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A Chronology of Reform. Economic Reform of the Late XXth Century: Lessons and Experience from the Recent History

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 01-03-2012
Мир России. 2012.  Т. 21. № 1. С. 11-23. 
Тематические разделы:
The reform of the 1990s is commonly evaluated from the standpoint of economic growth. In this article the author, who was, in fact, a direct participant of those events and one of the designers of the reform, discusses it in the context of institutional building and, particularly, develops the idea that decisions taken at the earlier stage of transformation affected the very foundations of society and thus predetermined the following sequence of events, as well as particular course of evolution of institutions. The more the country is involved in transformation, the more inertial its development gets, and the more power emerging institutions and interest groups accumulate. The reform of the 1990s and the reform of 2000s are two essentially different stories: they have different targets, yet similar goals. In the first case, the foundations of society are changed and primary economic institutions are formed; and the second case is an attempt to influence these institutions. The author tries to reconstruct the sequence of events in the 1990s by suggesting his own periodization, and highlights the most interesting details of the situation, in which Perestroika began. He also analyzes the circumstances, in which different programmes were developed and adopted, as well as their major consequences (default, the development of situation the in 2000s). Prior to the beginning of Russian transformation there was a fierce discussion as to which measures should be taken first – macrostabilization, liberalization and opening of the foreign trade or privatization. The problem of building market institutions was, of course, insufficiently covered in the academic media of that time. The general prevalence of macroeconomists created a strange impression among experts that the primary task is macrostabilization, since everything else would follow and should resolve by itself. It was only ten years later that the discussion has been redirected towards institutionalism and the problem of institutions and liberalization in general. The situation of the 1990s has been vastly influenced by the two legal acts, which have been introduced earlier, i.e. ‘Law on State Enterprise’ and ‘Law on Cooperatives’. In theory of property rights what this means is that managers of state-owned enterprises were allowed to control and dispose property without being accountable to the state. I.e. this has led to a process of latent privatization of state property by its managers. By ‘switching off’ the monitoring agent such as the state corruption was doomed to flourish. Being an absolute opponent to how the privatization was actually carried out the author claims that the major mistake was an excessive de-specification of property rights at the cost of its pace. And it was exactly this moment of the reform that shaped the particularities of the national economy, economic and political institutions, private property and corporate management for the years to come. It is important, in author’s view, to understand that current capitalism in Russia has been shaped exactly in 1992-1994, during that 3-4-year period of hyperinflation, privatization and the issuing of the first laws. All that happened afterwards was influenced by particular property relations and corporate control from the most powerful interest groups, which won their first round at the very beginning. And today any further policy, be it right or wrong, can only be carried out by accounting for these interests. Since 1994-1996 there is no room for reform from the scratch. It is now a problem seriously constrained by existing interest groups. In the last two-three years it has become clear that the problem of country’s development (i.e. infrastructure, education, innovation, etc.) cannot be solved by themselves even with favorable world prices for oil. The new challenge is to find new ways of development under the circumstances of growing bureaucracy.
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