DP738 | Enterprise Reform in Eastern Europe

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Eastern Europe is not well served with straightforward textbook advice. The common wisdom on privatization fails to address the problems created by diffuse ownership and control prior to privatization. Cash auctions may not efficiently match managers and capital stock because of wealth constraints. Standard advice on enterprise restructuring fails to incorporate the effect of the sheer scale of the problem, and the reasons why current profits are a poor guide to future profit opportunities. Finally, introducing Western style unemployment insurance, while lowering the social costs of unemployment, would almost certainly also contribute to its indefinite extension. This paper shows how such problems can be addressed by incorporating incentive problems specific to Eastern Europe into policy design. Sometimes the resulting advice is novel and as yet untried; in some cases successful examples exist. Thus some experimentation is unavoidable. The alternative, however, is declining incomes and increasing social unrest as the consensus underlying the reforms erodes.