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Resource Allocation During the Transition to a Market Economy: Political Implications of Supply Bottlenecks and Adjustment Costs


  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Peter Isard


This paper explains why a laissez-faire approach may fail to account for externalities in transforming economies, focusing on externalities associated with supply bottlenecks and adjustment costs. Bottlenecks tend to arise whenever input requirements are stochastic and the opportunity cost of holding inventories is high. They are likely to become prevalent in the state industrial sector once budget constraints are hardened and credit markets begin to function properly, since the creditworthiness of state enterprises is limited by outdated production technologies. The analysis recognizes that producers have incentives to form pooling arrangements, supported potentially by market mechanisms, for reallocating stocks of critical inputs. It is shown, however, that such arrangements do not eliminate the externalities, and that the externalities rise in a nonlinear manner with the opportunity cost of holding inventories. The analysis suggests that once budget constraints are hardened, the externalities associated with bottlenecks and adjustment costs provide a case for subsidizing the costs of critical inputs for the state industrial sector, but not for the new private sector. This subsidy declines as the private sectors grows.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Peter Isard, 1993. "Resource Allocation During the Transition to a Market Economy: Political Implications of Supply Bottlenecks and Adjustment Costs," NBER Working Papers 4366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4366
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Perotti, Enrico C., 1993. "Bank lending in transition economies," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 1021-1032, September.
    2. repec:mes:challe:v:34:y:1991:i:5:p:26-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1992. "The Transition to a Market Economy: Pitfalls of Partial Reform," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 889-906.
    4. Stanley Fischer, 1992. "Stabilization and Economic Reform in Russia," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 77-126.
    5. Michael Bruno, 1992. "Stabilization and Reform in Eastern Europe; A Preliminary Evaluation," IMF Working Papers 92/30, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Dani Rodrik, 1992. "Making Sense of the Soviet Trade Shock in Eastern Europe: A Framework and Some Estimates," NBER Working Papers 4112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies


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