Donald Trump thinks that Vladimir Putin is a "strong" leader, but that strength hasn't done much good for Russia's economy.
"The man has very strong control over a country," Trump said Wednesday of Putin, adding that the Russian president has "been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader." Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, said on Thursday that it's "inarguable" that Putin is a "stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country."
While the United States and Europe continue to eke out a steady economic recovery, very little is going right for Russia. Gross domestic product in Russia cratered from $2.23 trillion in 2013 to $1.33 trillion last year — a staggering 40-percent drop, according to figures from the World Bank.
To put that in perspective, U.S. GDP shrank at the onset of the Great Recession from $14.719 trillion in 2008 to $14.419 trillion in 2009 — a decline of 2 percent.
Russian economic output is expected to contract by another 1.8 percent in 2016, while the poverty rate is seen rising from 13.4 percent to 14.2 percent over that period, the World Bank says.
Russia has been crushed by Western sanctions and the global plunge in oil prices. The sanctions were brought down on Russia by President Obama and America's European allies following Russia's annexation of Crimea, in 2014. And Russia is essentially what political scientists call a "petrostate" — dependent, like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, on oil exports in order to remain solvent. As long as commodities lag, so does the Russian economy.