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The Polish Economy

The Polish Economy: Crisis, Reform, and Transformation

Ben Slay
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    The Polish Economy
    Book Description:

    In 1989, Poland became the first Eastern Bloc country to shake off the dominance of its ruling Communist party. Although other post-Communist countries have since followed suit, Poland's experience has been unique in its move to Westernize. In this timely and insightful account, Ben Slay provides the first integrated, comprehensive assessment of Poland's economic transformation from central planning to a market system, and the political and sociological factors that have contributed to it. Drawing on the work of Western and Polish scholars as well as his own research, Slay traces the evolution of the Polish transformation from its historical roots in People's Poland and predicts potential problems and successes facing the Polish economy.

    A ground-breaking addition to the emerging study of post- Communist political economies,The Polish Economydemonstrates that other countries now struggling to join the West have much to learn from Poland's example. Of interest to scholars across the social sciences, this work provides general as well as professional readers with a compelling account of the realities behind one of the most important events of our time--the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.

    Originally published in 1994.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6373-0
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. A Chronology of the Transition, 1989–1993
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    Economic crisis, reform, and transformation in Poland entered the 1990s linked together. The Polish economy began the decade in much the same condition as it had started the 1980s—with balance-of-payments tensions, declining production and incomes, rising inflation, a decreasing share of world trade, an ever-widening technological gap vis-à-vis the capitalist West, and deterioration in such quality-of-life measures as environmental quality, housing availability, and life expectancy. As in the early 1980s, the 1990s began with the widespread realization that Poland’s economic problems had reached critical levels and that solving them required major policy and institutional changes.

    However, the 1980s were...

  8. CHAPTER I The Polish Crisis and Polish Socialism
    (pp. 9-49)

    The rise of the Solidarity movement during 1980–1981, and the collapse of Soviet-style socialism in Poland after 1989, can be ascribed to many factors. The institutional inefficiencies of central planning and command management were certainly major causes, as was popular dissatisfaction with decades of misrule by the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR).¹ The economic policies pursued during the 1970s, which dramatically increased Poland’s external indebtedness, also played an important role. These factors do not tell the whole story, however. Poland’s economic and political institutions did not differ dramatically from those of other Soviet bloc countries, and Poland was only...

  9. CHAPTER II Crisis and Reform in the 1980s
    (pp. 50-85)

    The 1980S were more than the decade of Poland’s economic collapse. Two sets of economic reforms (the so-called first and second stages) were attempted between 1981 and 1988, reforms that tested the boundaries of the Soviet-style economy. The martial-law crackdown on Solidarity in December 1981 was followed by a controlled attempt at gradual political reform from above, dubbed “normalization” by the PZPR leadership. The 1980s were also a decade rich in irony. Political and economic reforms that would have been inconceivable in the 1970s were introduced in the 1980s, but instead of improving economic performance and democratizing the political system...

  10. CHAPTER III Crisis and Economic Transformation, 1990–1992
    (pp. 86-137)

    When the Solidarity government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki assumed power in September 1989, it acquired an inheritance fraught with economic and political obstacles. Opposition leaders realized that Solidarity’s electoral victory and the subsequent palace coup d’état had more to do with the electorate’s desire to vent its anticommunist frustrations than with grass-roots support for Solidarity per se (Wedel 1989). Solidarity itself was not a coherent political entity, but rather a heterogeneous coterie of opposition forces united primarily by disdain for the PZPR (Zubek 1991b). As a labor union it remained dwarfed in size by the official OPZZ trade union...

  11. CHAPTER IV Transformations in Key Markets and Sectors
    (pp. 138-175)

    As the preceding chapter’s description of developments from 1990 to 1993 shows, sweeping judgments about the first years of Poland’s transition from socialism to capitalism are not easily made. On the plus side, hyperinflation was brought under control, shortages were eliminated, the private sector grew rapidly, the construction of many new market and regulatory institutions was begun, zloty convertibility was restored, trade with Western Europe expanded significantly, and important progress was made in restoring Poland’s external creditworthiness. On the minus side, significant declines in output, incomes, employment, and regional trade were recorded, and many firms, farms, and banks fell on...

  12. CHAPTER V The Lessons of the Polish Transition
    (pp. 176-188)

    Questions about the desirability and adequacy of the changes described in chapters 3 and 4 are heavily normative. As such, they both defy easy answers and motivate the search for other contexts in which to consider them. Comparisons with other postcommunist economies constitute one such context. In addition, Poland’s pioneering role in this transition implies that the Polish experience may have lessons for other postcommunist economies, especially Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union.¹ This chapter is devoted to these issues.

    Five criteria seem most appropriate in making international comparisons of the extent of systemic transformation: (l)macroeconomic...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-206)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-229)