International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
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Recent studies have highlighted the adverse impact of corruption on economic performance. This paper advances the hypothesis that corruption is largely a symptom of underlying weaknesses in public policies and institutions, a formulation that provides deeper insights into economic performance than do measures of “perceived corruption.” The hypothesis is tested by assessing the relative importance of structural reforms vs. corruption in explaining macroeconomic performance in the transition economies. The paper finds that for four widely used measures of economic performance—growth, inflation, the fiscal balance, and foreign direct investment—structural reforms tend to dominate the corruption variable.
The transitional recession in countries of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union has lasted much longer than expected. The legacy of the past and recent policy mistakes have both contributed to the slow progress. As structural reforms and gradual institution building have taken hold, the post-socialist economies have started to recover, with some leading countries building momentum toward faster growth. There is a possibility that in the wider context of globalization several of these emerging market economies will be able to catch up with the more advanced industrial economies in a matter of one or two generations.
What explains Uzbekistan’s unusually mild “transformational recession” and its moderate recovery during 1996-97? We examine potential biases in output measurement, the role of “special factors”—including initial production structure, natural resources, and public investment policies—and sectoral output developments. The main findings are (i) Uzbekistan’s relatively favorable output record is not an artifact of measurement alone; (ii) public investment has had no significant effects on growth; (iii) the mildness of Uzbekistan’s transitional recession can be accounted for by its favorable initial production structure and its self-sufficiency in energy; (iv) unless reforms are significantly accelerated, medium-term growth prospects are mediocre.