4th Moscow Academic Economic Forum recapped
19 May 2022
On May 16-17, 2022, the 4th International Moscow Academic Economic Forum organized by the Free Economic Society of Russia, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the International Union of Economists was held in Moscow, Russia. Central topic of the Forum was: "Russia: Challenges of the Global Transformation in the 21st Century."

The Moscow Academic Economic Forum is a permanent discussion platform hosting several sectoral and thematic forums annually.

An important feature of the Moscow Academic Economic Forum is its strong regional component. This year, from April 18 to May 13, MAEF-2022's 81 regional venues operated in 52 regions throughout the Russian Federation. More than six hundred industry experts spoke at the forum's science and practice events in the regions.

In total, more than 12,500 participants took part in the MAEF-2022 events, including leading scientists and experts from 21 countries of the world, representatives of committees of the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Russian Federation, government bodies of the Russian Federation, national and international public institutions, rectors of the country's leading economic universities, recent graduates.

Russian Federation's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Head of Rossotrudnichestvo Evgeny Primakov, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation Sergey Katyrin, President of Business Russia Pavel Titov, Chair of the State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education Sergey Kabyshev, Chair of the State Duma Committee on Economic Policy Maxim Topilin, Chair of the State Duma Committee on Industry and Trade Vladimir Gutenev, Secretary of the Public Chamber of Russia Lidia Mikheeva, Commissioner under the President of Russia for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs Boris Titov, Chair of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia Mikhail Shmakov, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow Vladimir Kuznetsov, governors of the Russian Federation's regions, and many other public figures sent their greetings to the Forum.

May 16, 2022

On May 16, the opening and plenary session of the 4th Moscow Academic Economic Forum took place in the Presidential Hall of the Russian Academy of Sciences in a hybrid physical and online format. The sessions in the Presidential Hall of the Russian Academy of Sciences were streamed live on several online platforms. More than 3,500 scientists and professionals joined the Forum's central events via videoconferencing. The event was hosted by Andrey Zhurankov, Head of the Analytical Team, TASS Press Center.

The Forum was opened by its Co-Chairs — Alexander Sergeyev, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Sergey Bodrunov, President of the Free Economic Society of Russia, President of the International Union of Economists.

"The Moscow Academic Economic Forum has become a prominent landmark of the country's science and socio-economic landscape," noted Sergey Bodrunov. "We held it under the most difficult conditions, despite the restrictions brought by the pandemic and the global economic crisis. We are holding it today against the backdrop of deep geopolitical and economic contradictions and strong pressure on the country's government. Of course, scientists, representatives of the academic community, experts never stop thinking about the future, about how to find the optimal path into it, rather than sink into stagnation and chaos."

The new geoeconomic reality requires quick decisions from the scientific community, the Russian federal government, and above all from economists, emphasized Alexander Sergeev.

"Economics is now of particular importance. Decisions have to be made on the fly, and to do this one has to be able to quickly assess various alternatives under great uncertainty," the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences added.

In the face of external sanctions, the Russian economy is demonstrating resilience; opportunities seem to remain for a transition to higher growth by 2023-2024. However, there are tasks that must be addressed in the near future. This is, first of all, the substitution of critical imports, the acceleration of technology development, the development of new financial instruments and technologies, and the reduction of the impact of export restrictions on the Russian energy sector. This conclusion was made by the experts attending the 4th Moscow Academic Economic Forum.

RAS President Alexander Sergeyev stressed that today the issues of import substitution and the development of domestic technology solutions are on the agenda.

Among the technology priorities identified by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences named medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, state-of-the-art developments in chemistry, biotechnology, microelectronics, laser and optical technologies, mechanical engineering.

"In these six areas, we have now established joint working groups that will determine how science can most effectively contribute to solving the problems of import independence and how to quickly translate our developments into finished products," Alexander Sergeyev explained.

The key restrictions bottlenecks for the Russian economy in the short term are critical imports and putting to work the scientific and technological development potential in the medium term, agreed the Director of the Institute for Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Board of the VEO of Russia Alexander Shirov.

According to Shirov, the most important issue of scientific and technological policy is the replacement of the foreign R&D subject to restrictions with domestic research and scientific cooperation with friendly countries, and the key areas for overcoming the technological gap are sectors such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, digital technologies, industrial engineering.

President of the VEO of Russia Sergey Bodrunov expressed the opinion that one of the main goals of socio-economic development should be the formation of knowledge-intensive production, including addressing the challenge of commercializing innovations, reindustrialization and reintegration of production, science, and education, active development of fundamental science.

"Here, in the development of knowledge-based production, Russia has the potential to become one of the world leaders. For this, however, a significant renewal of economic relations and institutions is necessary," Bodrunov believes.

"To solve the strategic tasks set by the President of Russia, a new economic policy is needed. We need a new type of economy, supported only by re-orientation towards the East, but also technology and knowledge," agreed Chief Economist of Vnesheconombank, Member of the Board of the VEO of Russia Andrey Klepach.

The fight against Russia's currently limited technological development is a priority today, said the Deputy Chair of the Committee on Science and Higher Education of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Ekaterina Kharchenko.

"1.2 trillion rubles is annually earmarked for national programs of scientific and technological development and 500 billion rubles directly for research. We see that work has already begun on the creation of a domestic methodology for performance assessment of scientific research. This applies to scientists, research teams, and entire organizations. We now have no room for error, and much is being done in this direction. Of course, the role of a unified state information system is important, which will record the results of the research activities of all actors in the system of science and higher education," she said.

For the innovative development of the Russian economy, Deputy Director for Research at Primakov IMEMO, RAS, Vladimir Milovidov proposed to employ the potential of the domestic stock market — namely, stimulate retail investors to invest in promising industries. At the same time, according to Milovidov, it should be borne in mind that when choosing securities under uncertainty, stock market participants are guided not so much by the financial performance of companies as by emotions and their investment visions.

"It is important to find an emotional and psychological approach, to create a certain environment that will increase the propensity to invest and will solve the problem of lack of financial resources, which is already felt. Over the past two years, from 5 to 10 million new investors have entered the Russian stock market, and, of course, we should take advantage of this," Vladimir Milovidov explained.

Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vice President of the VEO of Russia Sergey Glazyev proposed to redistribute the flow of natural rent to finance the technological breakthrough, as well as grow the volume of lending to investors in advanced industries.

"Our banks, due to ultra-high interest rates and ruble's the, have almost stopped lending to investors. The share of such assets is about 5%, while it should be at 50%. The mechanism of transformation of savings into investments is notr working. Making capital available to finance innovative projects and modernization of the economy based on a new technological order is the most important condition for achieving accelerated growth," said Glazyev.

According to Sergey Glazyev, thanks to the introduction of an export duty on unprocessed commodities, the federal budget's revenues might increase by another 25 trillion rubles. This money should be used to finance research and development (R&D). Simultaneously with export duties, an internal system should be built for pricing for exchange commodities as this will support economic sustainability and stability.

According to the Director of the Institute of Economics and Organization of Industrial Production of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valery Kryukov, preferences in finance and credit, solutions involving support to the digital economy or specific technologies are inadequate — projects should be implemented.

"A project related to the development of natural resources in the Arctic and on a large fraction of the territory of the Russian Federation could be the foundation that will allow us to use the potential of the domestic market and achieve the development of scientific and technical potential," the scientist is convinced.

From Kryukov's point of view, when implementing projects in the Arctic, it is fundamentally important to form and develop cooperative and integration ties, both at the local and interregional levels (for businesses, as a rule, cooperation issues are not among the priorities, it is more important to achieve the shortest possible payback period). No less important is cooperation based on the formation and regulation of complex scientific and technology projects for the establishment and development of spatially distributed value chains.

At present, the main industrial centers in Russia's east, in particular, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Chita, Khabarovsk, are hardly involved in value chains — neither at the project planning nor at the subsequent implementation stage.

An environment is needed for the generalization and dissemination of local knowledge, practices and initiatives, the scientist believes. For this, flexible, smart solutions are needed to "use the potential of various economic professions and specialists, in the field of taxation, access to financial resources, conflict resolution." This requires the active involvement of the regulators.

It is possible to make a technological breakthrough, relying not only on monetary, but also on human capital, believes the Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Lomonosov Moscow State University Alexander Auzan.

"Our main strategic resource in intercivilizational competition is human capital. We are among the best in the world in terms of human capital, but far from the top of the list in terms of GDP per capita. We must try to prevent this from causing our human capital to leak and mitigate the shortcomings of Russia's economy, which, in the context of adaptation, will contract," said Auzan.

Maintaining the population numbers is one of the main tasks set by the President of Russia in the Decree on the National Development Goals of Russia. Director of CEMI RAS, Corresponding Member of RAS Albert Bakhtizin raised the issue of depopulation.

According to the cumulative integral index of national strength, which was calculated using a wide range of indicators for 193 countries (a study by the CEMI RAS and the Federal Protection Service of the Russian Federation), Russia and China are facing a significant population loss.

Researchers at CEMI RAS have identified key factors contributing to increased birth rates — financial support for families, flexible work schedules, values, quality medical care, social environment, housing, and others. Negative factors include lack of jobs, unfavorable economic situation, rising unemployment, poor living conditions.

"It was not possible to unambiguously determine the influence of one factor on the demographic situation for a large set of countries. Accordingly, in order to actually reverse the trend of depopulation, multiple factors should be in place simultaneously. Any factor has a temporary effect. After a while, it stops working," concluded Bakhtizin.

Nevertheless, according to the estimates by CEMI RAS researchers, who have been modeling demographic processes for a long time, quality healthcare has the potential to keep additional 1.5 million people in Russia by 2036.

The issue of restoring incomes remains on the agenda, noted Andrey Klepach.

According to VEB.RF, the package of measures to support Russia's residents and the economy, which the Government of Russia has already adopted, will reduce the decline in real incomes from 11% to 9%.

"The measures already approved or launched by the federal government will reduce the drop in real incomes by 1.9%. But this is primarily support for families with children, raising the subsistence level, the minimum wage, and additional indexation of pensions. This does little for the bulk of the workforce, including teachers, doctors, scientists, military personnel," explained Klepach.

To increase the stability of the Russian economy, accelerated technological development, climate and environmental policies are extremely important, experts noted at the Forum.

"It is necessary to ensure the integration of climate and environmental policies through strategic planning, primarily through the strategy of socio-economic development, updates to it and the strategy of regional development. The core focus of these policies should be on achieving such strategic goals as improving the quality of life, first of all, keeping the country's population healthy, bringing structural and technological modernization of the economy based on structural shifts and the best available technologies, moving away from the current practice of patching of holes in the form of import substitution to the development of the knowledge economy based on the few existing spots of scientific and technological progress and R&D. Otherwise, the model of accelerated technological backwardness and economic stagnation will be reproduced," told Boris Porfiriyev, Head of the Economics Section of the Department of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the Presidium of the VEO of Russia.

In the context of global transformations, Russian scientists are developing new financial solutions and technologies. For instance, the scientific community has proposed a project to create a two-loop monetary and financial system in Russia.

"The project prepared by a group of researchers at the Innovative Financial Solutions and Technologies Research Institute at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, provides for supporting the national currency through the use, along with gold, of a special basket of goods that have both commodity and monetary properties, the so-called dual goods. These are goods whose prices over long periods of time demonstrate stable relative deviation to the price of monetary gold. These can include wheat, silver, tin, copper, titanium, precious and non-precious metals, coal, uranium, cereals, electricity, petroleum products, liquefied gas, mineral fertilizers and standardized water," explained the First Deputy Chair of the Committee on Budget and Financial Markets Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Vice-President of the VEO of Russia Sergey Ryabukhin.

Chair of the Committee on Financial Markets of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Anatoly Aksakov spoke about the legislative work on the development of the financial market in the context of sanctions.

The Law on Digital Financial Assets came into force on January 1, 2021. The first digital financial assets may launch already this year.

"Three platforms for the issuance of digital financial assets are registered by now. These are Norilsk Nickel, Transmashholding, and Sberbank. Two more platforms are on the way. We expect that the first digital financial assets will be issued this year. Gradually, they will become the basis for financial transactions in the blockchain. One of these companies has registered a platform specifically to see all its business dealings with its partners and business units, including those abroad. In a certain sense, this is an alternative to those financial settlement schemes that today exist and are based on the US dollar, euro or, other currencies," said the Chair of the Committee on Financial Markets of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Anatoly Aksakov.

He confirmed that a draft law on cryptocurrencies is ready for submission. "The bill has not yet been submitted to the State Duma. We are expecting it soon. The government supports legalization and rather strict regulation of this market. As for mining, we agreed that it should be legalized and regulated, among other things in order to regulate energy consumption," Anatoly Aksakov explained.

The crises of the last decade and the transformational processes that we are witnessing today will have significant consequences for the global economy and financial markets. Uncertainty in the global financial system is increasing, according to the Director of the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Golovnin.

Key risks, according to Golovin, include rising commodity prices, which will lead to an acceleration in global inflation and a tightening of monetary policy. Other risks are rising interest rates, and consequently, cost of capital, outflow of capital from emerging economies, and stronger fragmentation processes.

"When countries see that their assets might get frozen, their participation in monopolistic settlement and payment systems threatens the principles of doing business. Alternative systems are likely to form. China has already built its own cross-border settlement system. In this regard, there is a threat to the dominance of the US dollar," said Mikhail Golovnin.

The new geoeconomic reality will lead to the transformation of the Russian oil and gas industry, the forum experts noted. The share of countries that can impose a ban on Russian oil is 60% of Russian oil and gas exports, which means that Russia will have to look for new buyers and build new supply chains to redirect Russian oil to the east, to the Asia-Pacific region, noted the Director of Energy at the Institute of Energy and Finance Alexey Gromov.

This change in logistics is associated with the main challenges for Russian oil and gas companies. The redirection of Russian oil from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region will lead to a doubling of the average delivery time for bulk oil shipments — from 15 to 29 days. Transportation costs and the demand for oil tankers will increase, the expert said.

"The Russian fleet is able to carry 33% of Russian oil and petroleum products by sea (62% of crude oil and 17% of petroleum products). Restrictions on the entry of Russian ships into European ports may become an obstacle," Alexey Gromov added.

The quality of Russian oil and petroleum products can become a significant limiting factor — not every oil refinery in the world is willing to process those, believes the Director of the Institute for Energy Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Filippov.

Speaking about the current state of the Russian energy industry, Filippov noted that, on the one hand, it was developing steadily when the global markets were open and major currency earnings were flowing in, but on the other hand, the high wear and tear and low efficiency of a significant part of the assets, especially thermal power plants and heat supply systems, is still a problem.

"There was a strong dependence on foreign materials, technology, software. Maintenance and repair of imported equipment is outsourced to foreign companies," Sergey Filippov added.

Agriculture has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the Russian economy in recent years, however, in the new geopolitical reality, its growth may slow down. Key risks were named by the Director of the Nikonov Russian National Institute of Agrarian Problems and Informatics, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Presidium of the VEO of Russia Alexander Petrikov.

"Until now, in the development of the agricultural industry, we proceeded from the priority of integrating it not only in the global food and agricultural markets, but also in the global markets for assets for agriculture, forming an overly open agro-industrial industry without due attention to ensuring its self-sufficiency and developing its own technological potential. On the one hand, this allowed us to take advantage of the global division of labor, improve the technological level of the industry, and increase exports. But, on the other hand, openness reduced the stability of the system, increased the risks caused by the volatility of world prices, logistics, political conflicts," believes Petrikov.

Among other strategic risks, according to Alexander Petrikov, is the inadequate level of Russian agricultural science and especially innovation, an unbalanced agrarian structure dominated by large and super-large companies and the insufficient development of medium and small agribusinesses.

These risks necessitate significant changes in the strategy for the development of agriculture and related industries, he concluded.

Speaking about global food security, the Head of the Moscow office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Oleg Kobyakov stressed that the main risks are geopolitical conflicts and extreme weather. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of people in the world facing hunger has doubled. Now the figure is about 193 million people in 50 countries. The situation is most difficult in Yemen, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

"In 2021, conflicts on all continents were the main driver of hunger for 139 million people in 24 countries. This is an increase of almost 40 million compared to 2020," said Kobyakov.

According to Oleg Kobyakov, FAO has proposed the establishment of a food import financing program to help poorer countries cope with the price surge. Among such countries are Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. FAO recommends that the food market players diversify their sources of supply, refrain from politicized opportunistic measures and export restrictions, which can exacerbate food price increases and undermine confidence in world markets.

May 17, 2022

On May 17, plenary conferences were held at Russia's leading universities and research centers — at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation ("Russia's Financial System: Resistance to Global Shocks and Development Priorities"), at the Lomonosov Moscow State University ("Economic Theories in the 21st Century: the Potential for Development and Addressing Practical Challenges" (6th International Political and Economic Congress)), at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia ("Challenges of the Global Transformation in the 21st Century"), at the Moscow Aviation Institute (Youth Conference "Social and Economic Development of Russia: Adapting to a New Reality"), at the Economist House ("Development of Russia's Agro-Industrial Complex Under Sanctions: Risks, Opportunities, Prospects").

The final plenary session of the Forum was held in the Congress Hall of the VEO of Russia. It was moderated by the Head of the Economics Section of the Department of Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Presidium of the VEO of Russia Boris Porfiriev.

Speaking at the final plenary session, Member of the Presidium of the VEO of Russia, First Deputy Chair of the Committee on Education and Science of the State Duma Oleg Smolin noted that for the sustainable socio-economic development of Russia it is important to, first of all, solve the problems of a new industrialization focused on a new technological order, grow investment in human capital, improve the standard of living of Russians, launch scientific and technological projects, including in the field of artificial intelligence, start debureaucratization in the economy.

Among the short-term objectives of economic development Elena Panina, Director of the Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies - RUSSTRAT, named the substitution of critical imports — in particular, finding new suppliers.

In the medium term, according to Elena Panina, in order to replace technological imports, new high-tech industries should be established and the existing ones should be expanded. In the long term, the country faces a global goal of a technological breakthrough.

To solve these problems, it is important to improve the strategic planning system, including radically changing the system for evaluating the performance of strategic planning according to the formula "strategic task — programs — goals — indicators" and formalize it in law, introduce a single center of coordinating state strategic planning.

Academician-Secretary at the Department of Global Issues and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vice-President of the VEO of Russia Alexander Dynkin expressed the opinion that in the current situation existing institutions should be put to work. According to Dynkin, the key to counter-sanctions policy is a rational combination of administrative measures with market incentives.

"It is important to quickly strengthen market incentives through deregulation, simplify the regulatory framework, which in this country is often too focused on maintaining counterbalances. Federal Law 275 should be repealed within a week, which leads to an excessive debt burden on the defense industry. Potentially corrupt chains of endless approvals should be removed from decision-making algorithms to minimize the role of intermediaries in market transactions," explained Dynkin.

As part of the final plenary session's science program, the Director of Research at the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Director of the Higher School of Public Administration at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valery Makarov and the Advisor to the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valery Chichkanov shared their opinions.

Board Chair of the Russian Historical Society, Executive Director of the History of the Fatherland Foundation Konstantin Mogilevsky reminded of the importance of history lessons.

"History is not just a collection of instructive examples, but processes that come from the past, pass through the present, and shape the historical future," said Mogilevsky.

Member of the Presidium of the VEO of Russia, Director of the Nikonov Russian National Institute of Agrarian Problems and Informatics, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, host of the Plenary Conference "Development of Russia's Agro-Industrial Complex Under Sanctions: Risks, Opportunities, Prospects" Alexander Petrikov noted that at the conference, the problems faced by the agro-industrial sector of Russia and the opportunities that open up for the Russian agro-industrial complex in the new geo-economic environment were discussed. These include the strengthening of interaction in the agro-industrial sector with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Community, the potential development of rural areas (according to scientists, people tend to wait out difficult times in the countryside) and, finally, how to maintain the exports.

"Food inflation in the world has forced many countries to abandon their plans to impose increased environmental requirements on their agrarian economy and implement the green agenda, including in agriculture. In this sense, we can win by supplying high-quality food," he explained.

Roman Golov, Presidium Member of the VEO of Russia, Head of the Management and Marketing in High-Tech Industries Department at the Institute of Engineering Economics and Humanities, Moscow Aviation Institute, wrapped up the MAEF Youth Conference titled "Social and Economic Development of Russia: Adapting to a New Reality," which took place at the Moscow Aviation Institute.

"The MAEF Youth Conference is a major event in the economic science. It was held for the third time. More than 550 participants have registered for the event, representing over 60 post-secondary educational institutions and research organizations from Moscow, regions of Russia, and abroad — Belarus, Armenia, and Syria," he said.

The plenary conference "Economic Theories in the 21st Century: the Potential for Development and Addressing Practical Challenges" (6th International Political Economy Congress), held at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, was summed up by the Vice-President of the VEO of Russia, Director of the Center for Contemporary Marxist Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Lomonosov Moscow State University Alexander Buzgalin.

The results of the Moscow Academic Economic Forum are of practical importance. Ideas, expert proposals, voiced at the MAEF, will be submitted to the respective institutions and government bodies.

MAEF-2022 was covered by the general information partner TASS, the official information partner Rossiyskaya Gazeta ("4th Moscow Academic Economic Forum Closed in Moscow", "4th Moscow Academic Economic Forum to Be Held in Moscow", "Future Priorities of Macroeconomic Policy", "President of the Russian Academy of Sciences: In New Reality, We Must Focus on Practical Impact of Science") Public Television of Russia (OTR), web portal Scientific Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, leading TV channels, and other federal and regional media (a complete list of media covering the Forum, including links, will be made available on the MAEF's website).

Final analysis papers of the Forum will be published as part of the MAEF-2022 proceedings — a special issue of the journal "Transactions of the VEO of Russia" (a joint publication of the VEO of Russia, RAS, and IUE), which will be available in open access the MAEF website.

Video streams and reviews of the MAEF events are available on the websites of the MAEF, RAS, VEO of Russia, IUE.