First Steps toward Economic Independence: New States of the Postcommunist World

By Michael L. Wyzan | Go to book overview

Overall, real living standards fell for most social groups after independence. The exception is probably the relatively few people who have managed to enter the high-paying parts of the private sector. For the vast majority of the population the march toward hyperinflation has meant steady impoverishment.


CONCLUSION

Independent Ukraine has faced significant shocks to its economy, particularly in the form of disrupted trade with Russia and higher energy prices. These shocks are smaller in magnitude for Ukraine than for most former Soviet republics, yet Ukraine's macroeconomic performance has been just as bad on most measures, its inflation has been worse, and its progress in creating a genuine private sector has been slower. The collapse of the Ukrainian karbovanets against both the dollar and the ruble after full monetary independence at the end of 1992 underlines that the major problem in Ukraine was economic policy.

The economic strategy of Ukraine after independence was a form of "gradualism," implemented by ex-communists who realized that something called economic reform was called for but who were not willing to take the decisive measures required. This same strategy was followed by both the Fokin and Kuchma governments, although the latter claimed to be in favor of radical reform. The Kuchma government did not act decisively on the budget, credit, privatization, or liberalization.

Even in comparison with the incomplete reforms that began in Russia during 1992, Ukraine fared badly. Ukraine undoubtedly fell behind Russia in terms of initiating privatization and liberalizing internal trade. Our research suggests that these measures already mean better availability of goods, particularly food, in at least some parts of Russia compared with Ukraine ( Johnson and Ustenko, 1993c).

It is true that Russia has also failed to bring inflation completely under control, but during the summer and fall of 1993 there was an acceleration of inflation in Ukraine but not in Russia. During 1992 and 1993 Russia moved further in terms of reforming public finance and negotiating meaningful economic assistance from the West. The West appears willing to help Ukraine, but through 1993 Ukraine had yet to come up with an economic policy to which Western assistance would make a significant difference.

There were some positive signs in terms of new economic developments, particularly outside the state sector. However, the continuation of inflation cannot be considered helpful to these new forms of business.

-75-

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First Steps toward Economic Independence: New States of the Postcommunist World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1- Introduction 1
  • References 21
  • I- FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS 23
  • 2- Estonia 25
  • CONCLUSIONS 43
  • Notes 45
  • Notes 48
  • 3- Ukraine 50
  • Conclusion 75
  • References 77
  • 4- Kazakhstan 80
  • 4- Kazakhstan 80
  • Notes 107
  • Notes 107
  • 5- Georgia 112
  • Notes 134
  • II- FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS 137
  • CONCLUSIONS 161
  • Notes 162
  • Notes 163
  • 7- Croatia 166
  • Conclusion 185
  • Notes 186
  • Notes 191
  • 8- Macedonia 193
  • Notes 219
  • Notes 221
  • III- OTHER CASES 227
  • 9- Slovakia 229
  • Notes 255
  • Index 259
  • About the Editor and Contributors 267
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