By Jason Bush
SLOWING ECONOMY. In truth, investors in Russia don't necessarily mind Putin's autocratic ways. In fact many believed that more power for Putin might kick-start economic reforms. But here too, the predictions have proved wrong. Key Putin policies such as calls to restructure Russia's giant and inefficient state monopolies, overhaul the pension system, and slash bureaucracy have been blocked from within the government, the bureaucracy, and even the Kremlin itself.
Although dominated by Putin's supporters, the parliament has busied itself with laws that are irrelevant to economic reform: banning citizens from drinking beer in public, for instanc