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US-Russia Business Council's 21st Annual Meeting, Oct 28-30, 2013

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The US-Russia Business Council had their annual meeting in Houston recently, held at the Four Seasons Hotel (see slideshow). It was an event loaded with experienced dignitaries, including a presentation by former Secretary of State, James Baker. A wide range of topics were discussed. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

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* Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, stated that the Russian economy is extremely vibrant and is a rich field for investment - pointing out that Russia has very little debt. He added that Russia's oil and gas market is exceptionally strong. As a side note, it must be mentioned that the Houston Business Journal recently reported that the US will most likely be the world's largest producer of oil and gas by the end of 2013 ("Debate Emerges Over Whether Shale Oil Boom Will Bust", by Deon Daugherty, HBJ, October 18-24, 2013).

* Nataly Nikolaeva, Acting President of ZAO Citibank, points out that the Russian stock exchange is healthy and has a bright future. She did mention one caveat: the Russian stock market is currently using domestic definitions, policies, and standards for financial markets; and that it must convert to international standards.

* David Melik-Guseynov, Director, Center for Social Economics, says that Russia is looking into alternative healthcare systems, some of which appear to be variations of Obamacare. David states that any government aided healthcare sysem in Russia is going to be dependent upon strong revenues entering Russia's economy, and presently oil and gas profits are a huge chunk of those revenues.

As a closing note, I want to say that when I heard David Melik-Guseynov's presentation, I was bewildered. I was incapable of comprehending that the healthcare problems we are facing here in the USA are present elsewhere too. Nevertheless, it is true.

In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Thomas Lee report, "In health care, the days of business as usual are over. Around the world, every health care system is struggling with rising costs and uneven quality despite the hard work of well-intentioned, well-trained clinicians. Health care leaders and policy makers have tried countless incremental fixes - attacking fraud, reducing errors, enforcing practice guidlines, making patients better 'consumers', implementing electronic medical records - but none have had much impact" ("The Strategy That WIll Fix Health Care", HBR, October, 2013).

Richard Carranza, richard_carranza@msn.com, www.richardcarranza.com

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