Chart: Putin’s dwindling optimism about Russia becoming the fifth largest economy

Putin’s predictions.
Putin’s predictions.
Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via Reuters
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Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin made a bold claim: By the end of his current six-year plan, in 2024, Russia would become the world’s fifth-largest economy. That’s a big jump from its current position, at 12th, behind Canada and South Korea.

It’s good to set ambitious goals. But they should not be, you know, too ambitious.

Putin has been promising to launch Russia into that fifth position for years, as Russian news site Meduza points out. In 2007, he said it would happen in 2017. Then in 2008, he said it would happen in 2020.

You might expect the amount of time before the goal is reached to decline over time. For example, say you claim it will take three years to learn Spanish. After one year there, there are just two years remaining. If you were to put that on a chart, it would be a simple, straight line, sloping downward. That’s not what Putin’s chart looks like.

By now, we should have been at or close to zero, following the earlier prediction that 2017 would be the year Russia finally cracks the top five. Even with a generous margin of error, Putin was way off. Indeed the line shoots up, back to the 6-year mark.

Putin’s plan (link in Russian) offers a lot of other promises and predictions, like increasing birth rates and improving health care. If this chart is any guide, those shouldn’t be taken too seriously.