Michael S. Bernstam

Research Fellow

Michael S. Bernstam, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, is an economic demographer who studies the centrality of income redistribution for the taxonomy and evolution of economic systems, long-run economic growth, demographic transition, social revolutions, conflict, and other social changes.

The focus of his work in the past ten years has been on the causes of economic growth and contraction in former central plan economies, with special emphasis on Russia, China, and the former East Germany, and how to reconcile them with earlier global experience. To this end, he is at work on the book From Predation to Prosperity: How to Move from Socialism to Markets (with Alvin Rabushka). Several chapters of this book, as well as numerous articles and commentaries on the subject, are posted at www.russiaeconomy.org, a web site created jointly by Bernstam and Rabushka.

Bernstam's previous books include Fixing Russia's Banks: A Proposal for Growth, with Alvin Rabushka (Hoover Institution Press, 1998); Inter-Enterprise Debt and the Russian Coal Sector, with Thomas E. MaCurdy (Partners in Economic Reform for the USAID, 1996); and Reform without Shock, with Vladimir Leksin (Supreme Economic Council of Russia, 1992).

Bernstam's other major publications include Resources, Environment, and Population: Present Knowledge, Future Options, with Kingsley Davis (Oxford University Press, 1991); The Wealth of Nations and the Environment (Institute of Economic Affairs, 1991); Malthus and the Evolution of the Welfare State, with Peter L. Swan (University of New South Wales, 1989); and Below-Replacement Fertility in Industrial Societies: Causes and Consequences, with Kingsley Davis and Rita Ricardo-Campbell (Cambridge University Press, 1986). He has also authored numerous articles, papers, and book chapters.

Bernstam served as visiting professor of economics at Monash University, Victoria, Australia, in 1989 and as an adjunct professor in Stanford University's Overseas Studies Program in 1997–99.

During 1991–95, Bernstam served as economic adviser to the Russian Parliament, the Central Bank of Russia, and the Russian government on several policy projects. He is a regular commentator on the Russian economy and finance for Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and the BBC.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

What Real Appreciation of the Ruble?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Monday, July 15, 2002

Even if there is such a thing as real appreciation of the ruble and if it takes some time for the real appreciation of the ruble to percolate through the economy, the magnitude of the changes over the past year does not warrant the conclusion that a major culprit in Russia's slowing growth is real ruble appreciation.

Analysis and Commentary

How Much Growth is Normal? In Russia? Elsewhere?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Russia's sustained contraction during 1991-1998, followed by a trend of declining growth during the past three-and-a-half years, should be set in the context of an economy defined by a low level of private income, about one-quarter of GDP (or a high degree of socialism, about three-quarters of GDP). In the realm of socialist economies, 3-4% annual growth may well be normal.

Analysis and Commentary

Capital Swap à la Russe for Argentina

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Thursday, June 6, 2002

Capital swaps are a general proposal that can be applied to reform bankrupt financial institutions in most countries. Our proposal for Russia was, really, a general concept that we developed for Russia's particular circumstances. We are gratified to find that this general concept has found applicability in such other countries as Argentina.

New Data Confirms the Basic Relationships in the Russian Economy: Ten Years of the New Economic System Revisited

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Recent official Russia data indicate that in 2001 Russian gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5 percent.

Russia's Fiscal Pattern Redux: Testing an Old Hypothesis with the New Data

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Several episodes at the end of fiscal year 2001 illustrate the systemic features of Russia’s post-Communist economy.

Analysis and Commentary

Review of the World Bank's "Russian Economic Report, October 2001"

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Tuesday, December 4, 2001

In October 2001, the Moscow office of the World Bank issued the first of a new series of quarterly economic reports on Russia, which are intended to describe major economic trends and issues facing the economy.

Analysis and Commentary

Fixing Russia's Banks—A Reminder

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Sunday, November 18, 2001

The Russian government plans to hold a meeting on September 27, 2001, to explore several ideas to reform Russia's banks. If the Russian government and its international advisers are really serious about banking reform, they can start by reviewing the relative merits and demerits of existing proposals.

Analysis and Commentary

Towards a New Understanding of the Russian Economy?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Wednesday, November 14, 2001

President Vladimir Putin's visit to Washington, D.C., and to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, for three days in mid-November 2001 has led to considerable soul searching on Russia's economic prospects and if its recent high growth can be sustained.

Analysis and Commentary

A Russian Revival?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Russia's revival, according to The Wall Street Journal, is due largely to its refusing fresh IMF assistance and advice.

Figure 1

Bush and Putin at the Ranch

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Monday, November 12, 2001

Terrorism has replaced economic and other issues as the top agenda item for the meeting between presidents Bush and Putin at the ranch.


From Predation to Prosperity: How to Move from Socialism to Markets

From Predation to Prosperity

This book starts with the experience of Russia since the end of central planning. It covers the great contraction of 1992-98 and the subsequent recovery in 1999-2006. It offers and empirically supports a uniform explanation of both the contraction and the recovery.

The Russian Economy