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The Invisible Shining by Balázs Apor

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Roma-Gypsy Presence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 15th-18th Centuries by Lech Mróz received honorable mention for the Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies.

 





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Accidental Occidental

Economics and Culture of Transition in Mitteleuropa,
the Baltic and the Balkan Area

Lajos Bokros, Member of the European Parliament, former Minister of Finance of Hungary, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at CEU

“If political economy, i.e. the interdisciplinary study of interrelationships between political institutions and economic systems, has ever made sense, it is exactly now. Hardly any better example of mutual influence and co-determination between political action and economic behavior can be conceived than the historic transformation of a politically supercharged and embedded system into an economically more autonomous and predisposed one. While in communism the political sphere was more important than the economic one, it is not to say that in capitalism it is exactly the other way round. The interplay between politics and economics in capitalism is more subtle, stochastic, nuanced and balanced. What is important here is that transition, as a process of transforming a closed and exclusionary totalitarian system into an open and more inclusive, democratic polity, involves the restoration of relative autonomy for institutions in all spheres of societal existence, economy, politics, science, education, culture, law, religion, ethics, etc. Structural reforms, implemented throughout the protracted and still ongoing period of transition, have been aiming at achieving this delicate separation by a tremendous amount of deliberate institution building which requires highly professional and deeply political societal governance.” (Excerpt from the book)

“Lajos Bokros is a prominent academic economist and an extremely experienced practitioner of fiscal and market reforms, not only in his native Hungary but also—as an advisor—in many other transition countries. This rare combination of skills has allowed him to write a very interesting book, based on a massive knowledge and a clear analysis. I recommend it not only to the readers in the post-socialist countries but also to those in the West as his book contains important lessons about the value of free markets and the dangers of statism.” - Leszek Balcerowicz, Warsaw School Economics

Contents

FOREWORD
INTRODUCTION

Chapter 1. Communism as an Economic and Societal System in the Twentieth Century
1.1. The theoretical model of the command economy and society
1.2. The historical evolution of Soviet communism
1.3. Three basic models of communism in Central and Eastern Europe

Chapter 2. Transition to Market and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe
2.1. The matrix of structural reforms in transition
2.2. Business sector liberalization
2.3. Macroeconomic stabilization
2.4. Competitive privatization
2.5. Public utility and financial sector privatization
2.6. Restructuring public utilities and financial institutions
2.7. Regulation and supervision of public utilities and financial Institutions
2.8. Public finance and administration
2.9. Subsovereign governments
2.10. Legal and judicial reform
2.11. Matrix reloaded

Chapter 3. Transition for the Twenty-First Century

REFERENCES
INDEX

2013
204 pages
978-615-5225-24-6 cloth $55.00 / €42.00 / £35.00

"There are few people better qualified than Lajos Bokros to write a book on the transition from central planning to the market economy. Bokros is an economist and professor of public policy at the Central European University in Budapest. He was director of the Hungarian State Property Agency, dealing with the privatization of state assets in the early 1990s, and served as minister of fi nance in 1995–96. His banking experience was obtained as chairman and chief executive offi cer of the Budapest Bank in the fi rst half of the 1990s. He is now a member of the European Parliament, in which he serves on the budget committee.
Accidental Occidental consists essentially of two substantial chapters on the communist system of central planning and the transition to a market economy, with a very brief conclusion answering the question of whether the transition in central Europe is finished.
This book is an excellent account of the challenges that transition presents to former centrally planned economies and communist systems. It is a relatively concise account, but the reviewer found the extensive use of footnotes—making up around half of the total text—a disruptive element. Some of Bokros’s most interesting analyses and information are found in these footnotes. - Slavic Review

"Bokros recognizes that functioning market institutions have been consistently the outcome of an open public space and an advanced civil society. This is the area where culture can play a transformative role. It can guarantee that the lands between the German- and the Russian-speaking spaces will be occidental, i.e. part of Western Europe, but not accidentally any more.
A very interesting book written by a scholar who combines the rigor of the academic with the focus of the policy-maker. It offers a rounded and useful public policy analysis of central planning, market transitions and the institutional challenges ahead." - Journal of Economics

"The book's merits are to be found in the distinct tone of an experienced policy-maker who precisely sheds any responsibility for neutrality in favour of pragmatic relevance and effective deliverance. It is in this way usefully demonstrating the operative assumptions of EU and Western economic policy-making, but perhaps more acutely than critical IR is used to." - Europe-Asia Studies

"Lajos Bokros, former Minister of Finance of Hungary and current Member of the European Parliament, has published an overview of the main elements of reform in post-Soviet states. For students of political change, the book draws links between nine different elements of reform. On liberalization of the business sector; On macroeconomic stabilization; On privatization; On the financial sector; On corporate restructuring; On utility and financial sector re-regulation; On public finance administration; On municipal/regional governments; On legal/judicial reform." - http://politicalentrepreneurs.com/

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