The Political Economy of Transition: Coming to Grips with History and Methodology

By Jozef M.Van Brabant | Go to book overview

Part II


COMPONENTS OF THE TRANSFORMATION AGENDA

The following chapters examine in detail the five components with their five qualifiers of the coherent strategy for economic transformation proposed in Chapter 3. Two remarks are necessary to justify the choice of six chapters. From among the “institutions of the market” I single out the state as a topic for special attention for two reasons. One is that the economic role of the state in the transition, as argued in Chapter 9, is by necessity sui generis. Also, the proper role of the state in more general policy making, such as in the posttransition period, is almost always far more encompassing and complex than most economists, particularly the champions of liberalism, have been willing to concede. While it is true that professional economists cannot foreclose political choice with its various responsibilities, they should be in a position to proffer professionally sound options, with their various advantages and drawbacks spelled out under alternative scenarios, for policy makers to choose from. Also, as justified in Chapter 3, I consider the establishment and maintenance of a social safety net to constitute an integral part of good governance during the transformation, not just something that may be politically desirable to avert sociopolitical flak being projected onto the application of “professionally smooth” strategies. Policy making during the transition is by necessity rather messy. How else could one engineer societal transformations in the real world?

It is admittedly a bit awkward to treat the various components of a coherent transformation agenda in separate chapters. For one thing, many of the topics included in one chapter are intricately interrelated with others discussed elsewhere. For example, stabilization in practice cannot be pursued without liberalization. But confounding the two is not the most useful approach. I decided to treat them separately, with appropriate cross references, even at the risk of some repetition and redundancy. I can conceive of no other way in which the qualifiers on sequencing, sectoralism, intensity, comprehensiveness, and speed can be handled systematically in anything like a comprehensive overview.

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