The Economic Development of the USSR

The Economic Development of the USSR

The Economic Development of the USSR

The Economic Development of the USSR

Excerpt

By comparison with the nineteenth century the twentieth has been very much more turbulent, both economically and politically. Two world wars and a great depression are sufficient to substantiate this claim without invoking the problems of more recent times. Yet despite these setbacks Europe's economic performance in the present century has been very much better than anything recorded in the historical past, thanks largely to the superboom conditions following the post-Second World War reconstruction period. Thus in the period 1946-75, or 1950- 73, the annual increase in total European GNP per capita was 4.8 and 4.5 per cent respectively, as against a compound rate of just under 1 per cent in the nineteenth century (1800-1913) and the same during the troubled years between 1913 and 1950. As Bairoch points out, within a generation or so European per capita income rose slightly more than in the previous 150 years (1945-75 by 250 per cent, 1800- 1948 by 225 per cent) and, on rough estimates for the half-century before 1800, by about as much as in the preceding two centuries.

The dynamic growth and relative stability of the 1950s and 1960s may, however, belie the natural order of things, as the events of the later 1970s and early 1980s demonstrate. Certainly it would seem unlikely that the European economy, or the world economy for that matter, will see a lasting return to the relatively stable conditions of the nineteenth century. No doubt the experience of the present century can easily lead to an exaggerated idea about the stability of the previous one. Nevertheless, one may justifiably claim that for much of the nineteenth century there was a degree of harmony in the economic development of the major powers and between the metropolitan economies and the periphery which has been noticeably absent since 1914. Indeed, one of the reasons for the apparent success of the gold standard post- 1870, despite the aura of stability it allegedly shed, was the absence of serious external disturbances and imbalance in development among the major participating powers. As Triffin writes: 'The residual harmonization of national monetary and credit policies depended far less on ex post corrective action, requiring an extreme flexibility, downward as well as upward, of national price and wage levels, than on an ex ante avoidance of substantial disparities in cost competitiveness and the monetary policies that would allow them to develop.'

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.