Book: Death of the empire by Yegor Gaidar

I have finished reading a book written by ex-prime minister of Russia, Yegor Gaidar. The book is titled "Death of the Empire". Being a good economist, Gaidar explains the fall of the USSR by economic reasons. Some key quotations are:

"The dependence of wheat harvests on the weather, caused by the developing of virgin lands in the 1950s and the low oil prices made the situation catastrophic. This was the reason of the fall of the Soviet economic system."
"The Soviet government was absolutely convinced that the state can use unlimited violence to suppress the discontent. Such states are fragile since they do not include flexible adaptive mechanisms which would allow for the adaptation to the changing world."
"[The actions of the current Russian government] form a way to the system which may be called a closed (or managed) democracy, or soft authoritarianism. This system has little common features with the Soviet totalitarian system, but it begins to show weaknesses and elements of instability typical for such systems... However, the remaining elements of freedom and flexibility still give some hope for Russia. "

While reading the book, I made some short (well, not so short, as it turned out :)) notes and I plan to translate them into English and post here. Below is the table of contents of the book.

  • 1 Foreword
    • 1.1 Post-imperial syndrome in Russia.
  • 2 Greatness and fall of the empires.
    • 2.1 Empires of the past
    • 2.2 Crisis of the overseas empires
    • 2.3 Problems of the dissolution of integrated empires
    • 2.4 The Yugoslav tragedy
  • 3 Causes of the instability of authoritarian regimes
    • 3.1 Instability
    • 3.2 Mechanisms of the fall of authoritarianism
  • 4 The oil curse.
    • 4.1 Resource wealth and economic development.
    • 4.2 Specific features of the oil market
    • 4.3 Regulation of the oil market in the XX century
    • 4.4 Challenges linked with the fall of the raw materials prices: Mexico and Venezuela.
    • 4.5 Response to the threats of the prices volatility
  • 5 Crevices in the foundation. USSR in early 1980s
    • 5.1 Ineffectiveness in stability
    • 5.2 Growing problems and wrong solutions
    • 5.3 Problems of the food supply
    • 5.4 Food shortage: strategic challenge
    • 5.5 USSR as the largest food importer
    • 5.6 Oil of the West Siberia. Illusion of rescue
    • 5.7 Falling oil prices: the last strike
    • 5.8 Dissolution of the USSR: unexpected regularity
  • 6 Political economy of external shocks
    • 6.1 USSR and the falling oil prices. The gist of the choice.
    • 6.2 Chain of mistakes
    • 6.3 Growing problems of the Soviet economy
    • 6.4 Currency crisis
    • 6.5 Economical and political liberalization against the background of financial problems
  • 7 Developing crisis of the socialist economical and political systems
    • 7.1 Problems of the oil industry
    • 7.2 Political credits
    • 7.3 Price of the compromises
    • 7.4 Crisis of the empire and the national question
    • 7.5 Loss of control
    • 7.6 From crisis to catastrophe
    • 7.7 "Extraordinary efforts" instead of reforms
    • 7.8 On the edge of default
  • 8 On the road to the state bankruptcy
    • 8.1 Currency crisis. 1991
    • 8.2 Grain problem
    • 8.3 Prices fly upwards
    • 8.4 Money and the fate of the empire
  • 9 The end
    • 9.1 Political economy of the failed coup
    • 9.2 Political agony
    • 9.3 Political desintegration: political consequences
    • 9.4 Civilized divorce
  • 10 Afterword

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