But is he on time for low status people?

by on November 27, 2013 at 7:46 am in Games, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Uncategorized | Permalink

Being 50 minutes late for his first meeting with Pope Francis was nothing unusual for Russian President Vladimir Putin. That’s just the way he is — a character trait that provides some insight into his attitude toward power.

When Putin arrived on time to an audience with Pope John Paul II in 2003, the punctuality was considered a newsworthy aberration: “The President Was Not Even a Second Late,” read the headline in the newspaper Izvestia. He had been 15 minutes late for a similar audience in 2000.

The waits other leaders have had to endure in order to see Putin range from 14 minutes for the Queen of England to three hours for Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister. Few people are as important in terms of protocol as the queen or the pope, and there is no country Putin likes to humiliate as much as Ukraine.

The typical delay seems to be about 30 minutes. Half an hour is enough in some cultures to make people mad. Koreans saw Putin’s 30-minute lateness for a meeting with their President Park Geun Hye as a sign of disrespect.

Everybody endures the wait, though.

There is more here, hat tip to Elizabeth Dickinson.

1 Ray Lopez November 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Russia inherited the Byzantine culture of Byzantium, so this lateness trait is known as “Greek Time”. Nobody is ever on time for anything in Greece, and friends are not expected to show up on time. By contrast, showing up on time is called “English Time” by the Greeks. The economics historian David Landes would consider punctuality one of the conditions for success in a culture, along with the screw (mechanical!), time piece, and coal (as in King Coal). Also the absence of the three Estates in the UK as opposed to France and lively middle class is mentioned in his excellent tome “Wealth Poverty Nations”.

2 Z November 27, 2013 at 8:16 am

In the ghettos this is referred to as CPT.

3 Michael November 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

Don’t leave us hanging–what does CPT stand for?

4 Dan Weber November 27, 2013 at 8:52 am

I will save you from getting fired for googling this at work:


5 prior probability November 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

aka “Puerto Rico time” (when I lived on the Island, social events scheduled for 8pm really began around 9 or even later)

Also, what a jerk-off !!! But at the same time, this problem (waiting for Putin to show up) is of a “reciprocal nature” — to borrow Coase’s felicitous phrase … since the world leaders who want to meet with him are willing to put up with his bullshit … next time, the pope, or the queen, or whoever, should not let him in if he arrives more than, say, 5 or 6 minutes late

6 Rahul November 27, 2013 at 8:13 am

Surprising that everybody endures the wait. Even the US? How late was he for US meetings? No precedent of someone having left annoyed by his tardiness?

7 Trimegistus November 27, 2013 at 8:15 am

Vladimir Putin has made himself the most important man in the world, mostly by acting like he’s the most important man in the world.

8 Z November 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

That and a clear understanding that energy is the real currency of the world.

9 Jan November 27, 2013 at 9:47 am

Wheel of Fortune is a great book on the evolution of the oil and gas industry’s role in Russian economics/law/politics/everything.

10 Rahul November 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

How behaves the Norwegian head of state?

11 prior_approval November 27, 2013 at 11:27 am

She’s probably fairly punctual – Norwegians generally are. Much like the Danes or the Swedes tend to be on time – though without making a fetish of it, like the Swiss.

12 Z November 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

As far as northern European people, the Nords are the straight-laced responsible brother and the Russians are the drunken brother who hangs out at the track.

13 Rahul November 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Ergo, perhaps it’s more about culture than energy.

14 Alexei Sadeski November 27, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I don’t think so.

15 Millian November 27, 2013 at 11:21 am

He is not the most important man in the world. Nobody listens to him, except those who would freeze to death without his gas, but they live in middle-income, unimportant countries. He is the most paper-tiger of world leaders, over-rated in his power thanks to good PR.

16 Finch November 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

He seems to have thoroughly dominated the US in the recent Mideast interactions over Syria and Iran. Putin won, we lost.

17 Bavery November 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

I know – the US was really pulling for Syria to keep those chemical weapons. Shame they’re being destroyed.

18 TMC November 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

If you judge people on their actions, then you are probably right.
I’d put it up to incompetence though. Occam’s Razor and all.

19 The Anti-Gnostic November 28, 2013 at 11:23 am

The US did not care in the slightest about Syria’s purported use of its decomposing chemical weapons stock by its barely competent army. The US wanted a casus belli, and Bashar and Putin took it from them in one elegant parry. It was masterful diplomacy and way over the heads of the blind ideologues who dominate US foreign policy.

20 Andres November 28, 2013 at 7:05 am

Millian, do not underestimate Russia. Remember the saying: “Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks”

21 Michael November 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

The Koreans see everything as a sign of disrespect, so that doesn’t mean much.

I really want to know how late he is for meetings with U.S. dignitaries, including and especially the president.

22 Todd November 27, 2013 at 8:32 am

“World leaders arrived Thursday for a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin where they would discuss the crisis in Syria, with US President Barack Obama showing up alone and well after the main group.

The main group of leaders led by Putin arrived together at the historic Peterhof palace outside Saint Petersburg, with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande seen talking animatedly at the back of the pack.

But Obama was nowhere to be seen and only arrived at the palace a good half an hour after the rest.”

23 Michael November 27, 2013 at 8:41 am

Thanks–where is that from? I can’t find it in the Bloomberg article linked.

24 Todd November 27, 2013 at 8:48 am
25 libert December 1, 2013 at 12:04 am

Nice! Obama out bad-assed Putin!

26 Ryan November 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

I have friends that are always late. We simply tell them to be there 15-30 minutes before we even want them to show up. It would be funny to see ol’ Vlad walk into an empty room, but the same could be done to address his chronic tardiness.

27 Ted Craig November 27, 2013 at 8:32 am

It’s not just Putin. Obama is always late, and Clinton was, as well.

28 Dan Weber November 27, 2013 at 8:53 am

If you are President, your time is valuable. Showing up first wastes your time. You want the meeting to start as soon as you walk in the door.

29 chuck martel November 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

Doesn’t that give the other players in Obama’s pick-up basketball games an advantage in warm-up time? What’s his scoring average anyway? Is there any youtube of the Barack jumpshot? How often is a foul called on Barack?

30 mike November 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm
31 Ted Craig November 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

It depends. Bush was always on time.

32 ummm November 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

sounds like a game theory problem where both sites have to decide how early/late to be

33 Rusty Synapses November 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

I have done a lot of tech deals (in Silicon Valley and elsewhere). In tech, some people are punctual and some are late, but it’s not usually a status thing (sometimes the higher “status” person (CEO, etc.) is very busy so their schedule is tighter, but sometimes a tech gazillionaire has a very comfortable schedule and is first to arrive). In the dot com era, I did lots of tech/content deals between Silicon Valley and well-known entertainment industry names (directors, producers, actors). I was surprised to find out that in the entertainment industry, whenever there was a conference call, all of the assistants of the Hollywood people would get on the line, then ask if everyone else was on the phone yet – because their boss didn’t want to get on the phone (or they didn’t want to put their boss on the phone) until everyone else was on. Of course, it makes it hard to get started when everyone wants to be last. It was really funny – the assistants asking over and over “is everyone on yet” – usually it worked itself out (in my untrained view, often in the pecking order), but not without a lot of back and forth.

34 Rahul November 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

My HMO person told me that’s why my doctors always make me wait. Their time is valuable so they always try to keep the pipeline (i.e. waiting room) full. They said that’s also why they have a 1 month wait for a dental check up appointment.

I didn’t like that explanation much.

35 Finch November 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

I sometimes cite the parking lot theory of customer importance. At the mall, the employee parking is far away and the customers park close. At the hospital, the employee parking is close and the customers park far away. Less competitive industries keep more of the surplus for themselves.

36 TomHynes November 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I like your theory. To find out the purpose of an organization, look to see who has the best parking spaces. If it is government, the bureaucrats get the spot. Even in a private college, faculty parking is nicer than student parking.

37 chuck martel November 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm

In US culture, the most significant daily goal, the one that supersedes all others, is parking as near as possible to one’s ultimate destination. This is even the case with fitness center customers, who don’t wish to walk any further than necessary to get to the treadmills.

38 Ted Craig November 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

If it makes you feel better, our doctor said he’s always late because of “doorknob questions.” A guy comes in for a pain in his big toe, but when the doctor finished the exam and reaches for the doorknob, he says, “By the way, do you have any idea why I have been throwing up blood every morning for the past two weeks?”

39 Thor November 27, 2013 at 11:34 am

Clinton was playing cards! (This is a plus, in my book.)

40 Tarrou November 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

From my time in Russia (’92-’95) I can say no one in that country is on time to anything. In fact, it is rude at worst and silly at best to be on time. It implies that you think you are so important that someone else would be scared to not be on time. One is reminded of Captain Reneau’s conversation in “Casablanca”: “Captain, I’ll be in your office at eight tomorrow!” “Excellent, I’ll be there at ten!”.

41 A Definite beta Guy November 27, 2013 at 9:04 am

Hey, better than not showing up at all, right?

42 Eric Falkenstein November 27, 2013 at 9:10 am

Putin repeatedly acts like a teenager, playing status-signaling games, taking personal offense. He’s definitely an old-school potentate, without the comfort of entitlement.

43 ummm November 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

in the case of obama, no amount of punctuality would make foreign leaders want to meet him lol

bitcoins & stocks..they are up again this morning like clockwork

44 Guest November 27, 2013 at 9:29 am

Now we get CNBC updates in the AM as well as the PM? Awesome!!! How high will Bitcoins go? I know a guy who bought some at $10.

45 Nyongesa November 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Talking of terrible signals, these constant snipes at Obama, that are not based on any substantive argument, reflects the decay of commentary on this site, which used to feature decent back and forth discussion. Just signaling political mood affiliation without any compulsion to put forth supporting arguments, signals the hoi poloi and are now ascendant at MR. Notably almost none of the earlier commenters are left.

46 athEIst November 27, 2013 at 10:14 am

no country Putin likes to humiliate as much as Ukraine.
Uncle Joe starved a couple million Ukranians to death. Now that’s humiliation.

47 dearieme November 27, 2013 at 10:43 am

Am I alone in finding Mr Putin rather camp?

48 Thor November 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

He camps in Georgia.

49 athEIst November 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm

HA HA He decamps there too.

50 The Anti-Gnostic November 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

Putin stronk. Putin camp barechested in the snow.

51 Twitter Password Hack November 27, 2013 at 10:55 am

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52 Bill November 27, 2013 at 11:23 am

For being late to see the Pope,

Say three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys,


Go in Peace

53 JWatts November 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm

How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?

54 read your history November 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm

The pope may have no divisions today, in the past, he commanded a great many. I for one would not like to repeat a time when the pope commanded real military power.

And you are not wrong to point out that without the ability to threaten people in a realpolitik manner that what folks think of them may not matter a great deal.

Having said that, if the pope wanted you dead for example, really wanted you dead, you WOULD be dead.

55 chuck martel November 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

Do you suppose that Pope Leo X would have used atomic weapons on Luther and Wittenberg if he had possessed them?

56 Hugh November 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

There was a part in the Starr Report that mentioned that Clinton was into analingus in the White House with Monica, though I can’t remember if he was into giving or receiving or both. Lots of people don’t know about this.

57 JW November 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm

what does this have to do with putin’s timeliness?

58 geoeconomics November 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Maybe he means have some perspective.

59 Douglas Knight November 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm

The best stuff is always buried in the footnotes.

60 Andreas Moser November 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I don’t mind people being late. I always carry something to read with me. The later someone is, the more I get to read. But I finish the meeting on time.

61 Bill November 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Do you think Putin’s tardiness is calculated to make an impression, or he just doesn’t care and only shows up on time when he really must?

62 josieB November 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm

England’s Daily Mail reported that Putin made John Kerry wait three hours at the Kremlin last May.

Great guy, that Vlad.

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