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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: September 2017

8 - The Decline of Soviet-Type Economies

from Part I - Globalism and Crisis
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The Cambridge History of Communism
  • Online ISBN: 9781316471821
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The economic decline of the Eastern bloc has been examined in various perspectives. The multitude of economic analyses on how Soviet-type economies functioned and their fundamental defects has been expertly summarized by Kornai, János, The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). Overviews from a general historical perspective which also provide insights into economic processes need not be referred to here as these are already cited in other chapters within this book. For an examination of the long lines of economic change, see Aldcroft, Derek H. and Morewood, Steven, Economic Change in Eastern Europe Since 1918 (Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar, 1995). A greater emphasis on economic history is also provided by Berend, Ivan T., Central and Eastern Europe 1944–1993: Detour from the Periphery to the Periphery (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), and From the Soviet Bloc to the European Union: The Economic and Social Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe Since 1973 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). As both historian and participator in the processes described, the author provides a more essayistic account of economic developments in Central Eastern and Eastern Europe, with the exemption of the case of the GDR. For a more analytical approach, see Morewood, Steven, “The Demise of the Command Economies in the Soviet Union and Its Outer Empire,” in Aldcroft, Derek H. and Oliver, Michael J. (eds.), Economic Disasters of the Twentieth Century (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2007), 258311.

To date, only one publication on Comecon also draws on documents from its internal archives: Stone, Randall W., Satellites and Commissars: Strategy and Conflict in the Politics of Soviet-Bloc Trade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996). Also worthwhile here is van Brabant, Jozef M., Economic Integration in Eastern Europe: A Handbook (New York, Routledge, 1989). The more recent increase in interest in the foreign relations of Soviet-type economies is particularly reflected in Romano, Angela and Romero, Federico (eds.), “European Socialist Regimes Facing Globalisation and European Cooperation: Dilemmas and Responses,” European Review of History 21, 2 (2014) (special issue).

The comprehensiveness of English-language publications on the economic developments in individual countries varies, as does the access to internal documents in the archives. So the literature listed below includes different approaches. For Czechoslovakia, see Myant, Martin R., The Czechoslovak Economy 1948–1988: The Battle for Economic Reform (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). The East German economy is examined in Steiner, André, The Plans That Failed: An Economic History of the GDR (New York: Berghahn, 2010). Beyond these, various aspects find analysis in Berghoff, Hartmut and Balbier, Uta Andrea (eds.), The East German Economy, 1945–2010: Falling Behind or Catching Up? (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013). For the case of Hungary, see mainly Berend, Ivan T., The Hungarian Economic Reforms 1953–1988 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), as well as Révész, Gábor, Perestroika in Eastern Europe: Hungary’s Economic Transformation 1945–1988 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990). Given its marked significance for the overall collapse of the Eastern bloc, economic development in Poland has received more attention. In particular, see Poznanski, Kazimierz Z., Poland’s Protracted Transition: Institutional Change and Economic Growth 1970–1994 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Simatupang, Batara, The Polish Economic Crisis: Background, Causes, Aftermath (London: Routledge, 1994), and Slay, Ben, The Polish Economy: Crisis, Reform, and Transformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994). Finally, for the Soviet Union, Alec Nove’s classic publication, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917–1991, 3rd edn. (London: Penguin Books, 1992), is still relevant. Contemporary insider reports now available have been summarized by Ellman, Michael and Kontorovich, Vladimir (eds.), The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders’ History (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1998). This and other more recent studies are drawn on in Hanson, Philip, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Economy: An Economic History of the USSR from 1945 (London: Longman, 2003).