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November 06 , 2008

Privatizing Eastern Europe

The Role of Markets and Ownership in the Transition


This volume is meant to be a modest contribution to the ongoing debate about the transitions away from the administrative planning environment typical of the former communist regimes. The central subject matter is a fairly special one, namely the privatization of these economies together with the restoration and effective monitoring of property rights. These are paramount tasks of the ongoing transformations once progress toward pOlitical democracy is secured. Though I would not allot divestment of existing state-owned assets the kind of pivotal importance that some observers reserve for it, changing rules on the utilization of these assets is evidently at the core of what the transition toward market-based economic systems should be all about. Rather than examining the entire range of issues that surround the controvery on privatization, this volume is primarily concerned with the economics of taking the state out of the decision making about existing assets. Among the several aspects of this discussion three stand out. One is the establishment of clear property rights. This is fundamental to minimize trans­ action costs in an environment where decisions will increasingly be taken by independent economic agents acting on their own account. Second, I look only incidentally at the various angles of creating capital markets, particularly for existing assets, in these economies.
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