Putin pokes fun at US budget deficit
Vladimir Putin on Wednesday needled the United States for running an outsized budget deficit and running deep into debt in comments touting his own economic achievement as Russian prime minister.
"Look at their trade balance, look at the budget deficit, at the debt of the United States," Russia's de facto leader said in closing comments to his annual address to parliament.
"We have none of that -- and, I hope, we never will," Putin said to a strong round of applause.
"But then they have things easier. They just turn on the printing presses," Putin said, accusing Washington of "behaving like a hooligan" by flooding world markets with devalued dollars.
"I hope that we will continue strengthening our national currency, making it into a reserve (currency) for our region," he added.
Putin's comments came at the end of a three-hour appearance in which he touted his achievements amid growing speculation that he plans to return to the Kremlin next year after ceding the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev in 2008.
Rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded its outlook on US long-term debt to 'negative' from 'stable' earlier this week, its first ever such move on the US government which sparked huge losses on the markets as investors fretted over how and if Washington can stabilise the strained public finances.
© 2011 AFP