Aslund on Russia's Capitalist Revolution


January 8, 2008, 3:00 AM EST
InfoShop at the World Bank, Washington, DC

Event Summary

The Peterson Institute and the InfoShop at the World Bank held a discussion meeting at which Anders Åslund presented the conclusions in his latest book, Russia's Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed. Joining him in the discussion from the World Bank were Branko Milanovi and Pradeep Mitra.

The Russian revolution, collapse of the Soviet Union, and Russia's ensuing transformation belong to the greatest dramas of our time. Revolutions are usually messy and emotional affairs, challenging much of the conventional wisdom, and Russia's experience is no exception. This book focuses on the transformation from Soviet Russia to Russia as a market economy and explores why the country has failed to transform into a democracy. It examines the period from 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet Union's Secretary General of the Communist Party, to the present Russia of Vladimir Putin. Åslund provides a broad overview of Russia's economic change, highlighting the most important issues and their subsequent resolutions, including Russia's inability to sort out the ruble zone during its revolution, several failed coups, and the financial crash of August 1998.

Event Materials

Presentation: Russia's Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed [pdf]
January 8, 2008

Book: Russia's Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed
October 2007

About Anders Åslund
Dr. Åslund, known to repeatedly challenge conventional wisdom on "transition economies," is a leading specialist on postcommunist economic transformation with more than 30 years of experience in the field. He boldly predicted the fall of the Soviet Union in his Gorbachev's Struggle for Economic Reform (1989). In Building Capitalism: The Transformation of the Former Soviet Bloc (2002) he firmly stated that the only choice Russia had was market reform. In this new book, he explains why Russia's market reform succeeded and democracy building failed.

Before joining the Peterson Institute he was the director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and he codirected the Carnegie Moscow Center's project on Post-Soviet Economies. Åslund has also worked as an economic adviser to the Russian government (1991–94), to the Ukrainian government, and to the president of the Kyrgyz Republic. He was founding director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics and professor at the Stockholm School of Economics (1989–94).

About Pradeep Mitra
Mr. Mitra is the World Bank's Chief Economist for Europe and Central Asia, a region which includes the countries of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Turkey. He was Chief of Country Operations for Russia during the mid-nineties and then served as Director in charge of the Bank's economists working on poverty reduction, economic management, and public sector institutional reform in the Europe and Central Asia region. He has published widely in public economics, macroeconomics and development economics, including Transition: The First Ten Years, Analysis and Lessons for Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

About Branko Milanovic
Mr. Milanovic is a lead economist in the World Bank's research department, where he has been working on the topics of income inequality and globalization. Previously, he was a World Bank country economist for Poland and a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Sciences in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Since 1996, Milanovic has also served as a visiting professor teaching the economics of transition at the Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies. Moreover, Mr. Milanovic has served as a senior associate on a two-year assignment with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Global Policy Program, and he focused his research on globalization and world income distribution, as well as the interaction between politics, reform, and inequality in transition countries.