Highway and Byways: Studies on Reform and Postcommunist Transition

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Overview

Hungarian economist János Kornai first used the metaphor of a single path to postsocialist transition in his earlier book, The Road to a Free Economy. The new metaphor that frames this collection of recent studies reflects a broader perspective and understanding of the complexities of transition: every highway and byway leads eventually to capitalism, Kornai observes, but to what kind, how fast,and at what cost? Who wins and who loses? Kornai draws from his experiences of Hungarian reform as well as from countries of the former Soviet Union to make several major points. The first three studies describe what went wrong in countries that tried to mix elements of planned and market economies. Efforts made by communist countries to introduce market socialism (the "middle road") contained an inherent contradiction between the logic of socialism and the logic of a free enterprise system, and were doomed to failure.In the studies that follow, Kornai analyzes the ongoing dilemmas. The transition from communism to free enterprise is filled with daunting hurdles; it requires no less than redefining ownership,changing values concerning the distribution of wealth, transferring the control of political power, creating financial institutions and enforcing financial discipline,and making deep economic sacrifice. Kornai closes with an overall survey of postsocialist transition, describing the stages that countries tend to go through,that will be particuarly useful to scholars of comparative economic systems.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Kornai (economics, Harvard U.) explains what went wrong in countries that tried to mix elements of planned and market economies, drawing on experiences of reform in Hungary and countries in the former Soviet Union. He discusses the inherent contradictions in market socialism, analyzes the on-going dilemmas of the transition from communism to free enterprise, and describes the stages of postsocialist transition. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262111980
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 11/22/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

János Kornai is Permanent Fellow, Emeritus, at Collegium Budapest Institute for Advanced Study, Allie S. Freed Professor of Economics Emeritus at Harvard University, and Distinguished Research Professor at Central European University. He is the author of many other books, including Contradictions and Dilemmas: Studies on the Socialist Economy and Society (1986) and Highway and Byways: Studies on Reform and Postcommunist Transition (1994), both published by The MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Market Socialism Revisited 1
2 The Affinity between Ownership Forms and Coordination Mechanisms 35
3 The Soviet Union's Road to a Free Economy: Comments of an Outside Observer 57
4 The Principles of Privatization in Eastern Europe 79
5 The Postsocialist Transition and the State: Reflections in the Light of Hungarian Fiscal Problems 107
6 The Evolution of Financial Discipline under the Postsocialist System 141
7 Transformational Recession: A General Phenomenon Examined through the Example of Hungary's Development 161
8 Postsocialist Transition: An Overall Survey 209
Appendix: The Antecedents of the Studies and Their Places of First Publication 229
Subject Index 233
Author Index 239
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