Given the political, financial, social, and economic conditions inherited from Communist rule, Romania's new government concluded that a shock therapy approach to reform would create unmanageable chaos and enduring instability. Though committed to economic liberalization, decisionmakers espoused a gradualist approach to economic reform. The government pursued its objectives by implementing policies it considered functionally operational. Although Romania experienced the macro dislocations and downturns that are common in transitional economies in the region, the country sustained shallower recessions, lower inflationary spirals, and shorter production losses than many reforming economies. This study analyzes how, against calculated probabilities and within a relatively short time period, Romania has stabilized and assembled all the basic ingredients for a successful transformation from a centralized system to a market-driven economy.
The lessons derivable from Romania's relatively successful experiment with systemic transformation could be beneficial to reform architects in all newly liberalized economies in Eastern Europe. The conclusions of this study reinforce the view that it is imperative to examine and foster the existing preconditions, including political, institutional, and financial components, before subjecting an economy to extensive and intensive shocks that could be judiciously mitigated or circumvented. Unlike other newly liberalized economies in Eastern Europe, where the once disgraced Communists have returned to power, sympathy for a centralized system has been steadily and swiftly declining in Romania. The primary factor in Romania's success, the author claims, is its circumspect approach to reform.
About the Author:
RAPHAEL SHEN is Professor of Economics at the University of Detroit/Mercy. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including, most recently, Ukraine's Economic Reform: Obstacles, Errors, and Lessons (1996) and Restructuring the Baltic Economies: Disengaging Fifty Years of Integration with the USSR (1994).