A policy of mass destruction

Mar 29, 2012
Czech privatisation voucher. Credit: Rios via Wikimedia Commons.

A new analysis showing how the radical policies advocated by western economists helped to bankrupt Russia and other former Soviet countries after the Cold War has been released by researchers.

The study, led by academics at the University of Cambridge, is the first to trace a direct link between the mass privatisation programmes adopted by several former Soviet states, and the economic failure and corruption that followed.

Devised principally by western economists, mass privatisation was a radical policy to privatise rapidly large parts of the economies of countries such as Russia during the early 1990s. the policy was pushed heavily by the , the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Its aim was to guarantee a swift transition to capitalism, before Soviet sympathisers could seize back the reins of power.

Instead of the predicted economic boom, what followed in many ex-Communist countries was a severe recession, on a par with the of the United States and Europe in the 1930s. The reasons for and skyrocketing poverty in Eastern Europe, however, have never been fully understood. Nor have researchers been able to explain why this happened in some countries, like Russia, but not in others, such as Estonia.

Some economists argue that mass privatisation would have worked if it had been implemented even more rapidly and extensively. Conversely, others argue that although mass privatisation was the right policy, the initial conditions were not met to make it work well. Further still, some scholars suggest that the real problem had more to do with political reform.

Writing in the new, April issue of the , Lawrence King and David Stuckler from the University of Cambridge and Patrick Hamm, from Harvard University, test for the first time the idea that implementing mass privatisation was linked to worsening , both for individual firms, and entire economies. The more faithfully countries adopted the policy, the more they endured economic crime, corruption and economic failure. This happened, the study argues, because the policy itself undermined the state’s functioning and exposed swathes of the economy to corruption.

The report also carries a warning for the modern age: “Rapid and extensive privatisation is being promoted by some economists to resolve the current debt crises in the West and to help achieve reform in Middle Eastern and North African economies,” said King. “This paper shows that the most radical privatisation programme in history failed the countries it was meant to help. The lessons of unintended consequences in Russia suggest we should proceed with great caution when implementing untested economic reforms.”

Mass privatisation was adopted in about half of former Communist countries after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Sometimes known as “coupon privatisation”, it involved distributing vouchers to ordinary citizens which could then be redeemed as shares in national enterprises. In practice, few people understood the policy and most were desperately poor, so they sold their vouchers as quickly as possible. In countries like Russia, this enabled profiteers to buy up shares and take over large parts of the new private sector.

The researchers argue that mass privatization failed for two main reasons. First, it undermined the state by removing its revenue base – the profits from state-owned enterprises that had existed under Soviet rule – and its ability to regulate the emerging market economy. Second, mass privatization created enterprises devoid of strategic ownership and guidance by opening them up to corrupt owners who stripped assets and failed to develop their firms. “The result was a vicious cycle of a failing state and economy,” King said.

To test this hypothesis, King, Stuckler and Hamm compared the fortunes between 1990 and 2000 of 25 former Communist countries, among them states that mass-privatised and others that did not. World Bank survey data of managers from more than 3,500 firms in 24 post-communist countries was also examined.

The results show a direct and consistent link between mass privatisation, declining state fiscal revenues, and worse economic growth. Between 1990 and 2000, government spending was about 20% lower in mass privatising countries than in those which underwent a steadier form of change. This was the case even after the researchers adjusted for political reforms, other economic reforms, the presence of oil, and other initial transition conditions.

Similarly, mass privatising states experienced an average dip in GDP per capita more than 16% above that of non mass-privatising countries after the programme was implemented.

The analysis of individual firms revealed that among mass-privatising countries, firms privatised to domestic owners had greater risks of economic corruption. Private domestic companies in these were 78% more likely than state-owned companies to resort to barter rather than monetary transactions. This was revealed to be the case after the researchers had corrected the data for firm, market and sector characteristics, as well as the possibility that the worst performing firms were the ones privatised.

The study also revealed that such privatised firms were less likely to pay taxes – a critical factor in ensuring the failure of the policy, which western economists predicted would generate private wealth that could be taxed and ploughed back into the state. However, firms that were privatised to foreign owners were much less likely to engage in barter and accumulate tax arrears.

“Our analysis suggests that when designing economic reforms, especially aiming to develop the private sector, safeguarding government revenues and state capacity should be a priority,” the authors add. “Counting on a future burst of productivity from a restructured, private economy to compensate for declining revenues is a risky proposition.”

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Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (16) Mar 29, 2012
The western economists who brought starvation and near starvation to the Soviet Economies were primarily chosen by the Reagan Administration and where almost exclusively from the same Libertarian economic camp as those who set the U.S. economy on the path of destruction.

At the time there was considerable debate over how damaging the Libertarian economic policies were, with some rational economists going so far as to claim that the policies were a deliberate attempt to destroy the soviet economies so that the nation could not be an economic and military threat to the west.

Given that the current near depression in the U.S. was almost exclusively caused by the Libertarian economic policies of FED Chairman Alan Greenspan, it should be clear to anyone who is capable of rational thought, that Libertarian Economics policies produce disaster no matter where they are implemented.

Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (10) Mar 29, 2012
Our analysis suggests that when designing economic reforms, especially aiming to develop the private sector, safeguarding government revenues and state capacity should be a priority, the authors add.

Compare the above statement with the Libertarian Economic policy - called "Starve the Beast", adopted by key elements of the U.S. Republican party to starve the U.S. government of operating funds though the creation of massive fiscal deficits that have bankrupted the American Nation.

Google "Starve the beast." and then ponder how cutting taxes at a time of massive yearly deficits has increased the U.S. federal debt.

Callippo
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 29, 2012
The problem is, the free-market economy works only in the stable environment of strong legal support, which must be built carefully for years. From AWT model follows, primitive communism society is dual to "laissez-faire" capitalism, they're indistinguishable by the same way like fermion and bosons inside of graviton quantum foam. Free market economy can exist just under strong incubator of government, which carefully removes all weak or strong mutations (a monopolies, for example). Just under these artificial situations market can remain freely driven by supply-demand equilibrium. Nevertheless, despite of its "mass desctruction" effects, the economy of Czech Republic is now in better shape, than the economy of many "traditional" western countries, because we never learned how to spend money in irresponsible way, being poor and frugal all the time.
Callippo
2 / 5 (5) Mar 29, 2012
..to pay taxes is a critical factor .. which ... would generate private wealth that could be taxed and ploughed back into the state..
It brings the perpeetuum mobile on my mind. Not to say, that the paying taxes is the main drain of money for every private wealth.... The authors of this study are apparently the convinced Keynesians..
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (10) Mar 29, 2012
"safeguarding government revenues and state capacity should be a priority, the authors add." "designing economic reforms,"
Russia has no culture of private property rights. They went from being serfs to Soviets, which was no different.
Russians who emigrate to places that do protect individual property rights seem to do quite well.
But it should not be a surprise that the authors would not consider private property rights a factor nor the central planners who 'designed' the economic reforms.
RitchieGuy
2.5 / 5 (10) Mar 29, 2012
""The reasons for economic collapse and skyrocketing poverty in Eastern Europe, however, have never been fully understood. Nor have researchers been able to explain why this happened in some countries, like Russia, but not in others, such as Estonia.""

It did not happen in the Baltic countries such as Estonia because of, mainly, National Pride. That, and the fact that those in the Baltic countries, e.g., suffered greatly under Soviet rule. Too many of their young men and women were conscripted into the Red Army and sent off to die in wars such as in Afghanistan. The people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have not forgotten these things and they have always looked to the West for help, but in spite of never having gotten any help, rallied together in each country and determinedly helped each other to survive. Their leaders just happened to be true patriots and cared about their people and country. They all found ways and they don't tolerate corruption in any form. Measure of success.
RitchieGuy
2.3 / 5 (12) Mar 29, 2012
Venditard says:
Our analysis suggests that when designing economic reforms, especially aiming to develop the private sector, safeguarding government revenues and state capacity should be a priority, the authors add.

Compare the above statement with the Libertarian Economic policy - called "Starve the Beast", adopted by key elements of the U.S. Republican party to starve the U.S. government of operating funds though the creation of massive fiscal deficits that have bankrupted the American Nation.

Google "Starve the beast." and then ponder how cutting taxes at a time of massive yearly deficits has increased the U.S. federal debt.



Obviously, Venditard and possibly all Liberals misjudge and misunderstand the need to slow down government expansion and deficit. It is not a program of "starve the beast". . .it is actually, "Put the Freaking Beast on a Diet" and slim it down.
The problem with NOT putting the gov't beast on a diet is that, after awhile, the beast is hungry for
RitchieGuy
2.3 / 5 (13) Mar 29, 2012
more and more of taxpayer money and other forms of revenue. This hunger is why corporations are being taxed at higher levels with ridiculous rules and regulations, thereby removing wealth that can be used for hiring more employees, i.e., providing jobs in the private sector.
When jobs are lost, the tax revenue from those workers is also lost. And so, the beast tries to think up ways to get that money. . .no matter who gets hurt. But the beast wants to stay in power, so it gives permission to its Immigration agency (ICE) to allow illegals into the country. This ingratiates those illegals who are already here and they vote to keep the beast in the White House and in unelected positions.
The beast is very sly and wise in the ways of gathering its "useful idiots" to its bosom, with promises of free contraception, healthcare, entitlements, and college degrees, etc.
It is a never ending hunger this beast has, and it will consume all the good hardworking people and make them all poor.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (13) Mar 29, 2012
Tard boy loves to change the subject.

The simple facts are that Libertraian economics has been a complete disaster for every nation it has been tried in. It not only brought the Russians to the brink of starvation, it has bankrupted Russia's main competition - America.

"Russia has no culture of private property rights." - RyggTard

Vendicar_Decarian
3.4 / 5 (10) Mar 29, 2012
Quite the contrary. All through the 80's and 90's I have been warning Americans that the Borrow and Spend economic policies of the Republican party, were bankrupting the nation.

Universally those warnings were dismissed by Republicans, and now that their own policies have bankrupted their own nation, they refuse to take responsibility for the results of their own adopted Libertarian idelogy.

"Obviously, Venditard and possibly all Liberals misjudge and misunderstand the need to slow down government expansion and deficit." - RichieTard

Tell us Richie Tard. What is this Republican "Starve the beast" policy that Republicans have literally signed on the dotted line to support?
Vendicar_Decarian
3.2 / 5 (9) Mar 29, 2012
How dare the "beast", as Richie Tard describes his own Government, provide support for students seeking an education.

Like so many Conservatives these days, Richie Tard puts faith in his own perpetually failing political ideology over education and science.

"The beast is very sly and wise in the ways of gathering its "useful idiots" to its bosom, with promises of free contraception, healthcare, entitlements, and college degrees, etc. " - Richie Tard
Gigel
5 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
The fall of Eastern European economies was most probably the very intent of those who advised those countries, esp. the IMF and WB. At the time East Europe was a conglomerate of megacorporation-states which were competing with the West in developing countries' markets. They could have done it even better with some restructuring. The right transition that would have worked well for easterners was a Chinese model transition: slow and under state supervision. It worked in China, it would have worked in Eastern Europe too. But that would have made East Europe an economical power to the detriment of other powers.

After communist economies fell, another process started: the externalisation of western economies towards China. This was again politically driven esp. by WTO, to the ruin of West. Why? A good question everyone should ask. Watch your back.
Roj
4 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2012
The Cambridge study shows a State without revenue that couldn't regulate against corruption, and economic crime prevents capitalism from succeeding.

Corruption between the US Fed and big banks also followed economic collapse shortly after George W. Bush eviscerated the US Attorney General, and office of Inspector General. By firing its investigators & special prosecutors, the last whistle blower or regulator was silenced.

By tolerating corruption, the Bush legacy succeeds in protecting Wallstreet from regulatory oversight; the same way it protects Enron, Worldcom, and all future executives, who with a simple bankrupty filing, may now pillage their employees 401k retirement accounts.

RitchieGuy: they don't tolerate corruption in any form. Measure of success.
Maybe Baltic counties can regulate corruption with national pride, but the west must protect its special prosecutors from branches of Gov. that legislate corruption tolerance.
RitchieGuy
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 30, 2012
As it is happening NOW with the Obama administration, it also happened then, when GWBush was President. Bush, if you remember, was acting on the advisement of his staff such as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. . . .as well as Greenspan and others who gave him faulty advice. He was wrong to follow such destructive advice, but it has been revealed that Bush seemed unable to make his own decisions without feedback from his staff. I believe he was full of himself, just as Obama has been for the past 3 years as President. A president who feeds solely on his own ego is most often unable to determine the proper solution to issues. . .most of all, economic ones. Obama has a huge ego, as did Bush, but whereas Bush listened to advisors who were tight with crony Capitalism, now Obama listens to those whose goal is the destruction of true Capitalism and replace it with something else. True Capitalism has never been implemented in the United States because of corrupt elements in government and elsewhere.
RitchieGuy
1.9 / 5 (8) Mar 30, 2012
National Pride saved the Baltic countries from becoming another Russia. Most of the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians are well educated and very family oriented. Each country takes pride in its CULTURE also.
Business people in those countries are, for the most part, interested in their country's well being and success as a nation. . .not just for each business to take the money and run, as happens a lot in Russia and western nations. The businesses are very much in tune with and tied in with the community and each side helps the other. Communism NEVER worked that way, which is why it failed and will always fail. Soviet Russia had 3 classes of people: the serfs; the bureaucrats; the Politburo or Central Committee. The President and Prime Minister were chosen out of the Central Committee, as I recall. The problem with that system was that the serfs were held down and kept poor and national pride was less evident. The serfs were aware that they were not regarded as anything more than
RitchieGuy
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 30, 2012
slaves and they did not work very hard as was required of them by the Politburo. Those who lived in Moscow and other large cities were usually either business people or part of the bureaucracy or pencil-pushers, etc. and the businesses were always in danger of being shut down. Stores were mostly empty and groceries and other goods were high priced, even if one could find such commodities.
There was no national pride amongst the peasants in Russia; they knew they were Russian, but they also knew to keep their mouth shut. Any dissidents were either executed; forced into a slave labor camp; or committed to a mental institution.
The Baltic states were never like that, even during the Soviet years. They endured Soviet rule, but their National Pride, Culture and sense of Community kept them helping each other. We don't have that in the United States. It's throw money into Education; just don't educate them too much and teach them to be good little Socialists. That's the Obama way.
RitchieGuy
2 / 5 (8) Mar 30, 2012
Venditard says:
Tard boy loves to change the subject.

The simple facts are that Libertraian economics has been a complete disaster for every nation it has been tried in. It not only brought the Russians to the brink of starvation, it has bankrupted Russia's main competition - America.

"Russia has no culture of private property rights." - RyggTard


Venditard likes to jump back and forth between Libertarianism, Republicanism, Randitism, Conservatism and whatever other ism he regards as being against Liberalism, Socialism and Communism.
There is no such thing as "Libertarian Economics".
There is "Crony Capitalism Economics" which is destructive and anti-Capitalist and helps to destroy a people and their country; and there is "True Capitalist Economics" which has yet to be put in practice on a wide scale in the U.S. and other western countries. Then there is the Russian method of Capitalism, in which a successful businessman has to be eliminated because he may become a threat
RitchieGuy
2 / 5 (8) Mar 30, 2012
to those with power in government. . .especially if he is contemplating a run for political office against the Russian President. There are dishonest businessmen in Russia, and there has always been dishonesty in that country. But there are also honest business owners who can now make a living and pay their workers a decent wage and now don't have to resort to blackmarketeering, which often involved the Russian Mafia. If BOTH the U.S. and Russia decided to implement True Capitalistic Economy measures, both countries would be thriving and everyone would have a job.
Corruption in business as well as government corruption would have to be outlawed if a great economy was to be had, but for now, the Obama administration gives a sly wink to both types, and Russia's Putin is too full of himself to improve his country's economy.
Calenur
3 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2012
At times, I really hate being American.
Jimee
3 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2012
The problem is that the Beast is the Conservative party and the oligarchs who wish to destroy America and Americans. All power to the greedy!
mcausal
5 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2012

... and there is "True Capitalist Economics" which has yet to be put in practice on a wide scale...


How would you stop collusive behavior in such a system?
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2012

... and there is "True Capitalist Economics" which has yet to be put in practice on a wide scale...


How would you stop collusive behavior in such a system?

Why would you want to stop if it produced a quality product at lower prices?
There are risks in a free market system for any group trying to fix prices. The best example is OPEC. They collude but they can't force any member or non-member to abide by their quotas.
Only when a govt can interfere and pass laws to protect the colluders, can collusion persist. This occurs with many commodities where the govt fixes prices.
mcausal
5 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2012

Why would you want to stop if it produced a quality product at lower prices?

Because it would do the exact opposite. the incentive is to increase profit! low quality plus high prices = more profit

There are risks in a free market system for any group trying to fix prices. The best example is OPEC. They collude but they can't force any member or non-member to abide by their quotas.

the OPEC members are accountable only to themselves with no law to stop them. so they collude openly.
the US uses their puppet Saudi Arabia to keep prices low. if it would not, prices would explode.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
You don't understand Mcausal....

Under Libertarian Economic Doctrine, Once corporations are unregulated and free to collude against the people, they will no longer be able to do so because... like that there.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
The same way you stop murder in such a system. You criminalize it.

"How would you stop collusive behavior in such a system?" - RyggTard
Blakut
5 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2012
As i grew up in an ex communist state, born during totalitarian regime, saw the revolution when i was 5 and the great economic decline that followed, i can say: democracy and the free market have to be "earned" not given. If you give free market to people who lived in communism, you get mass corruption, poverty. Such transitions have to be slow.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
Because it would do the exact opposite. the incentive is to increase profit! low quality plus high prices = more profit

Not with competition.
Competition prevents collusion.
"Historically, attempts to secure lasting monopolies and sustain monopoly prices through purely market means (price "wars," buying out competitors, colluding to fix prices, assigning market territories, advertising, etc.) ultimately backfired. Because of the lure of greater profits, there was always the temptation by some firms to cheat on collusion arrangements, undercutting the agreed-upon price."
http://www.laisse...poly.htm
As I said, OPEC is a great example. Except now we have the Obama regime trying to limit production to force up the price of oil.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
"After five years of trying to reverse the drop in oil prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said today that the effort had failed and that it had to search for ''a new approach'' or face the possibility of another collapse of prices next year."

http://www.nytime...p;src=pm

It takes govt regulations restricting product and inflation to force the up the price of oil.
The collusion is by the watermelons and socialists.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
"And Belkacem Nabi, Algeria's oil minister, said: ''We have problems of discipline, of quotas, and we must absolutely address them in a fundamental way. It is a situation that makes absolutely no sense. We had designed a system of pricing and production in London in 1983 that has not worked and since then there has been no stability within OPEC.''"
"Nordine Ait-Laoussine, an Algerian oil expert and director of a Geneva-based consulting firm, Nalcosa, said the annoucement was ''an admission that they can no longer defend the $18 anymore,'' referring to the organization's official price. That price is widely ignored by its members, which price their output competitively in attempts to increase their market share."
http://www.nytime...p;src=pm
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 30, 2012
"But for Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, those steep prices arent even a concern. In fact, he says his goal is not to get the price of gasoline to go down.

Chu delivered those stunning remarks in testimony before Congress yesterday. When Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) asked Chu whether its his overall goal to get our price of gasoline lower, Chu said, No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.

As shocking as his remarks are, they shouldnt come as a surprise. Chu has a long record of advocating for higher gas prices. "
http://blog.herit...es-high/
The govt HAS the power to collude.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
Why compete when collusion is more profitable?

"Competition prevents collusion." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
American refineries export gasoline to foreign nations to keep American prices high.

"Obama regime trying to limit production to force up the price of oil." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
RyggTard continues to post nonsense from the Heritage foundation after that Libertarian propaganda group was caught lying about whom it funds, caught red handed trying to convince children that smoking is a "lifestyle choice" and caught red handed trying to create a school curriculum containing lies about Global Warming.

Libertarian/Randite Filth.

"As shocking as his remarks are..." - RyggTard quoting the Heritage Foundation.

Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
The western economists who brought starvation and near starvation to the Soviet Economies were primarily chosen by the Reagan Administration and where almost exclusively from the same Libertarian economic camp as those who set the U.S. economy on the path of destruction.

At the time there was considerable debate over how damaging the Libertarian economic policies were, with some rational economists going so far as to claim that the policies were a deliberate attempt to destroy the soviet economies so that the nation could not be an economic and military threat to the west.

Given that the current near depression in the U.S. was almost exclusively caused by the Libertarian economic policies of FED Chairman Alan Greenspan, it should be clear to anyone who is capable of rational thought, that Libertarian Economics policies produce disaster no matter where they are implemented.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2012
Our analysis suggests that when designing economic reforms, especially aiming to develop the private sector, safeguarding government revenues and state capacity should be a priority, the authors add.

Compare the above statement with the Libertarian Economic policy - called "Starve the Beast", adopted by key elements of the U.S. Republican party to starve the U.S. government of operating funds though the creation of massive fiscal deficits that have bankrupted the American Nation.

Google "Starve the beast." and then ponder how cutting taxes at a time of massive yearly deficits has increased the U.S. federal debt.
AWaB
1 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2012
Nothing makes me happier on this posting board than to give Venditard a 1-star for his ridiculous statements. I am always amazed at his failure to understand a topic in any sort of rational way.
thuber
5 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2012
BS. The soviet system was corrupt, dysfunctional and bankrupt long before the west got involved. The west sold Eastern Europe food for virtually the entire duration of the Soviet Era, without which millions of those living under communism would have starved. But apparently, the authors long for the good old days.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 01, 2012
And don't forget the NYTimes and the Pulitzer committee awarding a prize for Stalin's propagandist, Walter Duranty.

"AT LONG LAST a Pulitzer Prize committee is looking into the possibility that the Pulitzer awarded to Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent whose dispatches covered up Stalin's infamies, might be revoked."
http://www.weekly...wuaz.asp
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2012
Don't hate me because I am vastly smarter than you, AWaB.

"Nothing makes me happier on this posting board than to give Venditard a 1-star for his ridiculous statements." - AWaB
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2012
I think it was very sad that the Kulaks decided to slaughter their animals and burn their seed corn rather than act rationally in a manner that would have avoided starvation.

Oh well. As Donald Rumsfeld said, when people are free, they are free to make bad choices.

"And don't forget the NYTimes and the Pulitzer committee awarding a prize for Stalin's propagandist, Walter Duranty." - RyggTard

Do you think that your Libertarian brother, Rupert Murdoch will ever spend time in jail for the crimes he and his corrupt news publications have committed in the U.K.?

Do you think that he learned to pay hackers to destroy that rival satellite broadcaster from members of the Libertarian CATO institute when he was on the Executive board of that corrupt corporate propaganda organ of the American Corporate Oligarchy?