The Politics of Greed: How Privatization Structured Politics in Central and Eastern Europe

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Overview

With the dissolution of the Soviet Empire, it seemed that market capitalism had triumphed and that democracy might replace authoritarian regimes. Economic reformers in the former Eastern Bloc rushed to liberalize prices and transfer state assets to private hands. They assumed that private owners in a market setting would have no choice but to behave rationally—that is, to invest in restructuring privatized enterprises so as to maximize profits. They also assumed that these owners would perceive a stable institutional environment as conducive to economic success and thus become a powerful lobby in favor of the rule of law, paving the way for democracy. The post-communist reality turned out to be very different. Private owners found that in a weak state with limited laws and regulations and ineffective corporate governance structures, it was more lucrative to steal enterprise assets and exploit opportunities for arbitrage than to restructure enterprises. The lesson learned is that not all forms of private ownership are the same. As this book's in-depth political history of privatization in Central and Eastern Europe demonstrates, the way that assets are privatized matters, both with respect to national economic performance and the successful development of the rule of law. Andrew Harrison Schwartz had unprecedented access to high-level Czech government officials during the Czech Republic's privatization process. This book is the result of the unique insights he gained and the innovative analytical framework he subsequently developed—ownership regime theory—which for the first time places ownership structures at the center of political transition analysis. Engaging and important, The Politics of Greed applies ownership regime theory to a broad range of post-communist privatization cases, including those of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Russia, and Ukraine.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
Recommended.
Choice
Recommended.
Katharina Pistor
At last, a comprehensive analysis of the long-term effects privatization policies have had on the politics, society, and economics of transition economies. Focusing on the Czech Republic, The Politics of Greed convincingly argues that while initial conditions are important, how policies were chosen and implemented has had profound implications not only for enterprise restructuring and corporate governance, but for democracy and the rule of law. A must-read for all observers of the transition process and future policy makers, and a powerful rebuke of the 'the end justifies all means' attitude that has guided so many policies in the early 1990s.
Gerald A. McDermott
Among the throngs of researchers in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, Andy Schwartz stood out with his unique combination of a careful understanding of regional privatization strategies and incomparable insight into the realities of high-powered financial markets. These assets become evident in this book, as the research produces an original, powerful argument about the roles of ideology and distributional politics in the construction of economic institutions. The empirics and framework are cold reminders of the foolhardy attempts to create markets without institutions and are useful analytical tools for students of privatization, corporate governance, and institutional reform.
Slavic Review, Spring 2009 - Terry Cox
...Important contribution.... Thorough critique.... Intimate knowledge of events and debates...
Mitchell Orenstein
Schwartz's book is a landmark in the study of Central European transitions. It develops a unique political economy approach to transition studies, arguing that privatization was the central process of transition and showing that the ways that privatization was conducted in each country have left lasting legacies for postcommunist politics and economics. Schwartz lambasts the unintended consequences of neoliberal privatization strategies and paints a sharp picture of what Central European capitalisms are really like.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742553088
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/12/2006
  • Series: World Social Change Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Harrison Schwartz (1957–2004) was research associate at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE). John Zysman is codirector of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE).

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Prologue Chapter 2 Foreword Chapter 3 Introduction Part 4 Markets, Democracy, and Privatization-The Theoretical Argument Chapter 5 Neoliberal Privatization-The Dream That if You Create Private Owners, Democracy and the Market Economy Will Follow Chapter 6 Institutional Policy Design, Politics, and the Creation of Capitalism Chapter 7 Ownership Regimes-The Basic Model of How They Form Chapter 8 The Two Trajectories of Ownership Regime Evolution Part 9 Czech Privatization as the Illustrative Case of the Ownership Model of Political Economy Chapter 10 Elite Approval-November 1989 to May 1990 Chapter 11 Legimating the Giveaway-June 1990 to February 1991 Chapter 12 Creating Plutocracy-February 1991 to May 1992 Chapter 13 Implementing the Ownership Regime-February 1991 to December 1995 Chapter 14 The Abuses of Plutocracy, the Failure of Czech Neoliberalism-January 1996 to December 1997 Chapter 15 Political and Economic Implications of Czech Rapid Privatization Part 16 Conclusion-Ownership Regime Theory in Comparative Perspective Chapter 17 Plutocracy Escaped, Plutocracy Avoided, Plutocracy Embedded

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