IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/spo/wpmain/infohdl2441-50oojv2kpq972a1928dqj0v6at.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Gorbachev versus Deng: A Review of Chris Miller's 'The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy'

Author

Listed:
  • Sergei Guriev

    (Département d'économie)

Abstract

Chris Miller’s book is a historian’s account of Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to save the Soviet economy. Miller focuses on the question of why Gorbachev did not follow Deng Xiaoping and did not manage to reform the economy. Miller argues that it was not for the lack of understanding (Gorbachev did invest in learning China’s approach to reform and did understand it well), nor for the lack of trying. In fact, Gorbachev did try to implement Deng’s agricultural and industrial enterprise reforms. However, Gorbachev’s reforms were blocked by powerful vested interests. An inability to tackle the agricultural and industrial lobbies eventually resulted in the bankruptcy and collapse of the Soviet Union. While I generally agree with the political economy argument, I discuss a number of alternative explanations. I also discuss sources of Gorbachev’s weak state capacity and offer an evaluation of Gorbachev’s and post-Gorbachev reform efforts and mistakes based on the political economy research carried out in the last twenty-five years.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergei Guriev, 2019. "Gorbachev versus Deng: A Review of Chris Miller's 'The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy'," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/50oojv2kpq9, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/50oojv2kpq972a1928dqj0v6at
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://spire.sciencespo.fr/hdl:/2441/50oojv2kpq972a1928dqj0v6at/resources/2019-guriev-gorbachev-versus-deng-a-review-of-chris-miller-s-the-struggle-to-save-the-soviet-economy.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daniel Treisman, 2010. "Death and prices," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 18(2), pages 281-331, April.
    2. Olivier Blanchard & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Federalism With and Without Political Centralization: China Versus Russia," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(4), pages 1-8.
    3. King, Gary & Pan, Jennifer & Roberts, Margaret E., 2013. "How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 326-343, May.
    4. Timothy Besley & Torsten Persson, 2011. "Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9624.
    5. Petra Persson & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2016. "The Limits of Career Concerns in Federalism: Evidence from China," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 338-374.
    6. Sergei Guriev & Andrei Rachinsky, 2005. "The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 131-150, Winter.
    7. Sonin, Konstantin, 2003. "Why the rich may favor poor protection of property rights," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 715-731, December.
    8. Sachs, J.D. & Woo, W.T., 1994. "Structural Factors in the Economic Reforms of China, Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union," Papers 94-01, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
    9. Ruixue Jia & Masayuki Kudamatsu & David Seim, 2015. "Political Selection In China: The Complementary Roles Of Connections And Performance," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 631-668, August.
    10. repec:hal:pseose:halshs-01313799 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Acemoglu, Daron, 2003. "Why not a political Coase theorem? Social conflict, commitment, and politics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 620-652, December.
    12. Konstantin Sonin, 2013. "The end of economic transition," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 21(1), pages 1-10, January.
    13. Michael Alexeev & Shlomo Weber, 2013. "Russian economy, the," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics,, Palgrave Macmillan.
    14. Jin, Hehui & Qian, Yingyi & Weingast, Barry R., 2005. "Regional decentralization and fiscal incentives: Federalism, Chinese style," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1719-1742, September.
    15. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-1155, December.
    16. Bennett, John, 1994. "Queuing and the Price Level under Repressed Inflation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 68-82, January.
    17. Chen, Ye & Li, Hongbin & Zhou, Li-An, 2005. "Relative performance evaluation and the turnover of provincial leaders in China," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 421-425, September.
    18. Edward Glaeser & Wei Huang & Yueran Ma & Andrei Shleifer, 2017. "A Real Estate Boom with Chinese Characteristics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 93-116, Winter.
    19. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/1cu21pio6c90g9i5oedr5hnaa3 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Raymond Fisman & Yongxiang Wang, 2017. "The Distortionary Effects of Incentives in Government: Evidence from China's "Death Ceiling" Program," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 202-218, April.
    21. Abramitzky, Ran, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1240-1251, December.
    22. Gérard Roland, 2004. "Transition and Economics: Politics, Markets, and Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026268148x, December.
    23. Robert A. Margo, 2018. "The integration of economic history into economics," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 12(3), pages 377-406, September.
    24. Maxim Boycko, 1992. "When Higher Incomes Reduce Welfare: Queues, Labor Supply, and Macro Equilibrium in Socialist Economies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 107(3), pages 907-920.
    25. Li, Hongbin & Zhou, Li-An, 2005. "Political turnover and economic performance: the incentive role of personnel control in China," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1743-1762, September.
    26. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
    27. Monica Martinez-Bravo & Gerard Padró i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2012. "Elections in China," NBER Working Papers 18101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    28. J. David Brown & John S. Earle & Almos Telegdy, 2006. "The Productivity Effects of Privatization: Longitudinal Estimates from Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 61-99, February.
    29. Byung-Yeon Kim, 2002. "Causes of repressed inflation in the Soviet consumer market, 1965–1989: retail price subsidies, the siphoning effect, and the budget deficit[I thank An]," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 55(1), pages 105-127, February.
    30. Sergei Guriev & Andrei Rachinsky, 2005. "The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 131-150, Winter.
    31. Osband, Kent, 1992. "Economic Crisis in a Shortage Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 673-690, August.
    32. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1992. "The Transition to a Market Economy: Pitfalls of Partial Reform," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 107(3), pages 889-906.
    33. J. David Brown & John S. Earle & Almos Telegdy, "undated". "The Productivity Effects of Privatization: Longitudnal Estimates for Hungary, romania, Russia, and Ukraine," Upjohn Working Papers jse20063, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    34. Ran Abramitzky, 2015. "Economics and the Modern Economic Historian," NBER Working Papers 21636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ekaterina Zhuravskaya & Sergei Guriev & Andrei Markevich, 2024. "New Russian Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 62(1), pages 47-114, March.
    2. Tang, Rongsheng & Tang, Yang, 2022. "Market formation in China from 1978," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C).
    3. Andrzej Cieślik & Oleg Gurshev, 2023. "Factor Endowments, Economic Integration, Sanctions, and Offshores: Evidence from Inward FDI in Russia," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 65(4), pages 617-649, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/50oojv2kpq972a1928dqj0v6at is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sergei Guriev, 2019. "Gorbachev versus Deng: A Review of Chris Miller's The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 57(1), pages 120-146, March.
    3. Djankov, Simeon & Glaeser, Edward & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The new comparative economics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 595-619, December.
    4. Wang, Li & Menkhoff, Lukas & Schröder, Michael & Xu, Xian, 2019. "Politicians’ promotion incentives and bank risk exposure in China," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 63-94.
    5. Yao, Yang, 2014. "The Chinese Growth Miracle," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 7, pages 943-1031, Elsevier.
    6. Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2007. "Whither Russia? A Review of Andrei Shleifer's A Normal Country," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 127-146, March.
    7. Petra Persson & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2016. "The Limits of Career Concerns in Federalism: Evidence from China," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 338-374.
    8. Hanming Fang & Ming Li & Zenan Wu, 2022. "Tournament-Style Political Competition and Local Protectionism: Theory and Evidence from China," PIER Working Paper Archive 22-031, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    9. Yu Bai & Yanjun Li, 2022. "Political tournaments and regional growth‐enhancing policies: Evidence from Chinese prefectures," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(5), pages 1358-1385, November.
    10. Jing Wu & Hao Li & Keyang Li, 2020. "Local political chief turnover and economic growth: Evidence from China," Economics of Transition and Institutional Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 28(3), pages 441-466, July.
    11. Tian, Zhihua & Hu, An & Chen, Yang & Shao, Shuai, 2023. "Local officials’ tenure and CO2 emissions in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 173(C).
    12. Chen, Ting & Kung, J.K.-S., 2016. "Do land revenue windfalls create a political resource curse? Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 86-106.
    13. Berkowitz, Daniel & DeJong, David N., 2002. "Accounting for growth in post-Soviet Russia," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 221-239, March.
    14. Zhang, Muyang & Zhou, Guangsu & Fan, Gang, 2020. "Political Control and Economic Inequality: Evidence from Chinese Cities," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    15. Irina Denisova & Markus Eller & Timothy Frye & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2007. "Who Wants to Revise Privatization and Why? Evidence from 28 Post-Communist Countries," Working Papers w0105, New Economic School (NES).
    16. An, Heng & Chen, Yanyan & Luo, Danglun & Zhang, Ting, 2016. "Political uncertainty and corporate investment: Evidence from China," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 174-189.
    17. Guriev, Sergei & Yakovlev, Evgeny & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2010. "Interest group politics in a federation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 730-748, October.
    18. Irina Slinko & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya & Evgeny Yakovlev, 2005. "Laws for Sale: Evidence from Russia," American Law and Economics Review, American Law and Economics Association, vol. 7(1), pages 284-318.
    19. Liu, Dayong & Xu, Chunfa & Yu, Yongze & Rong, Kaijian & Zhang, Junyan, 2020. "Economic growth target, distortion of public expenditure and business cycle in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    20. Wu, Mingqin & Chen, Bin, 2016. "Assignment of provincial officials based on economic performance: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 60-75.
    21. Ya Zhao & Lennon H. T. Choy & Kwong Wing Chau, 2023. "Political Circles and Land Supply for the Service and Industrial Sectors: Evidence from 284 Cities in China," Land, MDPI, vol. 12(3), pages 1-16, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • P21 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • P23 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population
    • P24 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - National Income, Product, and Expenditure; Money; Inflation
    • P26 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Property Rights

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/50oojv2kpq972a1928dqj0v6at. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Spire @ Sciences Po Library (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ecspofr.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.