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Learning English - Words in the News
 
25 February, 2005 - Published 12:48 GMT
 
Bush and Putin hold talks
 
President Bush and President Putin

President Bush has met President Putin for talks in Bratislava. The Economic relationship between the two powers has changed since the 1990s, with Russia no longer seeking financial aid from the United States. This report from Andrew Walker:

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Russia's economic situation has changed dramatically since a financial crisis in 1998. Before then, there had been bouts of very rapid price rises, or hyper-inflation.

According to official figures, which it must be said are especially unreliable in Russia's case, the economy shrank by more than forty per cent from the size it was before the end of communism. The government's finances were out of control with large deficits. In 1998 the situation came to a head with a devaluation of the currency and a default on some government debts.

Now the economy is growing fairly strongly. The devaluation certainly helped, making Russian business more competitive. But the fourfold rise in oil prices since 1998 was especially important.

The oil and gas industry, Russia's most important, has seen revenues boom. It has paid more tax, fixing the problem with the government's finances. But some economists worry that Russia's improvement is too dependent on oil prices.

They point out that much Russian finance is leaving the country, instead of being invested at home. They say that action taken by the government - in particular the legal action taken against the oil company Yukos - has created an atmosphere that discourages business from investing in Russia.

Nonetheless, there's no question that Mr Putin meets Mr Bush on a stronger economic platform than his predecessor.

Andrew Walker, BBC News, London

Listen to the words

dramatically
very suddenly and noticeably

hyper-inflation
a condition where the price of everything in a national economy goes out of control and increases rapidly

official figures
financial facts issued by the government (note: facts are usually written as numbers)

unreliable
cannot be trusted

came to a head
reached a very bad situation or became very serious

devaluation
a reduction in the value of one currency against others

default
fail to do something that you are legally required to do, such as pay a debt

revenues
the money that a government or company receives regularly

discourages
makes someone or some organisation less willing to do something

predecessor
someone who had a job before someone else

 
 
 
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