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.