Transitional Economic Systems: The Polish-Czech Example

By Dorothy W. Douglas | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
SOCIALIST BANKING, SERVANT OF THE PLAN

Intermediate between Plan and national economy in the countries moving towards Socialism lies the banking apparatus. As servants of the Plan, the banks naturally do not themselves initiate basic financial policy: the Government does that. But under the Plan, they directly control the operations of the economy by their handling of credits and investments. Numerous devices are invented to keep the closest possible check by the banks upon the concrete details of production and construction.

Originally the requirements of their new planned-economy banking had been worked out more or less independently by the Czechs and Poles, for lack of intimate knowledge of Soviet experience in the field -- there was said to have been lack of familiarity with source materials, language, and also a lack of adequate personal banking contacts. By 1948, however, Poland and Czechoslovakia had learned a good deal from each other through systematic conferences and exchange of experience.1 And by the end of another year rich technical materials from the Soviet Union and the experience of Soviet bankers were said to be fully available and taken advantage of.

As technical experts, the banks were given a free hand to devise what machinery they wished to make their controls effective. Their work began with the detailed formulation of the Financial Plans themselves, aside from the budget, which was outside their competence. The other two main portions of the Financial Plan,

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1
Common problems, it was said, had led in the main to a common pattern of controls. Apparently the initiative of the Polish system had been greatest in the general sphere of domestic credit operations, and Czech banking delegations profited subsequently from this. On the other hand, the Czech system had taken a lead in foreign exchange operations, from which, again, the Poles were learning. Also, ex post facto, Czechs and Poles found that many of their devices duplicated what had been worked out long since in the Soviet Union. (Interview material, 1948 and late 1949.)

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