A Normal Country: Russia after Communism / Edition 1

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Russia's historic transition from communism in the 1990s sparked intense, often ideological debates. This book offers a firsthand glimpse into the intellectual challenges that Russia's turbulent transition generated. It deals with many of the most important reforms, from Gorbachev's half-hearted "perestroika," to the mass privatization program, to the efforts to build legal and regulatory institutions of a market economy. The essays in this book attempt to identify the driving forces of Russia's rapidly changing economic and social reality.

To understand Yeltsin's reforms, the book argues, it is essential to grasp their twin goals of destroying the remnants of the communist order and building the institutions of a market economy. Time after time, reforms were shaped to assure that communism, with its overwhelming control of the economy and society, the planning ministries, and pervasive centralization, cannot come back to Russia. Many of the successes, as well as the pathologies, of the Russian economy during the 1990s must be understood from this perspective. Despite many setbacks, Yeltsin succeeded in his life's mission. By the end of the twentieth century, both a market economy and a democracy were developed in Russia. Each was both vulnerable and flawed, but the escape from communism was certain. A decade after communism, Russia became a normal country.

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Editorial Reviews

Anders Åslund
A Normal Country will have a substantial effect on the scholarly perception of Russia's postcommunist economic transformation.
Michael McFaul
Andrei Shleifer's A Normal Country brings together in one volume his influential and controversial set of arguments about Russia's postcommunist transformation. As an advisor to the Russian government in the 1990s, Shleifer helped to make history. This book now helps to frame the debate about that history - essential reading for any student of transitional economies.
Foreign Affairs
Normal is not the word most people would use for Russia, but Shleifer means by it two things: no longer communist and boasting a "democratic market economy." Russia may be "highly imperfect" as both a democracy and a market, but the same, he says, is true of other "normal" (middle-income) countries, such as Brazil, Malaysia, and Mexico. In this series of essays, Shleifer insists that the reforms of the 1990s succeeded in the two most essential respects: destroying stubbornly resistant communist institutions and making markets the arbiter of economic activity. For all the missteps and half steps, Yeltsin and his young allies got it right: they were correct to see the elimination of old economic and political institutions as a prerequisite for all else; to recognize that institutions must develop in tandem with economic activity, not before, in a pro forma and easily corrupted fashion; and to resist relying on the state — a misshapen and ill-inspired state — to drive the reform. Time will tell whether Shleifer is correct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674015821
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrei Shleifer is Professor of Economics at Harvard University.
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Table of Contents

1. Russia after Communism

2. The Transition to a Market Economy: Pitfalls of Partial Reform

3. Privatizing Russia

4. How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops

5. Origins of Bad Policies: Control, Corruption, and Confusion

6. The Invisible Hand and the Grabbing Hand

7. The Unofficial Economy in Transition

8. Toward a Theory of Legal Reform

9. Federalism with and without Political Centralization: China versus Russia

10. A Normal Country




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