Eastern Europe in the World Economy

Eastern Europe in the World Economy

This volume, one of the few monographs published by citizens of Central and Eastern Europe at a leading Western publisher before the wholesale change of the regime was complete, was concluded in the fall of 1988. Economic foundations of the Soviet Empire were already shown to have been shaken, however its political construct looked sustainable. In this context only slow and gradual change was conceivable, along the lines of Finlandization, not however the actual collapse of the 1989-91 period. Under these circumstances the book, substantially revised from the 1984 Hungarian predecessor, and expanded by about 40 per cent by more recent analyses, focused on giving a detailed account of the stagnation and unsuccessful reform and adjustment attempts all across the 1980s, paving the way to decay.

Analyses of ossification and non-reformability of the Eastern trading bloc Comecon was compemented with the study of inward looking attempts of the Gorbachev period /following the old Russian tradition of opening to the West while closing the ranks domestically/. The book showed: while these inward looking projects were bound to fail. The policy of growth acceleration has deepened disequilibria and opened the drift wide between global military and political ambitions on the one hand, and the actual performance of the Soviet economy on the other. A special chapter is devoted to the assessment of the perestroika reforms at their prime time, indicating those weaknesses, that rendered these lagging, in theoretical radicality, behind the 1953/1957/1966 Hungarian reforms, themselves provenly inadequate. In sum, too little and too late was dooming the fate of Gorbachev.

This assessment was completed by two new chapters devoted to reform attempts in the Eastern bloc. These proved that the institutional changes have not provided a solid base for inward loking strategies. Second, these also fell short of allowing for creating a market for Eastern markets. Therefore a further radicalization of Hungarian reforms by definition implied and required a reorientation of commercial relations to the west as one of the basic preconditions to succeed, even short of political collapse.

A lasting value of the volume is a detailed account of reform endeavors of the 1980s, not very well documented ever since in the international literature.It has proven, on emprical grounds, the non-reformability of the régime. It has also unmasked: there was a world of difference between discourse and reality of Gorbachevian reforms. It is a documentation of a lost decade, akin to Latin Americaís. It has proven that opening up to the world economy and radical market refotrms are intertwined and needed if stagnation was to be overome. This finding was based on autochtonous analyses of local statistics and local sources, not an intellectual import from the West. Even its arduous road to eventual publication in the West preceeded the very coining of what was later termed as the Washington Consensus.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Year: 1990

Number of pages: 403

ISBN: 0 521 33426 8


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Eastern Europe in the World Economy