The State of the Russian Economy and the Economy of the Russian State

Some Simplified Comments on a Complex Subject

by Charles Wolf, Jr.

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This Paper provides a brief background on the legacy of unreliable economic statistics in the Soviet period and the erroneous assessments of the Soviet economy based on these data, an outline of a systems approach for evaluating the progress of economic transformation and marketization in formerly "command" economies, and an abbreviated examination of some recent economic data covering the period from 1991 to the present and the inferences that can be drawn about the Russian economy. In retrospect, U.S. estimates of the Soviet economy's annual rate of growth were misleadingly high. In contrast, the more recent consensus about economic performance in Russia has been almost uniformly pessimistic. In fact, there are several reasons for adopting a stance of limited optimism, including the rapid and effective development of the private market economy, the favorable economic developments in Moscow, the modest growth of professionalism within the Russian government, and the increasing number of contacts between the military establishments of the West and Russia.

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