This article examines how price reductions became a late Stalinist economic doctrine. When rationing was abolished in 1935, Stalin linked reducing retail prices to economic and revolutionary progress. This progress was derailed by the war, which saw the return of rationing and its accompanying price distortions, as well as the explosion of private trade at exorbitant market prices. Aft er an unsuccessful attempt to compete with the market through state commercial trade at high prices, the government repeatedly reduced prices from 1944 onward in an eff ort to clear stockpiles of too-expensive items, regulate the currency supply, shift the population’s spending from food to consumer goods, bring down market prices, and attack the private sector. Price reductions were presented as an expression of Stalin’s care for workers’ economic interests during the process of recovery and as a blow at those who had unfairly profi ted during the war. By the early 1950s, annual price reductions had become an explicit economic doctrine and a new Stalinist ritual and celebration, despite the persistence of serious shortages, especially of food, and growing evidence of the policy’s shortcomings.
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