Everybody blames somebody sometime. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov called for prosecuting the perpetrators of what he called the “government-GKO pyramid.” He referred to the government funding of its deficits with short-term notes (GKOs). which it sold to favored banks at discount prices. The banks re-sold the GKO’s and used the profits to buy more, allowing the government to roll over past debt and issue more GKOs, which again it sold cheap for the banks to resell at a profit. The pyramid collapsed when the banks’ customers–mostly foreigners–wised up and stopped buying.
Luzhkov put the funding of the Russian government in the same class of financial shenanigan as the MMM stock swindle that bilked thousands of Russians of their savings; or the All-Russian Automobile Alliance, a buyers’ club-cum-lottery that before its collapse gave Boris Berezovsky the cash flow he needed to grease his way to the title of Russia’s Richest Man. And while we’re bringing the pyramid-builders to justice, Luzhkov told a cheering labor-union audience in Moscow, let’s have “a mandatory review of the results of privatization. … [Former Prime Minister Anatoly] Chubais gave 100 percent of the property to criminals.”