Gref: Russia needs a quick escape, not to stay in the downshifters

Gref: Russia needs a quick escape, not to stay in the downshifters


You need to change the approach to what is happening in the world, said the head of Sberbank session “Future impossible” of the Gaidar forum at the Ranepa. According to him, Russia needs to quickly run in the direction of the change, to get away from technological enslavement.

MOSCOW, 15 Jan. Irina Dorzhieva. The head of the largest Russian Bank, ex-Minister of economic development Herman Gref has told about how the rapid development of technology is changing society, business and every human life, and urged Russia, which, in his opinion, was among the country downshifters, “quickly run in the direction of the change” to get away from “technological enslavement”.

Thus, the performance of Gref once again reminded of the African proverb about the lion and Gazelle, which he likes to recite: “Every morning a Gazelle wakes up with the idea that if she can’t get away from that lion, will become someone’s Breakfast. And every morning the lion wakes up with the idea that if you can’t catch up the slowest Gazelle, it will go hungry. You are a Gazelle or a lion, waking up in the morning, you’d better run”.

On Friday at session “Future impossible” of the Gaidar forum at the Ranepa, the head of Sberbank noted that the Russian society needs to change its approach to what is happening in the world.

“Mikhail Valentinovich (Kovalchuk, Director of Kurchatov Institute – ed.) said that colonization has been replaced by the technical enslavement. Nothing has changed. We lost the competition, I must honestly say, and a technological enslavement, I would not have said so, of course, we just happened to be in the camp of countries that lose country downshifters” — said Gref.

“We’re in that future now, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future! We are going to fall behind if we don’t change the public concept of our approach to what is happening in the world,” he said.

Downshifting meaning in English switch the car into a lower gear, is used as a term denoting philosophy of life “life for me”, “refusal from common goods”, the reluctance of career growth. Related to the concept of simple living — simple life.

The trap of low oil prices

“Countries and people that have managed to adapt in time, they are the winners today. Countries that do not have time to adapt our own economy and the whole social system, and all institutions, they will be very hard to lose. And the gap will, unfortunately, significantly more than during the last industrial revolution”, — said the head of the largest Russian Bank.

According to him, the most dramatic changes will take place at the level of each person, the tragedy would be for people who are not ready to follow technological progress. He noted that the need to find a way out of this problem. “There will be a tremendous demand for specialists of high qualification, there will be a demand for very low-skilled workers — to fill the gap those same migrants. And it will be a tragedy for the middle of people who don’t want to do low-skilled work and are not ready to engage in high-skilled occupations. This is a big problem. It is necessary to discuss, to reflect and to think, what to do,” said Gref.

ROSBANK economist Evgeny Koshelev believes that Russia is now in a trap of low oil prices, which do not allow the country to attract investment, and in relation to Russia in this context the operative word is “outsider”.

“The current situation in which Russia can be called a “trap” for one simple reason: the fall in oil prices is lack of income. The revenue shortfall is a decrease in the attractiveness, growth. These rates of growth to accelerate in Russia needs to increase productivity, investment is needed. In this regard, Russia looks not downshifters, but rather an outsider”, says Koshelev.

Without the return of foreign investment Russia may be among the outsiders, believes an economist at ROSBANK. “All those foreign players who came to Russia for the last many years, you see that the economy has slowed down, investments are very expensive, and the recoil will bring little. This can only mean that Russia will not be able to be attractive for new investment. To implement a technological breakthrough without any outside sources – no import of technology, import of capital seriously. Without them, Russia will remain an outsider, which will be mostly seen as a commodity economies,” says Koshelev.

The sunset of the oil era

Gref believes that oil era is over, and no matter how much will oil cost is 20 or 60 dollars per barrel. Forecasts for the markets power generation and transportation, which consume almost 70% of the hydrocarbons undergo a period of “tremendous changes”.

According to Gref, the largest consumer of hydrocarbons — China in the coming years will increase the installed capacity of power plants using renewable energy sources, up to 560 GW. “This is, for comparison, 2.5 times more than the entire installed capacity of the Russian Federation”, — he said.

“The closest forecast that China at the rate that he now creates alternative energy,… will consume about 45% less than traditional energy sources. This is our coal, which we in large volume and develop and deliver, and continue to invest in coal, designed for the Chinese market. And hydrocarbons,” — said Gref.

“You could say that this era is in the past. Today we can say, as they say, the stone age ended not because we ran out of stones, just as we can say that the oil age is over. Whether its rest, don’t know how many — 10 years until the whole infrastructure of electric vehicles will be deployed adequately,” — said the head of the largest Russian Bank.

“When I first got in the car the Tesla, I realized that this is the future, unfortunately, it came sooner than we were expecting him, as always,” added Gref.

Education reform

Gref reiterated that Russia needs time to change state institutions, education system. It is important, in his view, to prevent “brain drain” from the country, from which Russia suffers huge losses.

“The worst of our exports, and our largest export, which must be stopped, is “export of brains”. We do not believe, how much we export in a year, but this, I fear, the volume loss of the largest amount of what we export. Export forever, unfortunately,” said the ex-Minister of economic development.

He also considers it necessary to reduce the backlog of the country in terms of technology. “No nation, no person, no company will be left out in this technological revolution. It is necessary to understand and be aware of the systemic impact for all without exception. Who wants to stay in trend, doesn’t want to be downshifters… Unless we want to remain a country-downshifters, we need, of course, begin to very quickly move in this direction”, — said Gref, adding that the speed factor is very important.

“A key role in this process, I don’t tire of talking about this is education, from kindergartens to universities. All model of education needs to be changed. Must be radically changed online education, which is the same as a traditional… In my opinion, and those other losers” — said the head of Sberbank.

According to him, attempts to reproduce the old Soviet school of wrong, while Sberbank has a systemic approach to education reform.

“We are trying to play the old, Soviet, absolutely worthless today, the model of education — zapihivanie children a huge amount of knowledge. Staff in the education system, teachers, parents and children in shock of what to do, what kind of information to try to cram in an abused child to start to cram all this unnecessary junk,” — said Gref.

Chief economist of the Eurasian development Bank Dmitry Lisovolik do not fully agree with the former Minister of economic development. “We still have to leave the best of Soviet science, in the Soviet period the standard of education was very high,” — said Lissovolik.

He recognizes the existence of the technological gap in many sectors, noting that the need to catch up. “Here Mr. Gref was right when he spoke about education, in General, on the development of human capital as a key priority, which would allow us to bridge the gap. I must admit that a critical mass of some industrial and technological development we have, there is human capital, which with proper use and proper development, could help us to overcome the significantly higher levels of competitiveness,” — said the economist.