The Global Political Economy and Post-1989 Change: The Place of the Central European Transition, Elizabeth De Boer-Ashworth

Article excerpt

Elizabeth De Boer-Ashworth is associated with the University of Limerick, where she lectures in governance and public management. In The Global Political Economy and Post-1989 Change: The Place of the Central European Transition she examines the changes since 1989 in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, following the demise of Soviet communism. The first three chapters outline the nature of the global political economy, Western developmental approaches toward Central Europe before and after 1989, and the basis for using these three countries for study. A chapter is devoted to each, and the penultimate chapter covers the relationship between the European Union and Central Europe as well as EU enlargement to the East. A brief summary concludes the text.

There is much here that will interest a nonspecialist. The first three chapters are noteworthy because they combine historical analysis with a discussion of the dominant Western economic view of development, an unusual approach in contemporary economics. These chapters and those following on individual countries elaborate the theme of reintegration of Central Europe into the West at the latter's insistence, chiefly through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), based on policies tied to financial assistance. This meant, in De Boer-Ashworth's view, that financial liberalization, the freeing of prices and international capital flows, and privatization were forced on countries desperate for resources: "Central Europe was not given the opportunity to choose a model other than one that was strictly liberal and economically neo-classical" (51). The cost was vast economic dislocation, falling production and employment, sharply rising prices, and widespread human suffering. …


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