By R Page Arnot

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Mr. Jones is a carpenter who, during the recession of the late 1990s, traded in his benefits to keep his job in a local construction company. Mrs. Jones is no domestic goddess. More likely, she is overweight and overworked. Employed as a nurse at a nearby hospital, in her spare time she assists neighbors without medical insurance. The occasional tax-free extra cash is crucial to make ends meet. In 2006, the couple’s household income was $46,326, $2,000 lower than in 2001, the year the previous recession ended.

Communist economies constantly suffered shortages of products because planning proved unable to mimic or even to gauge the market. indd 22 ROGUE ECONOMICS 11/2/08 2:05:04 PM governments considered the black market illegal, but leaders looked the other way because it performed valuable tasks (and often lined their pockets). The black market and the informal economy, therefore, functioned according to market laws, but both were rife with small-time crooks, corrupt officials and party members. Beznalichnye could not be converted into cash rubles because the Central Bank would not exchange them.

28 Russia also suffers from one of the fastest-spreading rates of HIV. The epidemic has really just begun, with most individuals infected between 1999 and 2005,29 and it is likely to spread worldwide. The World Health Organization fears that Slavic women contaminate clients everywhere. 30 While a solid statistical correlation between the collapse of fertility rates, the dramatic decline in Russian birthrates, and the rise of the global prostitution industry does not exist, radical changes in morality caused by the culture of “sex for sale” have unquestionably affected the attitudes of Russian women to life.

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