Soviet economic stringencies: external reactions and repercussions

by Charles Wolf, Jr.

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Presented originally at a symposium on "Soviet Economic Stringencies: Political and Security Implications," this paper examines possible consequences of Soviet economic stringencies, defined as an annual growth in real national product in the "above-ground" Soviet economy of not more than 3 percent. Internally, the Soviet leadership would find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the competing resource claims of the military, the domestic economy, and the Soviet empire. In the United States and Western Europe, responses to Soviet economic stringencies will vary, depending on two underlying and contrasting premises concerning the nature of the Soviet system. One set of premises can be characterized as "mirror-imaging." The other can be characterized as "power-maximizing." Finally, repercussions in the Third World will likely be minimal, though the Soviet leadership may be more parsimonious in the future about accepting such Third World burdens as trade subsidies, export credits, and economic and military aid.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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