About economic growth in the Russian Empire, the beginning of XX century

The economic policy of the Russian Empire — dive into the abyss


Before we analyze in detail the economic policies of the early XX century must be in the form of a brief outline how the situation developed before the accession to the throne of Nicholas II.

A distinctive feature of the Russian Empire as were the endless wars that she led, inevitably led to huge budget deficits because the economy is always in need of additional issue of bank notes. One of the most costly was the Crimean War, forcing print large quantities of paper money.

In the era of military campaigns and the reforms of Alexander II the total budget deficit amounted astronomical at the time,1 billion rubles.with half of a billion accounts for 1855-1856. Cover the costs had such huge foreign borrowings. The tremendous growth of public debt has led to what is in the budget of 1857268 million.income100 million rubles.intended to service the debt. At the end of the reign of Alexander II national debt has tripled.

During the reign of Alexander III, Russia collects huge crops of corn in crop failure in Europe, which allows us to develop to an enormous size grain exports. Since 1888, in the budget there is a new large source of income — income from state-owned railways. In conjunction with the policy of saving is possible to achieve a balanced budget and even exceed government revenues over expenditures. At the same time introducing a policy of customs protection, which allows not only to pay the interest on the foreign debt in gold and silver, but also to accumulate gold reserves of the state. This policy, however, comes to crash due to crop failure in 1891. The government was forced to ban the export of grain this year and 161 million rubles. the purchase of food for the hungry. These costs significantly affected the state treasury, again forced to print paper money and resort to new borrowing.

By the time of accession to the throne of Nicholas II payments on public debt accounted for 20% of government spending. If the total income of the treasury1.7 billion rubles.debt service goes346 million rubles.In 1897, the "financial genius", the representative of the new wave of economists, monetarists, Finance Minister Sergei Witte, concerned about the successful entry of Russia into the world economy has Imperatorudenezhnuyu reform aimed at strengthening investment activity and an increase in the inflow of foreign capital into the country. The Emperor agrees. And in 1897 passed a reform that ties the ruble to gold, and as we shall see, this is the beginning of the collapse of the Russian Empire and the loss of its economic sovereignty.

After the reform of the country flooded by foreign capital, which began construction of new enterprises. As a result, the industry growth rate increased sharply. However, the West has nothing to fear, "jerked" ahead of Russia. The more efficient the Russian economy worked, the more the income received by the Bank of Western countries. It is significant that after the reform of foreign debt continued to grow. Russian-Japanese War forced to further increase the amount of borrowing. National debt has increased from6.6 billion rubles.to8.7 billion rubles.Place the main creditor of the Russian Empire (about 60% of borrowing) to belong to France.

In the 1887-1913 years. The West has invested in Russia1,783 million gold rubles.During the same period, were exported from Russia in net income —2,326 million gold rubles(Excess of revenues over 26 years of investment — at 513 million gold rubles). Every year, the transfer abroad of interest payments and repayments of loans to500 million gold rubles(In current prices is $ 15 billion).

During the period from 1888-1908 yy Russia had a positive trade balance with the rest of a $ 6.6 billion gold rubles. This amount is 1.6 times the value of all Russian industrial enterprises and working capital to them. In other words, by building two plants in Russia, the West for money Russian built 3 businesses at home. Therefore, the average per capita income in imperial Russia grew much slower than the average income of those countries that their "investments and loans" rob Russia.

Moreover, all of these companies do not belong to Russia. Take, for example, the book "The securities of the Russian State", published in Moscow in 1995. In it the authors present photographs of models of the securities. Having carefully reviewed these photos, we can see that the Russian industry was practically divided between the western states.

For example, the shares of companies, banks and railways of the Russian Empire, had inscriptions in Russian, German, English and French, except for the spread of addresses in St. Petersburg and in Moscow had the addresses of distribution in Europe and the United States.

In other words, at least two thirds of Russian industry did not belong to her and did not work for the welfare of the country and to support the growth of foreign economies. Is not it a very familiar picture?

First of all, Russia even in terms of industrial production lagged behind the United States, Britain, Germany and France. Its share in the total industrial production of the above five states accounted for only 4.2%.

In the worldwide production in 1913, the share of Russian was 1.72% and the U.S. — 20%, England — 18%, Germany — 9%, France — 7.2% (it is all countries with a population of less t
han 2-3 times than Russia).

And despite the fact that in Russia in 1913 was a record (80 million tons) of grain crops.

Yields in Russia on average 8 tons per hectare. The rates are very low. Despite this, Russia exported abroad every year about 10 million tons of grain. As a result, the consumption of bread in Russia a year per person consumed 345 pounds of bread. United States 992 pounds, 912 pounds Denmark, France 544, Germany 432 kilograms. At the time, about the situation in Germany, VI Lenin said, a very interesting phrase:"In Germany prevailed not only hunger, but brilliantly organized famine"

By the size of the gross national product per capita inferior to the U.S. Russia — by 9.5 times, England — 4,5, Canada — 4, Germany — 3,5, France, Belgium, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Spain — 3 times, Austro-Hungary — 2 times.

Russia continued to lose ground — in 1913 it was correlated with GNP GNP Germany as 3.3 to 10, while in 1850 the ratio was 4 to 10.

The volume of industrial production in 1913:


Common, mln.

Per capita, rubles.




United Kingdom












When people talk about economic growth somehow leave aside one very interesting thing — in spite of economic growth, per capita income in Russia from 1885 to 1913 fell by almost half, lagging behind the developed countries has almost doubled. That is, Russia has developed, Russia regressed.

By 1913, Russia has lost its economic sovereignty. This is the only property in Russia, which was owned by foreign capital. Not to mention even of those loans that were taken.

The First World War, which in 1914 joined the Russian Empire, with great clarity revealed a flawed economic model of arming themselves. Went down in the world economy economy has been unable to provide immediate life problems of the country and the army at war. The result: the gold reserves, which stood at the beginning of the war1.7 billion rubles.in 1914, in 1915, already a year later, was reduced to1.3 billion rubles.and by January 1917 was1.1 billion rubles.External debt in the first year of the war rose from8.8 billion rubles.in 1914, to10.5 billion rubles.in 1915 and by January 1917, and was at all —33.6 billion rubles.

For the army did not have enough weapons to the country's food supply. Began to issue currency not backed by gold. Inflation reached 13,000%. The peasants refused to sell food, and at the end of 1916 the government was forced to introduce the surplus appropriation system.

It turned out that in the state factories 122 millimeter shrapnel costs 15 rubles per pound, and the private factory since 35 major defense plants in St. Petersburg and the Urals owned by foreign capital.

And speaking of Nicholas II, Chief of the Main Artillery Directorate Manyakovskim:

Nicholas II: On You complain that you feel free to amateur societies in supplying the army.

Manyakovsky: Your Majesty, they are already cashing in on the supply of the army by 300%, and sometimes, as in 1000.

Nicholas II: Well, let them make profit, but would not steal.

Manyakovsky: Your Majesty, but that's not even theft, robbery and clean.

Nicholas II: Still no need to annoy the public opinion.

(N.Yakovlev, Fiat, page 196)

What were the goals of Russian state in the First World War? We all know the conversations that Russia was fighting for the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. But why do they need Russia as a state? If we look closely at the map, we see that in fact, no state problems acquiring the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles were not solved. Solved the problem only trading. Here again, going back to the map. You can see the French enclave. The richest, most fertile land, large estates that were under French influence through credit, owned by the French railways. Export of grain through Odessa in the direction of Constantinople and was necessary private capital to express there was no barrier at the Straits in order to safely remove them owned grain to Europe across the Mediterranean. That's why to fulfill the economic challenges that are put before England and France, the members of the Entente, was dragged into the war Russia.

As a result, the Russian Empire collapsed, unable to withstand the trials of World War II. Its successor interim government not only did not improve the situation in the economy, but rather more of aggravated. The already huge public debt grew by July 1917 to44 billion rubles.and by October was60 billion rubles.The country has continued inflation — too much money in circulation. It was inevitable companion of the depreciation of money and rising prices. By February 1917, the purchasing power of the ruble was 27 cents by October 1917, the purchasing power of the ruble fell 7.6 cents to pre-war levels.

You can lead a curious example: the only normal operating commercial enterprise in Russia in March and October 1917 expedition was preparing state papers in St. Petersburg on Fontanka (now Gosznak, which in 2008 celebrated its 190th anniversary.) This factory under the Provisional Government has worked continuously in 4 shifts, and throwing it on the market more and more paper money, which cost less and replace the injured menshe.Na political defeat of the Bolsheviks came to the Provisional Government, and who have taken the difficult decision of all the accumulated burden problems. Analysis of the economic state of the Russian Empire at the turn of 19-20 centuries and until October 17 th year clearly shows that the translation of the Russian Empire on the rails of liberal monetarism ended for her collapse and catastrophe. Unfortunately, since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia are all in the same way. Does not this mean that modern capitalism has not abandoned the coveted desires for economic enslavement and dismemberment of the country into zones of economic expansion? ..

Authors: Arsene Aydunbekov, Marc Sorkin.

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