Post-Communist Transition in a Comparative Perspective

Myron Scholes Global Markets Forum

November 10, 2008 5:30–7 p.m., Gleacher Center

Leszek Balcerowicz is the architect of the economic reforms initiated by Poland in 1989 and has been at the center of the country’s economic and political life since the fall of communism. Among his worldwide honors, Balcerowicz was awarded Poland’s highest decoration, Order of the White Eagle, in 2005 for his contribution to transforming the country’s economic system. In introducing Balcerowicz to the Scholes Forum audience, Chicago Booth’s Raghuram Rajan praised him as “one of the great practical economists of the 20th century, and continuing into the 21st century.”

Balcerowicz compared the post-communist transitions of central and eastern Europe’s economies, highlighting the wide differences that emerged in growth and other outcomes. He then described how the global financial crisis affected the region, causing a fall in exports to trading partners and creating credit difficulties when weak financial institutions in Europe and elsewhere got into trouble.

He concluded with predictions on what the transition economies would do after the crisis has passed. Those that wanted to continue catching up quickly to developed countries, he argued, would need to press ahead with further supply-side reforms, such as increasing the flexibility of labor markets.

Speaker Profile

Leszek Balcerowicz (born 1947) is a professor of economics at the Warsaw School of Economics (WSE), former deputy prime minister and minister of finance, and former president of the National Bank of Poland (NBP). He is the architect of Poland’s economic reforms initiated in 1989; he has been at the center of Poland’s economic and political life since the fall of communism in Poland in 1989. The author of more than 100 publications on economic issues in Poland and abroad, he is the recipient of numerous honors from universities and awards worldwide, including Poland’s highest decoration—Order of the White Eagle—for his contribution to the system transformation (2005). Since 2006 Balcerowicz has belonged to the Distinguished Associates of the International Atlantic Economic Society (IAES), founded in 1973; the IAES serves as an educational and scientific forum for the global community of well-known economists from around the world. In 2006 Balcerowicz became a member of the Group of Trustees, Institute of International Finance as well. The group is engaged in the introduction and development of good practices concerning capital flows and debt restructuring in emerging markets. Founder of the Civil Development Forum Foundation, Balcerowicz was appointed as the chairman of Bruegel, a European think tank, in 2008


This event is part of the Initiative on Global Markets and is generously sponsored by Myron Scholes and cosponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.