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Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989: - page 10 / 22

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overseas, which enabled a number of current Bulgarian scholars to realise their dreams of studying in Western universities (a few such scholars include Iliyan Mihov, Simeon Djankov, Neven Valev, Nikolay Gospodinov, Pavlina Cherneva, Yvailo Izvorsky, Kiril Tochkov, and Dimitar Ialnazov27)). A few foreign trained economists returned from Western countries in order to form the economic team in the cabinet of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (20012005). During their initial years in Bulgaria, various training and retraining programmes were conducted by Western professors, a majority of which were American, (for example, the programmes organised through the Open Society Institute)28) and a number of textbooks were translated.

Although a majority of the economic views that were obtained from overseas were of applied and practical orientation and possessed the characteristics of the eclectic paradigm, they were partially dominated by Keynesian macroeconomics (primarily through the World Bank) and partially by monetarism (through the IMF). These economic views, from the standpoint of economic teaching were standard neo-classical with respect to microeconomics, and from my perspective, primarily Keynesian with respect to macroeconomic theory. In Bulgaria’s case, combining the various theories into one eclectic had and continues to have detrimental consequences; this is because it created the impression of a monolithic and complete economic theory in the West—almost “a supreme and ultimate phase of economic science”—while fundamental discussions were practically regarded as non-existent. Although in the recent years, efforts have been made to rectify this falsehood (transaction costs economics, institutional economics), it will take some time before alternatives for economic teaching and thinking, in general, are created. A few alternatives, at least partially, may be found along the following trends: the concepts of flat tax (IME and Georgi Angelov), a few concepts regarding free banking (Nikolay Nenovsky), the series of papers on economic history and culture (Roumen Avramov, Martin Ivanov, Daniel Vachkov, and Ninel Kioseva), and especially, the reporting of institutions (Garabed Minassyan and Georgi Ganev).

III

Research Topics, Achievements, and Authors

This section considers the achievements in the history of economic thought by reviewing the major topics, styles, ideology, etc., and the work of a few authors. As emphasized earlier, the topics that were investigated by Bulgarian economists were determined on the basis of the major issues and events in the latest economic history of Bulgaria.

First, the general and conceptual issues of transition (transformation), were rarely researched In case these were studied, the research was limited to the framework of standard discussions regarding the speed of reforms (whether a gradual or a shock approach)29), the steps of reforms; liberalisation of prices, privatisation of state-owned enterprises and banks, types of exchange rate regimes, fiscal versus monetary policy mix, foreign debt restructuring and policy, etc. In my opinion, the Bulgarian debate on the philosophy and strategy of reforms did not possess any specific traits; rather the Bulgarian economists either emulated other countries, or followed the IMF recommendations, and, from my point my view, with a definite delay too30). Despite a few more radical reform programs (the Rahn-Utt Plan of 199031)), Bulgaria adopted a slow and tentative changes approach that logically resulted in deceleration of reforms and led to the 1996/1997 crisis. However, it is possible to distinguish between the following two significant approaches to reforms: slow reforms, the concept of which to me personally remains unclear, and fast reforms. With respect to slow reforms, we

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