Policy Seminar on the Post-Socialist Transition in Comparative Perspective

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Room 330, Herbert Hoover Memorial Building


Leszek Balcerowicz, Ewa Balcerowicz, Michael Boskin, Darrell Duffie, Bob Hall, Pete Klenow, Ed Lazear, Monika Piazzesi, Martin Schneider, Ken Scott, Maciej Siekierski, John Taylor, Johannes Stroebel, Mark Hafstead, Tim Landvoigt, Krishna Rao, Juliana Salomao, Edison Yu.


Leszek Balcerowicz, former Finance Minister and Central Bank President of Poland, shared with the group his perspective on different paths for post-socialist transitions in Central and Eastern Europe. He began by outlining how economic outcomes as well as non-economic outcomes such as life-expectancy have diverged for different former Socialist countries since the fall of the Soviet Union. Balcerowicz explained these differentials by the interaction of three factors: (1) Differential initial conditions, (2) location and (3) differing degrees of market reform / privatization in the different countries. This last factor was most important to explain long-run differentials in economic growth.

Balcerowicz then discussed why Poland’s economy performed so much better than that of other countries during the recent financial crisis (Poland was the only country in Europe that did not have a recession). Firstly, Poland managed to avoid excessive credit build-up during the late 1990s and the early years of the new century. Secondly, with a relatively large domestic market, Poland was less dependent on international trade. Finally, Poland’s dependence on commodity exports was a lot lower than that of other countries in former Central and Eastern Europe.

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