Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989:
A Personal Perspective
The profundity and timing of the collapse of the socialist economies took the economists on both sides of the Iron Curtain by surprise. There were no theories that could explain or analyze the nature of such systemic social events and processes. The soviet-style Marxist political economy, neoclassical theory, and Keynesian interpretations were unable to anticipate, explain, or offer solutions to the real problems.
This paper, explores the intellectual reactions of the Bulgarian economic community to the collapse of the planned economy and to the practical and theoretical challenges of the post-communist period. The following are the three primary objectives of this study: First is a methodological objective, i.e., for explaining the dissemination of economic knowledge, determining its channels, as well as explaining the basic transmission mechanisms of economic theory in Bulgaria after the disintegration of the socialist bloc. Second is a purely informational objective, i.e., to present the major topics and issues studied during the period 19892009 and the findings of the economists working on them. Finally, the third objective and parallel task is to theoretically interpret the development, characteristics, and specificities of the Bulgarian economic thought during that period.
The main conclusion of this study is that although a few interesting studies regarding the Bulgarian economic science have been published, they fail to offer independent and original ideas. The Bulgarian economic perspectives closely follow the trends of western economic science, which itself is currently at crossroads and is encountering numerous challenges.
JEL classifications numbers: B20, B41, P50
A number of benefits may be derived from the studies on economic thought in Bulgaria post 1989. First, the disintegration of the Soviet bloc not only shocked the ordinary people and the politicians, i.e., a shock to the economic practice, but was also marked by profound intellectual drama, which presented a challenge for a majority of the social researchers including economists in these countries. In this sense, it was a shock to economic theory2) as well. Therefore, it is interesting to understand how economists reacted to this shock, and the manner in which they readjusted their research efforts and theoretical postures. We understand that every crisis stimulates new ideas and new economic knowledge. Second, such studies enhance our overall understanding of the manner in which economic knowledge originates and disseminates in general and in peripheral countries in particular, the extent of its peculiarities, its original topics and approaches, the extent to which it imitates the basic economic theories, the manner in which the topics of study are determined, etc. Finally, such studies are useful for ensuring the systematization of topics, authors, and publications, which facilitates further investigations. As for Bulgaria, a research of this kind has rarely been undertaken before, and is, unfortunately, of almost no interest to the general public or specialists3).