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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes Corporate Governance Failures in the Transition

By Stiglitz, Joseph E.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000059070
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.2 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes Corporate Governance Failures in the Transition  
Author: Stiglitz, Joseph E.
Language: English
Subject: Economics, Finance & business, World Bank.
Collections: Economics Publications Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: The World Bank


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Stiglitz, J. E. (n.d.). Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes Corporate Governance Failures in the Transition. Retrieved from


Two economic events have dominated the twentieth century?the socialist/communist experiment that began in the Soviet Union in 1917 and ended with the fall of the Soviet Empire just under a decade ago; and the transition of these economies to market economies during the past decade. There is widespread agreement about the lessons from the first?central planning cannot replace markets, and even market socialism cannot replace the incentives associated with capitalism?incentives to produce goods more cheaply, to produce what consumers want, and to innovate. But the lessons from the second experiment are far more ambiguous, and it is upon these that I want to focus my remarks today. First, the facts, to say the least, are jarring. Figure 1 compares the average growth rate of the economies in transition for the decade prior to the transition with the past decade. {With one exception, the countries have done more poorly since the transition to the market economy than before}. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of these countries have yet to reach their 1989 GDP levels, meaning on average, these countries today are worse off today than they were before the transition (Figure 2). These results are corroborated by other indicators of well being, such as longevity. Figure 3 shows lifespans before and after the transition. Again, the results are bleak ? life expectancy in these countries has fallen on average even while world life expectancy has risen by two years. But even bleaker are the statistics on poverty. For 18 of the 25 countries for which we have data, poverty on average has increased from 4% to 45% of the population, using the $4 a day standard, revealing the devastating changes in standards of living. Figure 4 shows these changes in some of the most severely affected economies. Evidently Russia and several of the other countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have managed to repeal one of the long standing ?laws? of economics, the trade-off between growth (efficiency) and inequality. They have managed to experience lower growth and greater inequality since the transition than before it began.


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