“Perhaps one should not make omelettes…”

“The Soviet model exercised considerable fascination. But many, including communists, who study its evolution, especially the key period which began in 1928, might well feel that somewhere in those years there was a wrong turning. And that no one should follow the trail blazed by Stalin, with its terrible sacrifices, unless some overriding set of circumstances makes other paths impracticable. It is said that cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. In that case, perhaps one should not make omelettes, if the menu happens to provide other choices. Perhaps it is Russia’s tragedy that these choices were absent…” (Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.427)

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The Longest Road to Capitalism

“It was only on 2 April 1991 that a law was adopted ‘on the general principle of entrepreneurship by citizens’, which finally allowed individuals to trade (‘buy, sell, and deal in bonds’) and to employ others. So for the first time since 1930 private trade ceased to be punishable ‘speculation’ , and private employment no longer noxious ‘exploitation’.”(Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.417)

“As a bitter quip asserted, ‘Socialism proved to be the longest road from feudalism to capitalism.'” (p.411)


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On the Necessary Conditions for Rational Bubbles

“Tirole  (1982) has shown that bubbles cannot exist in a model with a finite number of infinite-lived rational agents….

“Tirole (1985) has studied the possibility of bubbles within the Diamond (1965) overlapping generations model. In this model there is an infinite number of finite-lived agents, but Tirole shows that even here a bubble cannot arise because the bubble would eventually become infinitely large relative to the wealth of the economy. This would violate some agent’s budget constraint. Thus bubbles can only exist in dynamically inefficient overlapping-generations economies that have accumulated private capital, driving the interest rate down below the growth rate of the economy. Many economists feel that dynamic inefficiency is unlikely to occur in practice, and Abel, Mankiw, Summers, and Zeckhauser (1989) present empirical evidence that it does not describe the US economy.” (Campbell, Lo, and MacKinlay, The Econometrics of Financial Markets, 1997, pp.259-60)

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Economic Initiative and Bolshevism

“The basic problems of agriculture were not, of course, Khrushchev’s creation. He interfered, reorganized, and campaigned too much, but he had inherited a generation of neglect and impoverishment and a system in which change could come only by order from above, since it treated peasant or even farm-managerial initiative with instinctive suspicion. The word “spontaneity” (samotyok) was never close to Bolshevik hearts, but it was treated as a particularly dirty word in agriculture.” (Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.376)

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The 18-Hour Workday

“[U]nder Khrushchev campaigns to increase output (especially in the most unmechanized and labour-intensive livestock sector), and to expand procurements led to a big rise in labour inputs on the farms, so for many peasants the collective work became their primary occupation. For this purpose neither pay nor conditions were adequate. As late as 1967 there were still recommendations being made that shiftworking for milkmaids be adopted more widely, so as not to have work periods running from 3.45 am to 9.45 pm, which made all private life impossible. The same point was still being made in 1985!” (Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.377)

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Khrushchev’s Agricultural Mismanagement

“Price relativities established in 1958 were in total conflict with the [central economic] plan, especially to expand the output of livestock products. Meat and milk prices were far too low, and Soviet economists had no difficulty in demonstrating that these items were produced at a loss. So the bigger the effort in this direction, the poorer the farms would become.” (Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.374)

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Economic Offenses Under Khrushchev

“It was fortunate that informal links of many kinds kept things more or less on an even keel most of the time. But some of these evidently worried the authorities, as they facilitated embezzlement, or just theft. The introduction on 7 May 1961 of the death penalty for a range of economic offenses (as distinct from counter-revolutionary or treasonable activities) was a sign of alarm.” (Nove, An Economic History of the USSR: 1917-1991, p.369)

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