The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insider's History

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9780765602640: The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insider's History
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The inside story of the political collpase of the Soviet Union is far better understood than the course of economic and social disintegration. In order to capture the story, the editors compiled a list of questions which they addressed to former top Soviet officials and economic and other policy advisors (both Soviet and foreign) who were privy not only to data on the functioning of the Soviet economy but also to the internal policy debate during the 1980s. This volume assembles the Informants' analyses of key issues and the turning points, and weaves them into a compelling history of systemic collapse. Among the topics investigated are: economic policies in the 1980s; the standard of living: the reliability of Soviet statistics; Gosplan's projections for the economy to the year 2000; was the arms race starving the civilian economy? the role of ideology in supporting the functioning of an economic system; the party's participating in economic management; the influence of foreign advisors; the struggle over a transition program; the functioning and collapse of the supply system, the CMEA, and the foreign trade system.

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Edited by Michael Ellman, Amsterdam University; Vladimir Kontorovich, Haverford College.

From Publishers Weekly:

With this book, Kokh can show his Russian prosecutors that his $100,000 book advance was not a bribe, but real. Kokh's claim to the title Principal Insider is a bit fanciful, as his tenure as Russia's privatization chief was brief--he was not yet there when the Harvard team of Jonathan Hays and Andrei Shleifer imposed shock therapy on Russia, but mostly served as a team player under the architect of Russia's economic reform program, deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais. The promised revelations are few for those who have kept up with the media and other books on the subject. The book does contain insider anecdotes, such as George Soros's personal loan offer to Russia, as well as doses of Kokh's keen sense of superiority in affairs political and economic, and animosity toward financier and media magnate Boris Berezhovsky. This hubris persists despite numerous contradictory assertions. Readers who analyze the few numbers and tables given will find them, ironically, good evidence for the opposing view that privatization was poorly run, with the state's most valuable assets disposed of for a pittance, notably in the shares-for-loans deals. Kokh maintains a surprising disdain for the individual investor, while his vigorous but simplistic views on free markets display all the fervor of a new convert whose apocalyptic faith has no need for details. Kokh's participation has undoubtedly prepared him well for his current life as a New Russian and head of a private investment company in Moscow. (Aug.) FYI: The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insider's History, edited by Michael Ellman and Vladimir Kontorovich, includes interviews with insiders and most key government agencies. (M.E. Sharpe, $75 ISBN 0-7656-0263-6; Sept.)

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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