up trying or become bitter and resentful, as the shadow parts of the human mind are not being allowed to fully integrate. The populace may act nice but it is not good.

And if you dig deep enough down underneath that outer layer of niceness in a Dane’s psyche, you’ll find something you won’t like looking at.

On the November drought

Over the course of this past November, three countries were expected to see a wave of right wing success in their upcoming elections. Denmark, Brazil, and the United States, were embroiled in elections of great importance – not so much due to the next four years of government, but for the long term cultural trends they represent.

All three countries saw significant right wing success around 2016, followed by what is now a surprisingly successful pushback from their left wing status quo.

In America, this has been in the form of the disastrous last two years of the Biden administration as well as mediocre results for the right in the Midterms. Mediocre enough that Donald Trump’s future as the GOP’s main presidential candidate has been openly questioned.

In Brazil, a hostile state apparatus sought to quell the flames of support for Bolsonaro and the left has now successfully ousted him during this past election.

And in my home country of Denmark, our left-wing government had successfully taken on the mantle of populism to win the elections back in 2019, only to impose lockdowns and egregious breaches of the Constitution under the pandemic.

During the elections of this past November they not only managed to maintain an almost unchanged number of votes compared to 2019, the social liberal party that forced them to call an election over their continued breaches of the constitution and peoples trust have seen their voter base cut in half.

As a morbidly ironic cherry on top, several of the small villages of northern Jutland that relied heavily on mink farming voted overwhelmingly for the political party that destroyed their way of life.

Despite the large differences in the cultures of these three countries as well as how the reassertions have played out, the right-wingers in all three countries had developed very similar, but equally dangerous narratives on what should have happened;

These narratives all revolve around some form of revolution, wherein the capital P People have realized the tyrannical nature of the left and rise up, and through the Democratic Process push the country back towards Truth, Justice, and Liberty, and render us from corruption and progressive tyranny. It just so happens that it didn’t pan out that way.

The cause of this dissonance between right wing mythology and left wing reality however, is not to be found in some unknown source of leftist competence, or a successful propagandizing of the voters, but in the Right itself.
Specifically the populist savior mythos that the right has capitalized on since the campaign of Donald Trump in 2016.

Here, it is important to make a distinction between populist policies and populist savior mythos. Populist policies are merely whatever form of policies are written with the intent of appealing to the working man. Things like lowering immigration, or removing CRT propaganda from schools are contemporary forms of populist policies from the Right, while raising the minimum wage or giving more power to worker unions are examples of Leftist populist policies.

It should be noted that these policies do not need to actually be beneficial to the working classes, nor that being populist inherently means they’re harmful either. It is simply a label for any policy, good or bad that aims to appeal to the lower classes. The issue here, however is the mythos.

As it has resulted in the cult-like mentality that as long as the correct person is voted into power (Donald Trump being the best known example of this) victory is assured, as well as a distorted view of democracy.

The populist mythology was effective at the time, but was also simplistic and overly black and white. This is nothing new, it is in fact a historical norm for any successful narrative; the problem is that this time around there were no checks and balances within the Right that could mitigate the negative effects of the current party narrative.

This is usually done by having a well established elite that understands the shortcomings of the narrative, and knows which of the newer recruits to select for or filter out of the upper parts of the party hierarchy.
The checks and balances were not present this time around, however, and now the Right has a lot of people believing their own propaganda way too far up in the party.

The results of believing too much in the populist narrative in question have been overly naïve views on not just democracy but a genuine belief that there is a right side of history, that there will be a permanent victory over the forces of evil (the left), and that democracy unhindered and without interference will always move towards the side of the party that is on to the right side of history. At its core this is a surprisingly leftist and revolutionary way of thinking. Combined with a characteristically Protestant Christian form of moral prudence.

Since all actions are filtered through the lens of right vs wrong side of history, even the most benign attempt to persuade public opinion towards the right must be stomped out, with much more extreme prejudice than they’d display to even the most sadistically violent Antifa member, as long as it in any way is perceived as ”rude” or ”indecent” or a ”danger to Our Democracy”

What’s more, the criteria for what is ”immoral” is barely even dictated by anyone on their own side, but more often whatever far left propaganda manages to bubble up through the legacy media. In practice this means the Left can declare any rules of engagement they feel like, and no matter how ludicrous they are, no matter how obvious it is they themselves don’t take said rules seriously, the Right will enforce them upon their own and solely their own with unparalleled religious zeal.

It doesn’t matter that the Right themselves are aware that said propagandists are merely trying to manipulate them, nor does it matter what consequences following said propaganda will bring. As long as it touches their ideological blind spot of recoiling from anything and everything that is not pristine and principled, they will instinctively jump on the opportunity to throw as many spanners in the works of what any sane man would call their party fellows, until they have returned the Right to its state of ”principled conservatism on the side of democracy”. Which almost always is identical to a state of stagnant ineptitude.

Much of the Right’s current miserable situation is as a direct result of this segment. And as much as I hope dearly that at least some of these people will realize how wrong they were in following the ”will of the people”, now that the populace is kissing the hand of what they perceive as totalitarians on the wrong side of history, I honestly fear they’re too emotionally invested in their ideological framing for anything to convince them.

While it is impossible to have a political party without these people – just as it is impossible to be without any other form of narrative in an organization, too many of them have moved far too near the core of the organized right in far too many western countries. If the Right wants to regain its footing, it is to push it’s populist tendencies back out into the peripheries and ensure it’s core is more in tune with reality.

If the right instead chooses to preserve its delusional aspirations of sainthood it will experience the same filtering out and discarding at the hands of cruel nature as any other entities that proved unfit for their environment throughout life’s evolution on this earth.

Somali Shilling hits record 15 years high

One of the recurring themes thrown around by those questioning the efficacy of sanctions against the Russian Federation is the postulate that the Russian Rouble is at its all time high. The slightly more informed ones nuance things and say that the Rouble is at its 5-year high (which is also closer to the truth). Tucker Carlson claimed yesterday that the Rouble hit a 7-year high (timestamped link) but even that is also a debatable claim.

7 years ago $1 would buy 50 roubles. Today it buys 60 roubles. So on a 7 year trend, the rouble is in fact worth 20% less.

Russian Rouble to US Dollar 10 year exchange chart Source: (Xenon Laboratories Incorporated)

The evolution of the Rouble, their argument goes, shows not only the inefficacy of sanctions, but it also allegedly proves that it’s making Russia stronger. But is that true?

Now, there is a lot to discuss about the sanctions regime – and certainly some of the sanctions are outright useless or ill-conceived – but the point about the exchange rate is a non-sequitur. The answer to the point “the RUB is at an all-time/5-years/whatever-lengh-of-time high” is “So what?”. The nominal value of the exchange rate is only a minuscule part of the story and is rarely a relevant one.

Some comparisons

If the argument had been true – that a higher exchange rate means a stronger economy for that country – then that would necessarily imply for everyone to believe that Somalia is at its best economically over the last 17 years.

But is that the case? Well, not really. Somalia’s economy is mostly stagnating – and has been mostly stagnating for most of the last 20 years with a brief exception in 2014-15.

Data Source: World Bank
Image Source:

Of course, there are multiple explanations for this. The locust infestation, the floods, the inevitable imports of inflation and a few other local and regional crises that have hit Somalia over the last 5 years explain this phenomenon really well (in addition to the historical baggage that the country is carrying).

But if the exchange rate had been an important part of the story, then the economic situation in Somalia should’ve improved instead of worsening. But it didn’t because the exchange rate is a poor proxy for measuring the economic strength of a country – be it Russia or Somalia.

My argument stands even when looking at more developed and wealthier countries.

The Israeli New Shekel, for instance, has a higher exchange rate against the dollar today than it had in 2016. Yet the economic growth (and the corresponding level of prosperity) of Israel has, at best, a light correlation with the exchange rate. Heck, Israel had over the last 15 years some years in which it recorded economic growth yet a negative annual change for the same year.

If the story Tucker Carlson and others are telling had been true, and a good exchange rate and GDP growth meant increase in prosperity and economic strength of the country, then that would’ve been easily noticeable in most countries throughout the data at least over the last 20 years. But it’s not.

On capital controls

Capital control represents any measure taken by a government, central bank, or other regulatory body to limit the flow of foreign capital in and/or out of the domestic economy. These controls include taxes, tariffs, legislation, volume restrictions and a whole plethora of other measures.

Ever since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian Central Bank imposed quite a few capital control measures: it banned Russian companies from sending their funds overseas (measure somewhat softened in June), introduced a mandatory rule for export-oriented companies to sell as much as 80% of their forex revenues at home (later the threshold was lowered to 50% but the measure overall still stands) and made it very difficult for regular Russians to buy physical US dollars or Euros even at a loss (which led to the street exchange rate to skyrocket – something unseen since the old Soviet days). Most of these were adopted even before any Western-led economic sanctions had been adopted.

In practice, this means that a Russian citizen or resident cannot take advantage of this “good exchange rate” in any meaningful way. In other words: the Russian Rouble may be at its “best moment in X years”, as the story goes, but nobody can meaningfully confirm that in practice because it’s illegal and nearly impossible to do so.

Russia is not the first (nor the last) to find itself in such situation. Iceland for instance introduced similar capital control measures in 2008 to prevent capital flight and a total meltdown of its economy. Those measures were only lifted in 2017 with mixed results. Just like Russia, Iceland stayed out of the international financial markets for years as investors (rightfully) regarded the Icelandic banking sector and the krona as untrustworthy.

When the capital control measures were lifted, the krona had the highest exchange rate in years (just like the rouble has now), yet the country got much wealthier in the years that followed the lifting of capital controls even though that also led to a negative trend in the exchange rate.

This also makes sense intuitively. For most people in any country (except for some exporters) it is preferable for hard foreign currency (USD, EUR, etc.) to be cheaper rather than more expensive. This is even more important for people in countries where so many of the necessary goods are denominated in a foreign currency (usually USD or EUR) – which is a situation in which most of the world (Russia included) finds itself in.

Convertible currencies and other factors

To an extent, all currencies are subjected to capital controls and other restrictions. But some (a lot) less so than others.

Currencies subjected to the least amount of controls and restrictions are called convertible currencies because they can be easily bought or sold on the foreign exchange market with little to no restrictions. A convertible currency is a highly liquid instrument (and thus more desirable) than a currency that is tightly controlled by a central bank.

That’s why people allover the world hoard $100 bills a lot more than €500 notes (which the EU is trying to abolish) or the 1000 Emirati dirham bill. The US dollar, for all its faults, is convertible. Of course, this is a matter of trust and historic precedent. But people around the world trust the US dollar so much that the $100 bill routinely tops the charts as one of the best American exports.

World currencies are divided between convertible, partially convertible and non-convertible. The Swiss Franc, the Euro, the US Dollar, the British Pund Sterling, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish kroner, the Canadian dollar, Emirati Dirham and the Australian dollar are the most well-known convertible currencies. But on this small list there are a few lesser-known members such as the Kenyan Shilling, the Singaporean dollar, the Saudi Arabian Riyal or the South African Rand. In fact, in some countries of Africa (that are not South Africa) you may end up in a bit of a shock when the ATM may cough up South African Rands instead of the local currency. That is possible because the local banks and the people trust the Rand to be interchangeable and liquid all the time including and especially against the local currency (e.g. Namibian dollar).

The partially convertible currencies are those that are liquid enough to be changed in some places but not easily on the foreign exchange market. The Kyrgyz Som, the Polish Złoty, the Romanian Leu or the Turkish Lira are some examples of currencies in this category.

The non-convertible currencies are, really, the majority of the currencies in the world. Russian Rouble, Kazakh Tenge, Tunisian Dinar, Uzbek Sumy, the Ukrainian Hrivnya and so many others are in the category of currencies that if you’re caught holding, you’ll be in a very difficult position should you will try to exchange them into something else without physically going into the place/country where they are in circulation (and sometimes not even then – as it’s the case with Tunisia or Russia).

That’s why my 160,000 Uzbek so’m/sumy leftover from my visit there are nearly impossible to change outside Uzbekistan – because the so’m, in addition to being inflationary in ways the US dollar isn’t, is not even partially convertible. Not even banks in the neighboring countries accept them. People traveling from Uzbekistan to neighboring Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan carry US dollar $20 and $100 notes with them.

Of course, there are degrees here too. The non-convertible Kazakh Tenge is a bit “more convertible” than the Tunisian Dinar and they are both more convertible than the North Korean won. But the point is that non-convertible currencies are not only less liquid, but they’re also less reliable (since their regulation regime is more likely to change overnight or with little notice than convertible ones) and, most importantly, information about them is routinely less relevant.

The Russian Rouble, being non-convertible, coupled with the “temporary” capital controls is one of the currencies whose nominal exchange rate is even less corroborated with the real world.

This has happened to Russia in the past too. In the 1980s, the official rate was 1 Soviet rouble (SUR) for 1.35 US Dollars (or 74 копейки/kopeks for $1). The capital control regime was even tighter than now. Once those controls were lifted, in 1988, the exchange rate moved from 0.74SUR for a dollar to 100SUR in under four years. And that was the official rate. On the streets (the only free market) the Soviet Rouble would trade for as much as 500 roubles for a US Dollar.

The lesson here is this: The exchange rate’s importance in the story of the economy of a country varies by the status of the currency. The more convertible a currency is, the more important its exchange rate is. And the less convertible a currency is (as it’s the case with the Russian Rouble), the less important its exchange rate is.

We can (and indeed should) discuss the role of sanctions in the West’s response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine – but the value of the Russian Rouble as communicated by the Russian Central Bank is simply not an argument in this discussion.

We can (and indeed should) discuss the effect of sanctions (both on Russia and on the West itself) but touting the exchange rate of the Rouble does nothing to advance the argument in any direction. It merely distracts attention from more relevant aspects and, in the end, wastes everyone’s time.

Monkeypox – History with links

So… the President of the United States told you to be concerned about monkeypox. But not as concerned as for the Wuhan Cough. But still quite concerned.

While the Wuhan Virus was in some ways a bit different (though not really too different from the other respiratory pathogens we humans encountered in the recent past), the monkeypox is known for over 60 years. And, in fact, the corporate media has been stirring panic over it multiple times over the last 20 years or so.

But before we get to history, please take a quick look at the little document below:

So, the reason both the President of the USA and the skeptic/alternative media are talking about this is because someone’s been nasty in public with the monkeypox yet again (yes, this also happened in the past too). And it’s not just any random somebody – but exactly the Wuhan Virology Institute, you know, kinda sort of the source of the Wuhan Flu which is still being used by various countries (including and especially the People’s Republic of China) to suppress civil liberties.

Stunning. Wuhan Lab was Experimenting with Monkeypox Last Year – Published Research Report in International Journal in February

EXC: The Infamous Wuhan Lab Recently Assembled Monkeypox Strains Using Methods Flagged For Creating ‘Contagious Pathogens’.

History time

However, unlike the Wuhan Coronavirus, the monkeypox has decades of literature behind it and also multiple attempts by media or governments (assuming the two entities are separate) to turning it into a panic.

Remember the monkeypox panic of December 2019?

Or the monkeypox panic of 1997?

How about the monkeypox from 2018?

Or the monkeypox panic of 2017?

Or the panic from 2010?

Friendly reminder that monkeypox has been around for exactly 65 years already.

In fact, every year there are quite a few cases of monkeypox outside of the endemic area of Africa
Here’s a story from 2019 with a similar outbreak like the one in 2022:

Here’s a 2017 story from WashPo on how monkeypox has been studied: [tl;dr: places in the middle of fucking nowhere, accessible only by UN boats and where electricity doesn’t exist.]

2010 story from National Geographic about the connection between ending the smallpox vaccination programme and monkeypox:

Very serious outbreak of monkeypox occurred in the USA in 2003. Here’s a 2004 study about it:

Nigeria has routine monkeypox outbreaks. There’s even Interim National Guidelines released once-a-decade on how to respond to outbreaks. Here’s the most recent one available [2017]:

Occasionally the disease spills over in countries around Nigeria.
For instance in 2018, Liberia was hit quite harshly:

It will not be the first time humans are being stupid in public over monkeypox.
For instance in 2012 the CDC/US Feds quarantined a Delta flight over fears of monkeypox.

It was… bed bugs.

Here’s a 2010 story about monkeypox in Zaire/DR Congo and why the disease didn’t just die off as the eXpErTs had expected:

Just yesterday, in Romania, a doctor that has been making waves over his “warnings” of monkeypox allegedly found at his hospital… had to be taken to the loony bin after he beat up a patient and two nurses, and then tried to drive a garbage truck. You see… viral panics attract the looniest members of society.

Well, similar things happened in Britain in 2018. Most of the tabloid press and other media took it upon themselves to warn the public about the looming danger(s) of the monkeypox. Rumours of “hundreds” of “cases” spread like wildfire (and, just like with Covid or with monkeypox today, no clear definition of what a “case” means was offered). In reality, there had been exactly… two cases. Both discussed at length in this paper: (please notice the quality and the precision of clinical data – the opposite of what was and still is the case with Covid19)

Soon after, the British press mostly deleted their panicard BS. In 2019, here’s how the issue was being framed:

Here’s a 2016 story of the very serious monkeypox outbreak in DR Congo:

BS stories about monkeypox aren’t a new phenomenon at all. Nor an exclusive purview of the West.

Here’s the health minister in Malaysia in 2019, exasperated by the media’s exaggerations of the monkeypox (which at the time hadn’t even been detected in his country):

The United States suffered through an outbreak of monkeypox 19 years ago, in the year 2003. Here’s how the CDC was describing the situation in the middle of the outbreak:

As of July 8, 2003, a total of 71 cases of monkeypox have been reported to CDC from Wisconsin (39), Indiana (16), Illinois (12), Missouri (two), Kansas (one), and Ohio (one); these include 35 (49%) cases laboratory-confirmed at CDC and 36 (51%) suspect and probable cases under investigation by state and local health departments

Here’s how the 2003 outbreak was described in a paper from 2006 (remember that any outbreak is better analyzed at its end, rather than in the middle of it – because cooler heads can prevail and emotion/panic doesn’t run as high):

In May and June 2003, public health officials identified an outbreak of human monkeypox in the United States. This was the first instance of human monkeypox virus (MPXV) infection detected outside its endemic range in Africa. As of July 30, 2003, a total of 72 human cases had been reported. Thirty-seven (51%) cases were eventually laboratory confirmed, and 35 met the case definition set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among the 35 patients whose cases were laboratory confirmed before July 11, 2003, 32 (91%) tested positive for MPXV by PCR, culture, immunohistochemical testing, or electron microscopy of skin lesions; 2 tested positive by PCR and/or culture of an oropharyngeal or nasopharyngeal swab; and 1 tested positive by PCR and culture of a lymph node aspirate. To date, no new animal or human cases have been reported.

The outbreak was relatively large compared with most reported events in Africa, but clinical features were milder than typically seen there. No human deaths occurred, although 2 children required intensive care. One patient received a corneal transplant due to chronic ocular infection.

Paper from 2006:

Please notice that PCR tests were a thing then too. Though, unlike 2020/21/22, they weren’t used randomly on the general population – which allowed for a much more precise use. And even so, the PCR test was still rather useless as a diagnostic tool. Back in those days, diseases were counted by clinical diagnosis. The good ol’ days…

Anyway, “your pets are a danger” is also not a new narrative.

Here’s a cached document by New York Health authorities from almost 20 years ago where the potential connections between pets and monkeypox are laid out:

REEEEEE be afraid!
Here’s sCiEnTiSts and eXpErTs peddling panicard BS 14 years ago about monkeypox:

There was a time when the mainstream Left was equally skeptical of the public health establishment and Big Pharma as the Right.
Here’s an article about monkeypox in The Guardian from 2003: -> Notice that the possibility of it spreading wildly through humans is treated with a shrug, precisely because the disease itself is pretty mild (and infection-acquired immunity is lifelong and sterilizing, by the way).

Experiments on and with monkeypox in aerosolized form (in theory more transmissible – tho not necessarily in practice) aren’t new either.
Here’s a paper from 2001 discussing such an experiment:

Here’s some more panicard sCiEnCe from 2010, funded by NIAD (read: Anthony Faucci) –

And, finally, here’s a review of both experimental and natural infections of animals with monkeypox from 1958 to 2012:


So… does all of this mean that this time ’round there won’t be a general(ized) panic about the monkeypox even though it’s the third or fourth semi-serious transnational outbreak just this century? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

“People are not stupid, people are fucking stupid” – is a reality that the powers that be know all too well. Additionally, unlike 2001, 2003, 2010 and 2019, people are significantly stupider today. Or, at the very least, the stupidity of the general public is far more evident today than it was at the turn of the century. With this fact in mind, do expect authorities in at least some countries to be supremely stupid in public.

Remember that in 2009, a few countries did go into lockdown over a very mild flu. And highly advanced countries at some point in time were very proud of spreading DDT everywhere in order to fight child paralysis. In fact, they were proud of it:

The point that I’m making is that the ability and willingness of the Trust the Science™ crowd to endorse policies that amount to being supremely stupid in public is not a new phenomenon. It did not start with Covid19 and there is no reason for it not to be manifested during this outbreak of monkeypox.

The purpose of this article is to equip you with the knowledge that this movie has been seen before. Monkeypox experiments (including dubious lab experiments), media panic over it, dubious policies meant to “protect” but in fact did only harm, dubious NPIs being deployed, very fake news spreading like wildfire… all of those happened multiple times just in the last 20 years. And the world didn’t end under a pile of monkeypox rashes. It won’t this time either.

Also, it is true that the smallpox vaccine protects (because, unlike the myocarditis-inducing experimental gene therapy clotshots of 2020, it actually is a vaccine). It is also true that infection-acquired immunity is lifelong and sterilizing.

Also, while it makes for good memes, monkeypox is not like HIV (Gay-related immune deficiency – GRID) in the sense that it’s not an STD per se. It’s still funny though to watch/read concocted double speak like “individuals who self-identify as gay or bi-sexual as well as other communities of men who have sex with other men” – because, you see, “homosexuals” is just not hip enough anymore.

That’s it for now. Don’t panic. Grab popcorn. And enjoy the shitshow.

The biolabs blunder

During times of crisis (any crisis – be it war, pandemics, accidents, PR mess, politico-sexual scandals, you name it) the first thing you need to do is to get ahead of the story. Get your version of the story as fast as possible before the enemy gets to deploy a spin on it.

Since Putin rolled in the tanks in Ukraine, the West has done a decent enough job at staying ahead of the story. As cynical as this may sound to some ears, the informational (read: propaganda) aspect of the war is routinely more important or at least equally important to the operational aspect. In other words: the actual victory on the field may not matter at all if you lose the propaganda dispute. The Vietnam War is a prime example on how you can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory because the propaganda was neglected.

Up until about 7 days ago the main lines of attack by the Russian propaganda fell flat outright. Those lines being:

  • muh Azov battalion
  • muh oppression of Russians by the Ukrainians
  • muh Nazis
  • muh denazification of the Jewish-led Ukrainian government 🤡

Nobody seriously believed any of these. And the first two elements have been pushed by various agents of Russian disinformation for 8 years now. And they convinced roughly nobody. Which goes to show that even Russian propagandists aren’t what they used to be. Basic rules of propaganda say that you have to withdraw a talking point after a while, especially if it’s clearly unsuccessful.

Muh biolabs

But then the russkies came up with a (not exactly) new talking point: The existence of US-assisted biolabs in Ukraine.

Even this talking point isn’t particularly new. Here’s for instance Russian state agency TASS discussing this talking point in April 2020. Here is the Chinese official propaganda tabloid amplifying this in April 2021. Here is Russian state media Rossya24 discussing this in 2018 – except at that time they were also alleging a similar thing about Georgia as well because, hey, the Russian invasion in Georgia had to be justified somehow. In fact, the “biolabs in Georgia” claim was used again in May 2020 in conjunction with the Wuhan Flu panic (and they added Kazakhstan into the mix too for extra credibility).

The point being this: “Muh biolabs” is not a new line of attack by Russian disinformation. It’s been around for at least 4 years and it’s not related to either the war in Ukraine or the CCP virus pandemic.

Why did it work this time ’round?

Having established that none of this is exactly new, it is still clear that this time around the line of attack worked much better than in the previous attempts. The reasons are simple: the West not only has stupider people in its leadership, but also significantly more corrupt people.

In 2018 and 2020, this line of attack was not ignored and countered immediately with on-site interviews, transparent footage and re-publishing of the relevant treaties.

This time ’round, however, the Western establishment chose the worst possible approach – namely to deny the very existence of these labs and call everyone who disagrees a Putinist. Congratulations Western establishment! The real Putinists and their friends are grateful!

Those who wish to promote this talking point (either on behalf of Russia or simply because they despise the current Western establishment) now have all the weapons they need to spin as many conspiracy theories as they please using “the customer’s material” – namely official Western sources.

Leaving aside the fog around Victoria “fuck the EU” Nulland’s speech, the existence of these labs has been public information since at least 2005 when a relevant treaty was signed. Prior to the signing of the treaty, two US Senators – Republican Richard Lugar and Democrat Barack Hussein Obama (remember him?) alongside a team of CDC and other pharma people inspected the sites. And Russia knew about it. In fact, the Russian government (Putin’s government!) officially apologized in 2005 for pulling some shenanigans arouns Lugar and Obama’s plane. None of this is (or ever was) secret. The fricking Chicago Tribune wrote about it for crying out loud!

With these undeniable facts on the table, anyone can concoct any conspiracy theory he or she wants. Sure, most would be implausible for those who haven’t heard about Ukraine this morning. But most people – including most of those who now do performative #StandWithUkraine support on social media – have quite literally heard about Ukraine this morning. That crop of people is easily subvertible and dissuadable by a well-written story starting from the facts laid out even by the establishment’s tools such as Politifact.

And let us not forget the backdrop of all of this: Both Western societies and Russian society are just coming out of a pandemic that was rife with disinformation including, and especially, from the public health establishments and governments. That means both the Russian public and the Western public is primed to believing any story pertaining to the dangers of lab-leaked pathogens – in part because the public has already seen this movie before.

Friendly reminder: The establishment was very quick to deny that the CCP Virus got leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, even though that distinct possibility wasn’t refuted even partially to this day.

So, from a propaganda perspective, thanks to Western incompetence and, yes, corruption, this old line of attack by Russia’s disinformation machine has gotten new and improved teeth.

What does this mean and what can be done?

So for the next several weeks, expect a lot more stories carefully planted in as many newspapers as possible and carefully written in such a way as to keep you in both fear and doubt.

The purpose of this line of attack isn’t to reveal Western corruption (few people even care about that to begin with – Russians included). Nor is it to distract your attention from the mass murder that Russia is committing in Ukraine – even though it may seem like that.

The purpose of this line of attack is to stoke new fears into a [Western and Russian] public already stressed by pandemic fatigue and to make the Western public doubt the USA. The occupant is relying on the fact that the public is already aware of the mountains of lies perpetrated by the so-called “public health” establishment during the pandemic. Of course, nobody will tell you that the Russian “public health” establishment was just as HONK if not even more so as the Canadian, German or Italian one.

What you can do – in addition to always telling the truth – is to recognize that you don’t have to suck Putin’s dick in order to own the libs.

The DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) is real and it assists laboratories in Ukraine. This is neither a nothingburger nor a catastrophe. Since this is a war, completely trusting an interested source right now is detrimental. Which is why I only presented documents that predate this war. And that’s also what you should do as well if you want to do something.

There will be new “revelations” – must of them bullshit, some of them true. Sifting through them will be a challenge. Just make sure you don’t keep a mind so open that your brains fall over.

With that said, though, we should recognize that this is the first serious blunder of the West on the propaganda front. And it’s a costly blunder. Oh well… 🤷🏻‍♂️

Keep calm and Slava Ukrayini!

The danger of ignorance in regards to China

I was inspired to write this article after a discussion on Telegram regarding some techno-optimist Romanian Youtuber who was apparently anti-China; in fact people from the conversation maintained the idea that this guy was more anti-China than my Sofa associate, Lucian, the one publicly acclaimed by a Romanian boomer “God from the Sofa”.  Jokes aside, this is true in the same way that, in the first Star Wars episode, when Obi-Wan and Anakin were in the ocean and attacked by colossal fish – there’s bigger fish out there.

Well, that is me; the one who, if I had a fleet on my hands, I would have blockaded all Chinese access to the Pacific with zero remorse.

Why such a radical statement?

The answer is both simple and complicated; the short answer would be that humanity as a whole has regressed irreversibly due to the addiction based on the world’s cheapo workshop, China; a sample of the consequences of globalisation, as well as the disproportionate addiction to a single industrial power that we observe now and for many years to come is when the entire planet was shoved into the chicken coop in 2020 and a few countries even in 2021; suddenly the logistical model of Just In Time deliveries went у пизду and a lot of supply chains have suddenly grinded to a halt due to component shortages, for example car chips. This is still the peak of the iceberg when it comes to problems and decisions taken at a political level, but the people themselves are not devoid of any fault, because it’s not like the status quo got shoved down their throats; the vast majority has chosen to comply to the system and not bother thinking about the potential future consequences of such choices.

Still, let’s get going with the story.

In the race to build stuff as cheap as possible, we became the slaves of globalisation

Go into any shop and become conscious of the place the products you buy are made in; you’re going to find out very fast that a lot of them are made in China, and plenty who are not directly made in China, use materials sourced from China.

China has became an expert in undermining critical economic sectors, because in the eyes of the CCP they would rather lose money through such stratagems if it came with a win on the geopolitics and economic front to dominate one of these. We’ve seen this recently in Serbia when it was about opening a lithium mine. Aleksandr Vučić being a bridgehead for China in Europe, managed to easily mobilise the plebs in order to not risk his relation to China by not allowing lithium battery factories to appear, whether directly or indirectly controlled by China.

Yes, almost all lithium batteries used in the electronic devices that we all have, from laptops, smartphones, electric cars, cuckmobiles (also known as e-scooters), external batteries…the list goes on. It’s not like you need something special or high-tech to fabricate batteries someplace else; Tesla has proven this pretty clearly, but Tesla is an exception because it is a niche company where the added value of products is very big, and Musk can afford such acts of independence; well, others are not so lucky: if you want batteries, you better make friends with Xi, because only Xi’s country has basically non-existent pollution regulations and artificially cheap and numerous labour force to undermine other Gigafactories like Tesla.

Any sort of smartphone manufacturer that you may be, when you invest tens, if not hundreds of millions in R&D, miniaturise compnents and still make them relatively accessible, it’s all for naught if you don’t have an electricity source to power the entire shebang; you would lose constantly against others who won’t have any problem buying batteries from China just because you want to go against the trend, and the public will punish you by not buying the product, because the public doesn’t care about such things.

OMG, what do you mean that the public doesn’t care?

When my Sofa associate says that people are not stupid, people are fucking stupid, it sounds like cynicism and absurdity, but it really is like that and if I were to gather sufficient evidence, we wouldn’t even end up enumerating, let alone explaining all of them by the end of 2030. Contextually to this article, people don’t care about where the things they own come from, and from that moment on we can’t also talk about the Science Fiction which are the consequences related to this ignorance.

People continue to buy iPhones despite its manufacturers jump out of the window to commit suicide and the company installed anti-suicide nets. People continue to buy fashion clothing and accessories despite the fact that forcefully sterilised minorities are transformed into slaves to source the cotton for them. You can’t argue that consoomers “didn’t know” what they were doing when they are voting with their wallet by buying such products, while at the same time there are a myriad of other things in the same situation, one way or another, that we buy without considering the consequences; there, now we removed the potential moral crusaders from the discussion.

It’s clear that from this point of view we don’t have an audience if we are to organise a campaign of informing people; people will continue to buy things taking into consideration in a great part the price of the product, the price which is kept artificially low; at the same time technologies got cheaper and trickled down naturally to be more affordable for the larger public, good or bad, but especially the ones we need to be observant are the unknown ones.

Undermining national economies

(This part is explained using Romanian examples, as it wasn’t intended initially to be in English, so apologies in advance if you don’t get the context)

Here is where I’m going to lose the appeal from some of you when I will say that from an economic point of view, Ceaușescu’s push towards industrialization was a good idea, but an exaggerated one at that. Where exaggerations occurred was that the inherent inertia from a centrally-planned economy who also wished for autarchy, these were the leading reasons where situations that were impossible to manage appeared, which inevitably led to the economic collapse and Ceaușescu’s self-helicoptering; however, in itself the decision was still good, but after the collapse of Communism that rug was pulled from under everyone’s feet part due to the political decisions, but also part due to the population which didn’t understand what is going on.

This aspect still applies for the current political class (because our politicians still come from the same population), already the global situation is complicated where, in the European Union you are undermined from 4 sides: German mercantilism, straight-up undermining from China, then the strangulation of ever-expanding hyper-regulation from Brussels and from Bucharest (same principle applies for other European nations, btw; look at how idiotic local and national laws are for economic activities); for the first two it’s difficult to do something without a parallel structure that could compete economically (something that the Intermarium Initiative could solve in the future), but for the last two, especially the national regulations, that is why we live in collective misery and we live with the mantra “the one that bows his head, the sword shall not cut him”.

In Bucharest it’s fascinating to walk in all sorts of random shops where, instead of finding garlic from the Giurgiu region, 20-50km South of the capital, you find garlic brought all the way from China. At the same time we haven’t got a national retailer built up from domestic capital anywhere in the top 20 national retailers (on the 21st being Annabella with shops around Dâmbovița and surrounding counties, and further down the Unicam Cooperative which started from Satu Mare and has a few shops around Transilvania and Vaslui).

You can never convince me that a super-state entity like the self-serving Brussels bureaucrats, that function like in the former USSR (that is why we part-joke and part-seriously use the term EUSSR or Европейский Союз) knows better what is the perfect curvature of bananas, how drinking water actually does not hydrate you, or why you should have a tampon tax of 5% just because the Commission decreed so. Let’s not even talk about the monstrous Common Agricultural Policy, this neo-Valev Plan of the European Union. (English source materials about this policy are scarce – like all relevant elements of Soviet policy that might make people reexamine the Европейски съюз)

No, no, hell no, and if you insist, you deserve to be hit with the shovel straight in the head, under the expectation that maybe your synapses will rearrange themselves, in order to not pretend that this EU circlejerk can have an opinion related to domains far away from their realm of understanding even remotely.

The same thing can be said about Romania, where aside from the regulation shoved down our throats by the EU, we got out own class of self-serving bureaucrats on the Soviet model from Bucharest, who think that Uncle Lajos from rural, Hungarian-majority region Harghita needs to be told the number of maximum pigs he must have on his property and how to take care of them, or now in the current energy crisis, to no one’s surprise, the State gains the most out of it.

No one should mess around with food or other strategic sectors if we are to look at the historical standard of the people, but the economy overall, in sectors critical to the well-functioning of the country, a people undermined from the outside and from the inside will remain on par with the proles described by Orwell in his famous book. Sure, if something will change regarding perception, it’ll happen at a grassroots level, but we got to get rid first of all of this omnipresent mentality of “the State should do this and that”.

Covert colonialism via Belt & Road

Always pay attention to people who speak positively about China, because friendships with China already end up being disastrous for the country that is bewitched by the miracle of “reciprocal economic development and friendship between the people”. We got a considerable list of victims that fell for plenty of reasons, most of the times due to a mix of naivete and corruption, in the trap of modern colonialism:

This list is by no means complete, but you get the idea how venomous Chinese investments are. Things will continue as they are because there are plenty of countries and political structures ripe for exploitation by Chinese imperialism, but at least let’s learn something from the examples provided by these nations to not fall in the same trap, but in particular to boycott a Communist state which transforms entire countries into colonies of debt slaves for their interests. Each country has its own Sinophiles, but there are also threats from the EU itself which is full of Sinophiles, led by the German political class which also threatens security when we talk about relationships with Russia.

Okay, what is there to be done?

Boycott anything of Chinese manufacturing; plenty of times products made locally or in another place close by are just marginally more expensive, but on the longer term more reliable when you factor in the cost, but also its lifespan. This applies to electronics, but also household appliances, clothes, products and the sites that made a business out of selling copies, like Alibaba/Aliexpress.

Undermine Sionphile sympathies; like in the case of avalanches, it’s sufficient just for a few CCP agents or shills for free to enter in political structures, and from that moment on it’ll be much more difficult to uproot the cancer, at a considerable cost as well.

Pay attention and undermine propaganda coming from international Chinese institutions; The Confucious Institute in particular is the main culprit, being a significant institute that initiates naive people in sympathising and shilling for the CCP, by using the rich Chinese culture in baiting people towards them. TikTok is also a significant problem, being used constantly by a humongous population of naive people, especially young people over the age of 13, without them being aware that they play China’s game, when we look at how prevalent pro-China propaganda is on the platform.

Meanwhile in Moldova

Uploading videos in real time is less of a challenge in Moldova than in other places (e.g. Georgia, Ukraine or Zimbabwe). The internet speeds are quite decent (superiour to Germany, for sure).

However, Google decided to be stupid in public and made logging in de facto impossible. So… Bitchute exclusive will it be until I get back to the home base. Also, editing takes time which I’d rather spend walking, filming, interviewing and driving around the 2000+ km roadtrip inside Moldova. But writing some thoughts very late in the night is more doable.

So with that out of the way, here’s what’s been going on.

First of all, those of the opinion that the European Union is Satanic might have a point. I’m only half joking. Of course, Satan probably doesn’t exist and the EU bureaucrats are a bunch of loons. However, the EU flag in the Ștefan cel Mare și Sfînt Park in downtown Chișinău is created, roughly speaking, using 12 renditions of the Sigil of Baphomet. And since Moldova is a mini-EU, err… you get the point. Tho we’d argue that Moldova is more like a mini-layout (minimachetuță) of the EU. But that’s a meme for another time.

Being interviewed by Carabinieri in front of the Moldovan Parliament

Secondly, I learned that you still need a loicense to videotape in front of the Moldovan Parliament. I didn’t need one in Germany, Slovenia, “illiberal” Hungary, Ukraine (under state of war), Georgia, Armenia or even Zimbabwe. But Moldova… is different.

I taped a 40-second segment there in order to use in a montage for the English-language channel. But it took over 15 minutes of chit-chats with three different police squads in three different branches in order to be allowed to do the unspeakable act of taping a 40-second report with the Parliament building behind me.

At least now I have the incentive to finish the montage and publish it before the election. And remember: the country is now ruled by a supposedly “liberal” administration that promotes transparency és szar.

The silver lining would be that at least no paperwork had to be done for this, the officers were civilized and one of them even sort-of apologized for the procedure even existing in the first place. Still… having your name broadcasted on an internal Telegram group of the Carabinieri was one of the weirdest encounters with law enforcement I’ve had in a decade.

“Multifunctional center” in Bălți. Notice the Marx, Lenin and Engels on top of the building.

Although Soviet-era displays are (finally) on their way out from the country, you can still spot them from time to time if you pay enough attention.

Now that in itself wouldn’t be such a terrible thing if it hadn’t been for the fact that in this very election one of the factions running hadn’t been the Communists (red star and hammer and sickle and the whole 9-yards) with good chances of winning.

Campaign tent of the Electoral Block of the Communists and Socialists. Chișinău, July 1, 2021.

If Moldovans had been spending at least half of the energy they spend on terrible politics by focusing on the downtrodden buildings in downtown Chișinău… that would be great. But then again, that would make the whole place a lot less fascinating so… there’s that.

Lada Vaz 2103, Fălești, July 1, 2021.

On a more serious note, the place that keeps on giving leaders of this country, Fălești district, is underwhelming. This district is the hometown of the previous president, of the mayor of Bălți and runner in this election, of multiple ex-ministers and even more political operatives, shills, propagandists and apparatchiks.

Back in Romania, such places (which, for whatever reason, tend to give a disproportionate amount of national leaders or influential people) also benefit from some special attention. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not that this isn’t and hasn’t been happening in Moldova. Not my place to judge.

500m from the Parliament, Chișinău

But no, seriously, the amount of downtrodden buildings on a 700m radius from the seat of the Parliament and the seat of the Government is too high.

Perhaps I am wrong, but it stands to reason that things could improve if more attention were given by the city on code enforcement than on who is committing the unspeakable act of videotaping in front of the Parliament.

It is likely that I am wrong, though, because the economic situation of the country is worse than what the official numbers show. I haven’t seen so many central (read: downtown) commercial spaces for rent or outright for sale in Moldova since mid 2000s. The economic crisis is not an academic discussion in Moldova. It’s already here and it’s very rough.

If a political party manages to deliver something, anything on economics in the next 6 to 18 months, that political party will rule this country until 2030.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that none of them will be able. And things will go south even more. Because fixing the economics of this country is hard work. And ain’t no-one got time fo’ that. There’s bread and circus to be delivered.

This is Chișinău on July 2:

Across the street there was a huge screen for people to watch EURO2021. People here support Ukraine. And, to a lesser extent, Czechia and Italy. At least that’s perfectly understandable. Because Ukraine, Czechia and Italy are understandable to Moldovans. Denmark or England? Not so much.

In any event – the show must go on. And it will. Even if on an emptier stomach.