A) Um, all aggregate measurements are misleading. If in a country of 1M people, they make $1 a day and I make $1B a day, the GDP/Population will be 365M + 365B/1M, giving the impression that everyone in the country is making more than $300K per year.
B) Resources are a curse, because they lead to corruption, rent seeking, subsidy, and a lack of innovation.
C) Putin does not get credit for his expansion of rule of law. But corruption is pervasive. It is not like corruption in the states – which is invisible – it’s visible. And in some ways that’s more tolerable. But it is very hard to start and keep a business running, and it’s middle class and business that drives a people out of low income.
B) Russia is a VERY big place. I mean, the USA is big. But Russia is 11 time zones big, and like canada, the population is largely along the borders. Imagine the cost of infrastructure in Belgium or Denmark vs the cost of infrastructure in Russia? For example, I spent some time with the founder and ‘president’ of one of the popular mega sports store chains. And what do you do when you run a business across that many time zones, and telephone, internet, and power, are often unreliable? What do you do when you must pay (bribe) people in the government just to get basic things done – not even privileges, but just to do their job? I tried to buy a company in moscow, and i literally couldn’t find one to buy. Not because there weren’t any. But because you can’t keep ‘legit’ books and survive. And it’s never clear who owns anything. Until the past few years it was difficult to trust the courts so contracts were difficult, and cash rather than credit slows the economy. So all of these ‘frictions’ add up.
C) Moscow is a VERY expensive city (I wish I lived there, I love it and I love russian people). But people outside the major cities are still quite poor. (And Belarus and Ukraine are even worse.)
D) Russians were virtually slaves 150 years ago. Under the soviets it varied quite a bit from murderous, to horrible to comfortable, to exceptionally good. And then they had a catastrophic event (collapse), and then dragged themselves out of it.
The only difference I have found between ‘white’ russians and ‘white’ americans is that americans are foolishly optimistic and trusting, and russians are foolishly pessimistic and untrusting. The rest of the western world has turned effeminate in the french(postmodern) and jewish(marxist) and outside of Australians, White americans, and White Russians, Christendom is in a catastrophe.