This paper examines the influence of economic liberalization and monetary growth on inflation during the transition from central plan to market. It concludes that price decontrol had a substantial, one-time effect on the price level but no lasting effect on inflation; that economic liberalization broadly defined may have helped dampen price increases; and that monetary expansion has been the fundamental determinant of inflation in the region. The paper also finds that the intensity of liberalization has been related to geographic proximity to market economies, to the size of the underground economy, and to the degree of political freedom.
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.
Ms. Ratna Sahay, Mr. Stanley Fischer, and Mr. Carlos A. Végh Gramont
This paper presents evidence on the behavior of output and inflation in the transition economies during 1992–95. A regression analysis explores the differences in output performance across the transition economies during this period. The paper then engages in a numerical, somewhat speculative, exercise to assess the long-run growth potential of the transition economies. It concludes that it should take about 20 years for the faster reformers to reach current OECD per capita levels.
This paper examines how institutional conditions in transition economies compare with those in the rest of the world using various indicators of governance. The focus is on the countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union but, when possible, transition countries, in Asia and Africa are also considered. The main findings are that transition economies, as a group, are no longer distinguishable from other economies, but at the same time, there are large differences in institutional performance within the group of transition economies. A formal cluster analysis is conducted in order to map transition economies into homogeneous groupings of countries. The results of this analysis highlight that transition economies are found at all clusters (from best to worst institutional performers) and also that a group of five countries, all of which are EU accession countries, appear to have “graduated”: when taking into account their level of income, their institutional conditions are no longer distinguishable from those in the most advanced industrialized countries.
Ms. Nada Mora, Ms. Ratna Sahay, Mr. Jeromin Zettelmeyer, and Mr. Pietro Garibaldi
Between 1991 and 1999, capital flows to 25 transition economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union differed widely in terms of overall levels and the share and composition of private flows. With some exceptions (notably Russia), the main form of private inflows was foreign direct investment. Portfolio investment was volatile and concentrated in a handful of countries. Regressions show that direct investment can be well explained in terms of economic fundamentals, whereas the presence of a financial market infrastructure and a property-rights indicator are the only explanatory variables that seem to have had a robust effect on portfolio investment.
Ms. Ratna Sahay, Mr. Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Mr. Eduardo Borensztein, and Mr. Andrew Berg
What are the relative roles of macroeconomic variables, structural policies, and initial conditions in explaining the time path of output in transition and the large observed differences in output performance across transition economies? Using a sample of 26 countries, this paper follows a general-to-specific modeling approach that allows for differential effects of policies and initial conditions on the private and state sectors and for time-dependent effects of initial conditions. While showing some fragility to model specification, the results point to the preeminence of structural reforms over both initial conditions and macroeconomic variables in explaining cross-country differences in performance and the timing of the recovery.
PIETRO GARIBALDI, NADA MORA, RATNA SAHAY, and JEROMIN ZETTELMEYER
The transition economies in Europe and the former Soviet Union between 1991 and 1999 differed widely in terms of total capital flows and the share and composition of private flows. With some exceptions (notably Russia), the main source of private inflows was foreign direct investment. Portfolio investment was volatile, and concentrated in a handful of countries. Regressions show that direct investment can be well explained in terms of economic fundamentals, whereas the presence of a financial market infrastructure and a property rights indicator are the only explanatory variables that seem to have a robust effect on portfolio investment.