The Role of Non-monetary Trade in Russian Transition
The appearance of significant non-monetary trade in the Russian transition of 1992-98 has been differently interpreted by analysts and observers. Some have seen barter as a symbol of passive resistance to reforms while others have blamed reformist policies for its development. We argue that non-monetary trade is best understood as a natural response of companies to market imperfections remaining from Soviet times. We provide an overview of market institutions that existed at the onset of the transition and conclude that market infrastructure was under-developed (especially trade and finance-related institutions). This fact became obvious after the liberalisation of trade in 1992. When the Central Bank of Russia stopped issuing direct credit to enterprises, newly established commercial banks were unable to fill the gap. Firms had to develop alternative means of financing trade and non-monetary trade was one of them. In our opinion barter, while an inefficient mode of trade, also played a positive role in the transition. Its high transaction costs offered ample opportunities to earn profits from trade and financial intermediation. The latter mushroomed as a result and at the time of the 1998 default the Russian economy had sufficiently developed trade, financial and legal systems to afford a switch from barter to money trade.
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Volume (Year): 14 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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