A provocative event, media, and religious choice in post-Soviet Russia
This paper uses the famous events related to Pussy Riot as a natural experiment to examine the effect of alternative media on church membership. A difference-in-differences strategy is used to explore the effect in question. The hypothesis is that, given a lack of religious background in the majority of the population and strong temporary interest in religious issues promoted by a particular provocative event, mass media substantially affect religious choice. To check if this is the case, I compare the dynamics of religious choice of those exposed to alternative media reports on church topics and the rest of the population. As a proxy of familiarity with an alternative view, I use a dummy variable for using the Internet to obtain news. The main finding is that, during the experiment run over the year 2012, the growth of self-reported Orthodox believers was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the control group. Exposure to alternative media coverage turned out to heavily affect religious choice.
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The article considers the main trends in the contemporary media space and analyzes the coverage of Russia issues in online versions of USA Today and The New York Times. The ideas of M. McLuhan, D. McQuail, J. Van Deijck, M. Castells form the theoretical basis of the research. USA Today and The New York Times provide free access to most of their materials which are available for the computer, Iphone, and Ipad users. Video and slide-shows attract readers from all over the world. Russia became actual theme in 2014 in the US media, but it had been peripheral during the previous decade. Sochi Olympiad, Crimea unification with the RF, conflict in Ukraine, Putin, - those were the main topics of USA Today and The New York Times related to Russia. USA Today's coverage of Russian problems was more neutral and balanced compared to tough rhetoric of The New York Times. At the same time both newspapers view the country as an “alien”, but not an enemy.
The paper examines the structure, governance, and balance sheets of state-controlled banks in Russia, which accounted for over 55 percent of the total assets in the country's banking system in early 2012. The author offers a credible estimate of the size of the country's state banking sector by including banks that are indirectly owned by public organizations. Contrary to some predictions based on the theoretical literature on economic transition, he explains the relatively high profitability and efficiency of Russian state-controlled banks by pointing to their competitive position in such functions as acquisition and disposal of assets on behalf of the government. Also suggested in the paper is a different way of looking at market concentration in Russia (by consolidating the market shares of core state-controlled banks), which produces a picture of a more concentrated market than officially reported. Lastly, one of the author's interesting conclusions is that China provides a better benchmark than the formerly centrally planned economies of Central and Eastern Europe by which to assess the viability of state ownership of banks in Russia and to evaluate the country's banking sector.
The paper examines the principles for the supervision of financial conglomerates proposed by BCBS in the consultative document published in December 2011. Moreover, the article proposes a number of suggestions worked out by the authors within the HSE research team.