This paper looks at the dynamics of (dis)equilibria during post-command transition. It tries to define an optimal mix between external and internal disequilibrium and to apply this concept to the analysis of the Romanian economy. The forced adjustment of the balance of payments in the 1980s is presented as a prologue to the scrutiny of transformation policy underway; results and dilemmas of macro-stabilization are dealt with in this respect. The paper ends by providing some insights into the problematique of understanding (dis)equilibria in transforming economies.
The paper considers that strain is the main source of inter-enterprise arrears in post-command economies. Strain can be linked with the structure of the economy and the size of resource misallocation. Inter-enterprise arrears “soften” markets and operate as a self-protecting device against the pressure for change. As temporary quasi-inside money, arrears fuel inflation. A paradox of policy credibility in undertaking structural adjustment is emphasized. Rising exports can be a possible side effect of arrears and a constraining factor: the size of the economy is seen as affecting the relationship between arrears and exports. An operational framework for containing arrears would Include: “breaking up” structure; Imposing a disciplining “straitjacket” on structure; industrial policy (“picking losers among losers”) and targeted external assistance. Containing arrears can not be a one shot policy-drive; here one deals with a process that will overlap in time with the evolving environment.
The paper analyzes common issues emerging from the recent experience with Fund-supported programs in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. These comprise the initial price-overshooting and the output collapse, fiscal sustainability as well as the financial and structural problems associated with bad loan portfolios and sluggish implementation of privatization programs. Substantial success, in varying degrees, has been achieved in the initial macro-stabilization and opening-up effort. At the same time mounting difficulties with fiscal and monetary control may be emerging, as a result of social and political pressures and insufficiently clear policy signals on the micro-issues involving the sharp structural transformation of the productive and financial systems.