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If oil hits $75-80, Aslund said "Russia would have to cut its imports, which would hit the standard of living, investment and economic growth. A decline in GDP and standard of living would be inevitable."

Besides oil and the oil wealth stash, Russia has precious little.

What does that mean?

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The phrase "precious little" means to have very little/very few left.

precious little (or few)

extremely little or few (used for emphasis):
"police still know precious little about the dead man"

Collins describes "precious little" this way:

If you say that there is precious little of something, you are emphasizing that there is very little of it, and that it would be better if there were more.

An example from the same source:

The banks have had precious little to celebrate recently.

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Precious little means very little. Russia will have very little left to live on if its oil revenues slump and its oil-based capital wears out.

See the adverbial sense of precious at Wiktionary:

precious (not comparable)
Used as an intensifier.
There is precious little we can do.

In other words, "All we've got is cotton, slaves and arrogance."

  • 1
    +1 this is new to me . I always used pretty in such case. Thanks :) – Maulik V Aug 1 '14 at 6:07

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