Anders Åslund foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union in his book Gorbachev's Struggle for Economic Reform (1989). He depicted the success of Russia's market transformation in How Russia Became a Market Economy (1995). After Russia's financial crisis of 1998, Åslund insisted that Russia had no choice but to adjust to the world market (Building Capitalism, 2001), though most observers declared the market economic experiment a failure. Why did Russia not choose Chinese gradual reforms? Why are the former Soviet countries growing much faster than the Central European economies? How did the oligarchs arise? Who is in charge now? These are just some of the questions answered in How Capitalism Was Built, covering twenty-one former communist countries from 1989 to 2006. Anybody who wants to understand the confusing dramas unfolding in the region and to obtain an early insight into the future will find this book useful and intellectually stimulating.
The fall of communism 25 years ago transformed the political and economic landscape in more than two dozen countries across Europe and Asia. In this volume political leaders, scholars, and policymakers assess the lessons learned from the “great rebirth” of capitalism, highlighting the policies that were the most successful in helping countries make the transition to stable and prosperous market economies, as well as those cases of countries reverting to political and economic authoritarianism. The authors of these essays conclude that visionary leadership, and a willingness to take bold and comprehensive steps, achieved the best outcomes, and that privatization of state-owned enterprises and deregulation were essential to success. Recent backsliding, such as the reversal of economic and democratic reforms in Russia and Hungary, has cast a shadow over the legacy of the transition a quarter century ago, however.