Poland and Hungary are in Transition — страница 3

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force was caused by forced layoffs. The unemployment rate was reported to be 6,5% at the end of 1990. Another major positive aspect of the Polish reform experience has been the foreign trade sector. There has been a significant expansion of exports, especially to hard-currency markets. This expansion resulted in part from the devaluation of the zloty to market-clearing levels and in part from the reorientation of trade away from the Soviet Union and other East European trading partners. At the same time, as a result of restrictive policy measures and the higher domestic cost of these imports, import demand declined. A third qualified success has been privatization. Although the first steps of privatization were rapid, this early privatization was largely that of small-scale

enterprises in the area of trade and services. Hungary Until 1968, Hungary applied the Soviet model of centrally planned socialism in a typical way. But then, in 1968, Hungary began to introduce the most radical economic reform attempted in Eastern Europe (with the exception of Yugoslavia). Although the reform program in Hungary met with only partial success, the problems that have arisen (for example: conflicts of objectives, and difficulty in persuading participants to change their ways) are fundamental to the reform experience of planned socialist systems. Hungary shares many features with other Eastern and Southeastern European countries, such as Yugoslavia. It provides a refreshing contrast to the Soviet Union, which in some important respects is atypical. Hungary is a small

country heavily dependent on foreign trade. The Hungarian experience with reforming foreign trade, and in particular its efforts to become integrated into the world economy both East and West, is prototypical. The difficulties of reforming the foreign trade mechanism are crucial to the Hungarian economy as well as to the economies of many other systems of Eastern Europe. The Background The postwar reconstruction of the Hungarian economy began quite modestly in 1945. Before the implementation of a three-year plan in 1947 (1947-1949), the main policies included stabilization of the currency, changes in the nature of rural landholdings, and the beginnings of nationalization. The first three-year plan was designed primarily to bring the economy up to prewar levels of economic

activity. During this time, a planning mechanism was created and the share of national income going to investment increased sharply. The changes were not radical, however, and balanced development was envisioned. The era of balanced development came to an end with the introduction of a five-year plan in 1950. The share of national income devoted to investment was increased substantially, and the bulk of new investment was directed toward heavy industry. This policy was partially reversed toward the end of the plan period, but it was reaffirmed in 1955-1956. A number of economic trouble spots cried out for attention. There was an observed need to improve industrial labor productivity, especially through the development of a better incentive system to offset the declining supply of

labor from rural areas. Supply/demand imbalances were growing increasingly severe. Waste and imbalance in the material-technical supply system created the need for a substantially modified coordinating mechanism among enterprises. In addition, excess demand for investment led to substantial amounts of unfinished new construction and to the neglect of old facilities. Some mechanisms for the more rational allocation of capital investment had to be found. The adoption and diffusion of technological advances were seen as inadequate. Technological improvement was considered crucial for continued development of the economy. This background seems familiar: a small country, the Soviet (Stalinist) model of industrialization, overcentralization, emphasis on extensive growth, rigidities of

the plan mechanism, incentive problems, and the resulting difficulties. Against this background, the New Economic Mechanism that proclaimed in a party resolution in 1966 was put into, practice in 1968. Over twenty years later, it remains one of the most important reform programs of planned socialist systems. The New Economic Mechanism There is a disagreement about the importance and effect of the Hungarian reform program. The New Economic Mechanism (NEM) has generally been interpreted as leaving the power to control the main lines of economic activity (volume and direction of investment, consumption shares) with the central authorities, while relying on the market to execute the routine activities of the system. The NEM called for substantial decentralization of decision-making