July 08, 2003
Notes: Blanchard on Transition

Olivier Blanchard's view on the transition from communism to capitalism as of the mid-1990s. If I read his Economics of Post-Communist Transition right, the key problem was the absence of a Marshall Plan to keep demand high and employment high during transition. In the immediate aftermath of World War II in Western Europe, the Marshall Plan allowed countries to maintain high aggregate demand without worrying about balance-of-payments constraints. There was no similar inflow of hard currency in the early 1990s to allow transition governments to create the demand to rapidly reemploy those laid off from state industries. The Bush I Administration had, because of the Reagan deficits, "more will than wallet." As a result, Blanchard argues, high unemployment led to a fear of reallocation and restructuring, and the slowing of the entire process of reform down to a glacial pace. If only demand and employment could have been kept high during the initial stages of transition... And since the mid-1990s? Since Blanchard wrote his book, what has happened? If I read the data right, economic progress in Central Europe has been slow, in Eastern Europe has been very slow, and in the former Soviet Union (where there never was the...

Posted by DeLong at 03:28 PM

May 07, 2003
Notes: World Bank Private Sector Development Forum

PSD FORUM History--JMK and HDW. Feared a world in which the capital requirements of development were immense (think Alex Gerschenkron), and in which sovereigns had a very difficult time borrowing. When you think about it, after all, given experience from start of WWI, why should sovereigns have been able to borrow on a large scale? Bulow and Rogoff. Hence World Bank. Broadly speaking, belief in the US during the 1930s and 1940s that successful growth and development required three things: Public investment in infrastructure. Social democracy--understood as full employment, safety net, income distribution sufficiently equal to make politics a positive rather than a zero-sum game in which, say, rich in U.S. inheritance taxes poor in Ghana take the cocoa export revenues fron the Ashantl. Third: market competition: Low tariffs, stable currencies, exports, comparative advantage, markets, and private businesses. Extraordinary success in nw and s europe. Extraordinary success in East Asia. Had you asked people in 1945 economic destiny of France... One of my teachers, David Landes, reputation France family capitalism... Italy... Argentina. Elsewhere. Disappointing. Glass half-empty. Indicative planning administrative guidance seemed to work fine in France and East Asia--for a while at least. Elsewhere... Infrastructure... Exchange rates... Regional development... If...

Posted by DeLong at 09:45 PM

September 01, 2002
The New German Problem

Project Syndicate: The New German Problem: J. Bradford DeLong : September 2002 As Germany prepares to elect its next Chancellor, the two main candidates, Gerhard Schroeder and Edmund Stoiber, agree on one thing: unemployment must be reduced. Over the past two decades, high unemployment has transformed Europe in general and Germany in particular into a sociological time bomb. What will the unemployed - especially the long-term unemployed with only dim memories of integration into the world of work - do with themselves and their time? What will happen to confidence in governments that can not solve the problem? It is easy to forget that little more than 50 years ago, Europe was the world's most violent continent. Europeans spent the previous forty years slaughtering each other on a scale unprecedented in human history. Against this backdrop, Western Europe after 1950 was remarkably peaceful and stable, even taking into account the fall of the French Fourth Republic and the transitions from dictatorship to democracy in Portugal, Spain, and Greece. The most remarkable transformation of all was that of the Federal Republic of Germany. Anyone familiar with German history since 1800 is still astonished at the enthusiasm with which the nation that...

Posted by DeLong at 04:44 PM