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Orenstein_What Happened in East European Economies

Orenstein_What Happened in East European Economies - East...

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http://eep.sagepub.com/ Societies East European Politics & http://eep.sagepub.com/content/23/4/479 The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0888325409342109 September 2009 2009 23: 479 originally published online 16 East European Politics and Societies Mitchell A. Orenstein for Neoliberal Reform What Happened in East European (Political) Economies? : A Balance Sheet Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: American Council of Learned Societies can be found at: East European Politics & Societies Additional services and information for http://eep.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Email Alerts: http://eep.sagepub.com/subscriptions Subscriptions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Permissions: http://eep.sagepub.com/content/23/4/479.refs.html Citations: at UNIV OF SOUTH CAROLINA on January 16, 2011 eep.sagepub.com Downloaded from
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479 East European Politics and Societies Volume 23 Number 4 Fall 2009 479-490 © 2009 SAGE Publications 10.1177/0888325409342109 http://eeps.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com What Happened in East European (Political) Economies? A Balance Sheet for Neoliberal Reform Mitchell A. Orenstein Johns Hopkins University Assessing the results of neoliberal reform remains controversial even twenty years after 1989. While neoliberal reform programs appeared to have finally produced rapid eco- nomic growth in the 2000s after a long transitional recession, the 2008 global economic meltdown plunged Central and East European countries back into crisis. This article offers a mixed assessment of the results of neoliberal economic reforms and questions the easy compatibility of democracy and radical reform observed during the 1990s. Since the 2000s, both democratic and authoritarian countries in Eastern Europe have experienced rapid growth. Geopolitics, more than reform or democracy, seems to sepa- rate the winners from the losers. Successful countries are those that either joined the European Union or developed close political and economic relations with Russia. Those betwixt and between and those suffering internal strife (or both) still have not reached 1989 levels of economic production. Keywords: neoliberal; economic; reform; Central and Eastern Europe I n the past decade, one has increasingly heard the claim that the transition in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is over. The drama of transition has been replaced by a boring if prosperous normality. While the global financial crisis imper- ils this normality, the publication of a devastating new attack on the effects of mass privatization in the Lancet , a leading medical journal, shows that assessments of neoliberal economic policies remain hotly contested. The Lancet takes aim at one of the central policies of the capitalist revolutions of 1989, mass privatization. Its authors, David Stuckler, Lawrence King, and Martin McKee (2009), claim that rapid privatization through vouchers, a key tenet of neo- liberal economic policy in the region, is strongly associated with increases in mortal- ity rates in post-Communist countries from 1989 to 2002. 1
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