And where were the Masters?
Before the St. Petersburg forum, Putin was delivering an invariable message every time he met a western leader. He would talk about bilateral trade, and then remark things could be way, way better. At the forum, it's beyond evident that the EU's policy of sanctioning Russia is a disaster -- whatever the European Council decides next week.
Those masters of Kafkaesque bureaucracy at the European Commission (EC) keep swearing Europe is not suffering. Who're you going to believe? EC bureaucrats who only care about their fat retirement pensions, or this Austrian study?
And then there was The Big Meeting on the sidelines of SPIEF: Putin with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The question here is not Greece becoming a BRICs member tomorrow, for instance. Yves Smith at her Naked Capitalism blog may have succinctly nailed it; "The objective risk of a new Greece-Russia alliance ... is whether Europeans are worried enough about this risk to change course."
There's no evidence -- yet -- there will be a change of course. Iron Chancellor Merkel is now openly brandishing the Russia card -- as in Moscow getting a foothold in the EU -- to keep other EU nations in tune with the German austerity obsession.
As for the Last Word at the forum, it was hard to beat Tsipras; Europe "should stop considering itself the centre of the universe, it should understand that the center of world economic development is shifting to other regions."
So were there any real Masters of the Universe present at SPIEF?
In the real world, there are a number of institutions and conferences that serve as the basis for "coordination" policies. But the Masters of the Universe are not there. They pull the strings of the marionettes that attend the meetings -- and then whatever they decided is coordinated below.
Putin did not miss anything by being snubbed at the G7 in the Bavarian Alps (actually G1 + "junior partners"). He would be meeting with figureheads, anyway.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), featuring the key central bankers, they meet once a month for "coordination purposes." The Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission, and Davos also meet for coordination purposes. A case can be made that SPIEF is now the key coordination forum for Eurasia. Masters of the Universe -- real or self-perceived -- may snub it at their own peril.
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