Chapter 3: Transition and growth in Belarus
Marina Bakanova, Lúcio Vinhas de Souza, Irina Kolesnikova and Ivan Abramov The stylized pattern of post-reform growth of a transition economy is characterized by a sharp initial fall of output followed by recovery and growth.1 Although the trajectory of Belarusian growth has the expected U-shape, there are some peculiarities about both the declining and increasing parts.2 The cumulative output fall from 1990 in Belarus was less than in almost all the CIS countries but higher than in most Central and Eastern European transition economies. Belarus’s output recovered relatively early (compared to other CIS countries), and the observed high rates of the oﬃcially recorded economic growth in 1997–98 were in contrast to the negative or very low growth rates in most CIS countries. The only exception was Uzbekistan, and since in both Belarus and Uzbekistan this had by no means been due to the progress in transition reforms, these cases somewhat challenged the standard transition paradigm in the late 1990s and were even called ‘puzzles’ by a few.3 Here we attempt to help solve this puzzle through a closer look at the particular transition path chosen by Belarus, to understand the reasons for the relatively shallow contraction, the early recovery, the exceptionally high growth rates in 1997–98 and their slowdown afterwards, and thus to question whether there was or is such a thing as the ‘Belarusian miracle’. This chapter starts with the analysis of Belarus’s initial conditions in order to get a deeper understanding of the scope...
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