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The Role of Non-monetary Trade in Russian Transition

  • Vlad Ivanenko
  • Dmitry Mikheyev

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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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Post-Communist Economies.

Volume (Year): 14 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 405-419

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Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:14:y:2002:i:4:p:405-419
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  1. J. Stiglitz, 1999. "Whither Reform? Ten Years of the Transition," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 7.
  2. Gorochowskij, Bogdan & Kaufmann, Daniel & Marin, Dalia, 2000. "Barter In Transition Economies: Competing Explanations Confront Ukrainian Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 2432, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. S. Aukutsionek, 1998. "Barter in the Russian Industry," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 2.
  4. Sergei Guriev & Igor Makarov & Mathilde Maurel, 2000. "Debt Overhang and Barter in Russia," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 339, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  5. V. Makarov & G. Kleiner, 2000. "Barter in Russia," Problems of Economic Transition, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 42(11), pages 51-79, March.
  6. Bolton, Patrick & Farrell, Joseph, 1990. "Decentralization, Duplication, and Delay," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 803-26, August.
  7. Sergei Guriev & Dmitry Kvassov, 2000. "Barter for price discrimination? A theory and evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0007, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  8. Commander, Simon & Dolinskaya, Irina & Mumssen, Christian, 2002. "Determinants of barter in Russia: an empirical analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 275-307, April.
  9. Andrei Yakovlev, 2000. "Barter in the Russian Economy: Classifications and Implications (Evidence from Case Study Analyses)," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 279-291.
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