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

A Russian Revival?

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Saturday, October 13, 2001

The lead editorial in the November 12, 2001, issue of The Wall Street Journal is entitled "A Russian Revival."

Analysis and Commentary

The New Protectionism at Work in Russia's Auto Industry

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Wednesday, August 15, 2001

The Russian government, reinforced by a mid-July IMF Report, emphasized domestic industrial output as a principal source of growth in 2000 and 2001. Future growth, on this view, requires sustaining domestic production, which means holding down imports.

Analysis and Commentary

The New IMF Orthodoxy for Russia Is the Old Protectionism for Africa

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Tuesday, July 31, 2001

The IMF released its mid-year report on the Russian Federation in July 2001. It recommends a new protectionism modeled on the lines of the old (failed) African policy of import substitution that was prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.

Analysis and Commentary

The Dutch Disease: Peter the Great's Real Legacy?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Monday, July 2, 2001

Russia is abuzz with talk of the Dutch disease. The current conventional wisdom as summarized in a June 20, 2001, Wall Street Journal article entitled "Russia's Strong Ruble Damps Hopes for Extended Growth" is that high commodities prices are causing an economic slowdown, threatening Russia's recovery.

Appreciating Ruble Appreciation

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Thursday, June 21, 2001

From time to time, it's useful to take stock of conventional wisdom on the problems and prospects of Russia's economy as reported in the main stream financial media.

Analysis and Commentary

The IMF, the Truth, and Russia

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The International Monetary Fund is trying to set up a venture that would warn of impending financial crises in developing countries, which would give both itself and other international lenders time to deal with problems in their early stages. But the IMF has no incentives to enforce the truth, even for its own policy objectives.

Analysis and Commentary

The IMF, Oil, and Russian Economic Policy

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Given the IMF's assessment of Russia's current favorable macroeconomic environment (strong reserves, balanced budget, stable currency), the IMF states that the time is ripe to make progress on such structural and institutional reforms as creating a real banking sector and further reduce arrears. What's lacking in the IMF Outlook?

Analysis and Commentary

Can More Liberal Subsidies Spur Growth and Reduce Inflation?

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Wednesday, April 25, 2001

A remarkable consensus has recently surfaced among Russian policy makers, from the President on down, and Western observers and investors. They are concerned about rising inflation and slowing growth. As a remedy, they advocate larger subsidies. Alas, simple accounting arithmetic shows that liberalization of capital outflow cannot achieve the desired objectives of higher growth and lower inflation.

Analysis and Commentary

Two Conflicting Policies in Search of Growth

by Alvin Rabushka, Michael S. Bernstamvia russianeconomy.org
Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Two rival predictions have been made on Russian economic growth. One, by experts from the IMF, WB, and Russians themselves, is that relaxing the 75% rule will, by slowing ruble appreciation, increase growth. The other, which we have made, is that relaxing the rule will slow growth.

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The Secret oF Russian Economic Growth: Testing an Old Hypothesis with New Data

by Michael S. Bernstam, Alvin Rabushka
Thursday, April 5, 2001

Inadvertently, the authors and the readers of this web site have become participants in a scientific experiment.


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