The last few years have been propitious for emerging economies. As the U.S. and Europe struggled to recover from the deep, self-inflicted wounds of the financial crisis, emerging economies around the world boomed and took on bigger and more important roles in the global economy. During the first quarter, for example, China attracted $95.9 billion in foreign investment, despite the imposition of capital controls that were designed to slow the flood of money.

And then, there’s Russia.

Even as the price of commodities soared during the first quarter, oil and resource-rich Russia was hit by a wave of capital flight. An estimated $25 billion in capital left Russia during the first quarter, according to Alexander Perjéssy, senior economist with asset manager AllianceBernstein. “Capital flight is still a problem in Russia, even though the country has benefited from higher commodities prices. The rates of return are just too low,” he said.

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As other emerging economies have pulled ahead, Russia remains stuck with relatively slow growth and overexposure to the volatile commodities sector. Perjéssy expects the Russian economy to grow 5.2 percent this year. That is up from a disappointing 4 percent in 2010, thanks to the boom in the price of oil and other resources. But it is well below the pace of growth in China, which is forecasted by China’s CICC investment bank to grow 9 percent this year.

Meanwhile, inflation in Russia is 9.7 percent, according to Perjéssy. That is much higher than inflation in China, which CICC estimates at 5.4 percent.

As global growth slows and the boom in commodity prices ebbs with it, there is little reason to expect Russian growth to pick up. Having failed to take full advantage of the growth of the last two years, it is now vulnerable to a deceleration of the global economy.

One reason that China continues to attract capital: a high rate of return in the fixed income area. The country’s central bank is aggressively raising rates. The opposite is true in Russia, where the overnight borrowing rate is 3.5 percent. Considering the nation’s high rate of inflation, real interest rates in Russia are negative. The spread on a basket of Russian debt is 215 basis points above the JP Morgan Emerging Market Bond Index-Global. The spread on Brazil’s debt is 179 and China’s is just 166.