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Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989: - page 2 / 22

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The persisting economic problems of transition and the specific characteristics of economic and social thought in Bulgaria reflect the specifics and characteristics of the country’s historical development. Although for a relatively short period, Bulgaria’s socialist past within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) structure was characterized as one of the most integrated and dependent USSR and COMECON economies and possessed the typical planned-economy features; these features do not need to be discussed in detail in this study (see Dobrinsky, 2000). Moreover, the Bulgarian economy lacked political and intellectual opposition during the communist period and was characterized by sporadic dissident activities that hardly compared with those of the other former socialist countries. Even Gorbachev’s Perestroika was met in an extremely original manner by the then Bulgarian state leader comrade, Todor Zhivkov, who stated with a smile that our best strategy would be to “stay low until its over [da se snishim],” although on another occasion he claimed that Bulgaria had introduced Perestroika before Gorbachev and had even carried it through. The absence of Perestroika and of open debate in Bulgaria until 1989 negatively impacted the subsequent development of economic thought, which had to make up for the lost time; therefore, its detrimental impact on economic science was even more significant4). Moreover, as indicated by Sutela and Mau (1998, 35, 36), the Perestroika period is, by itself, extremely important as it undermined the system as well as the erstwhile political economies of planned economies. In 1990, since it was perceived that economic science did not to reflect reality, USSR experienced the emergence of purely empirical and applied schools of thought (such as Tatyana Zaslavskaya, Abel Aganbegyan, etc.). Subsequently, these schools of thought established the appropriate conditions and foundations for the emergence of applied economics.

During the period of socialism, Bulgaria did not offer any innovative economic practices (their claim to paternity over the “new economic mechanism” or over the concept of “dividing ownership from control” was an overstatement—these practices were in fact common to all socialist countries). Moreover, the country did not produce any original economists and none of their economists made any research contributions of international merit, except perhaps for Lyuben Berov (19252006) and Evgeni Mateev (19201997); the word “perhaps” has been used since the nature of such judgment is highly subjective5). If we were to also consider the lack of prominent Bulgarian immigrant economists, the situation becomes completely different from that in Central Europe, Romania, and Serbia6).

Certainly, as compared to the pre-World War II (WWII) period, the situation in Bulgaria appears to have improved: Bulgarian researchers were subsequently integrated in the world scientific exchange and a number of Bulgarian economists gained, to one degree or another, international recognition (Oscar Anderson (18871960), Slavcho Zagorov (18981965)). Oscar Anderson (it is important to note that he was an immigrant from Russia), for example, was cited in Schumpeter’s History of Economic Thought twice as a one of the few researchers with creative proposals regarding the quantitative theory of money (Anderson and Schumpeter were acquaintances and co-founders of the International Econometric Society, see Fisher, 1941, 187, 188)7). I consider a few other economists exceptionally erudite and original within certain limits; their work has not been translated into foreign languages even if it was published abroad. The following is a list of a few such economists: the follower of the Austrian School and disciple of Karl Menger, Simeon Demostenov (18861968), the economic historians Ivan Kinkel (18831945) and Ivan Sakazov (18951939), Naum Dolinski (18901968) from Varna, the statistician Cyril Popov (18701927), the erudite Assen Christophorov (19101970), the practician-intellectual Stoyan Bochev (18811968), the theoretical economists as Georgi Danailov (18721939), Dimitar Mishaikov (18831945),

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