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Economic Crisis in Russia

November 14, 1998

* Poor, tortured Russia! The Times' Nov. 8 Sunday Report only details the second death of a people and country that have suffered so much and deserved better for the tribulations they have been through. Whipsawed between two ideologies in 80 years, what spirit can remain when, having elbowed their way out of one ideology, they emerge from that frying pan only to be reduced to economic and social ashes by another: free-market capitalism.

The prospects for further adoption or success of this newly hatched ideology have not been improved by the U.S.'s "do as I say; not as I do" prescription to others. Our Federal Reserve Bank leads the team to bail out the largest hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, in direct contradiction of the cold-turkey economic medicine we are forcing down the throats of other countries through the International Monetary Fund.

We might paraphrase William Blake to say: "The visions of ideologies breed monsters." And that goes for free-market capitalism as well as communism and Nazism.

FREDERIC E. PAMP

Santa Barbara

*

The IMF, like so many other failed programs, is good on intent and very bad on design. Like new math and whole language, the IMF is doing to world finance what these embarrassments did to education. The IMF was to replace the failed U.S. concept of cash foreign aid. Cash foreign aid somehow wound up in the Swiss bank accounts of the recipient heads of state. The cash of the IMF has done the same.

As Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia said in 1960, "Let your foreign aid be in D-8 Caterpillars . . . these work, these we can use . . . cash just causes trouble." His plea is true today.

JAMES GLENNON

Malibu

*

So the hopeful and trusting masses of Russia have seen the concentration of financial power drift into the hands of a select business elite. What have these entrepreneurs done? A public accountant of Russia's Audit Chamber estimates that "Russia was $200 billion in debt and $300 billion has been pillaged and covertly transferred overseas." Gee, maybe the "trickle-down" theory doesn't work there either!

DON and SHARRON BRUNDIGE

San Pedro

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