Monday, 21 May 2012

Eastern Europe's neoliberal disaster provides a warning for the Arab spring

A thought provoking piece by Neil Clark in the Guardian:
I wonder if David Cameron spent any time in eastern Europe in the 1990s.Judging from his recent remarks about the Arab spring and international aid, the British prime minister seems to believe that having a more "open" and "free", ie privately owned, economy is the key to both economic development and a successful transition from one-party rule.
The evidence from the former communist countries gives lie to that neoliberal viewpoint. In a recent study entitled Mass Privatisation, State Capacity, and Economic Growth in Post-Communist Countries, published in American Sociological Review, sociologists from the universities of Cambridge and Harvard claim to have established a "direct link" between the mass privatisation programmes followed by around half the countries of the region – enthusiastically urged upon them by western economists and western financial institutions – and the "economic failure and corruption that followed". The more closely the countries followed western advice, and the more they privatised, the worse things became.

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1 comment:

  1. His point about market reforms potentially weakening state capacity is really rather old hat that
    David Cameron and various international institutions spout neo-liberalism is perhaps not really news...

    Also little or no mention of domestic forces usually essential to ravaging an emerging economy/democracy...

    Neil Clark is really rather lazy in not linking to - and possibly not having read - the research in question (little sign of it in his piece and link only to a report the Czech Position news server, whose writer appears have done so)


    (Also worth noting in passing that the earlier work of Stucker and King regarding mass privatisation and mortality has been criticised as unreliable http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/19082/ so I would suspect a similar debate will follow on this one - as the Czech Position report makes clear that are a lot of causes to unpick and from the CP Stucker/King appear nuanced many of their conclusions than Clark suggests.

    All in all pretty poor stuff, I thought.

    Would be more interesting to read your thoughts, especially as Poland is suggested in CP peice to have to be a relative success story through not having implemented some form of mass voucher scheme... [

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