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Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989: - page 7 / 22





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and theories, and the second deals with modern knowledge that is obtained from outside the country, i.e., from the theories that exist around the world.

As mentioned earlier, the collapse of the planned economy created a knowledge vacuum that required to be filled up, which could logically be effected either by adapting old theories, or by borrowing those of other countries.

In Bulgaria, unlike Russia, for example, the propensity to develop new theories is low16). Overall, there was a continuous debate between the following two alternatives: (i) adapting the communist ideas and their new interpretations (for example, a new reading of the Marxists classics, i.e., a few of their co-operative and non-bureaucratic models of socialism, etc.), a return to the pre-communist economic thought, to a few concepts regarding the specifics of the Bulgarian economic development, and (ii) adapting and in a majority of the cases, retelling the existing economic paradigms of the West—the neo-classical economics, Keynesianism, or monetarism. Essentially, in Bulgaria, although the neo-classical economics was considered the only possible school of thought in microeconomics, Keynesianism and monetarism were considered to be the two main competing schools of thought in macroeconomics. Indeed, the two latter models that were actively used in economic and political discussions were curiously epitomized with soft and acceptable liberalism (Keynesianism) and extreme liberalism (monetarism).

During the initial years of transition, liberal economic ideas were not popular among the Bulgarian scholars (see Evans, 2010). Although they bear a rather limited influence over the public sphere and the debates on transition, a few references to Joseph Schumpeter, to Max Weber (who became a favourite of Bulgarian sociologists), and subsequently to the Austrian School in general and Friedrich Hayek17) in particular, who gained popularity only in the mid-1990s primarily during the currency board’s initial years of operation,18) may be considered.

The transmission of knowledge from the past has been examined in this study. In this case, we can establish a certain form of dependence on the past (path dependence). Virtually all economists in 1989 were associated with the past paradigm and even today a few of them continue, to one degree or another, to be dependent on the dominant theory from the communist period.

Bulgaria not only lacked renowned economists within the Soviet bloc but unlike almost all other Soviet bloc countries, it also lacked local dissident economists19) as well as prominent immigrant scholars. It is also an established fact that the political opposition in Bulgaria was essentially created and institutionalised by the communist party and in fact all of its founders were former Communist party members, which significantly deterred the country’s development at least during the initial 78 years of transition. These processes naturally fuse with a lack of overall geostrategic identification of Bulgaria and its oscillation between the Western model of development and that of Russia’s—a process that was finally resolved in favour of the Western model of development in the late 1990s with the decision to enlarge the EU. Abdelal (2001) effectively represented the processes and consequences of such oscillation for the Ukrainian case

Under Wagener’s editorship (1998), the book regarding the history of economic thought in Central and Eastern Europe does not feature or even mention Bulgaria20). Personally, I cannot definitively explain why Bulgaria lacked prominent economists outside its national boundaries during that period, given the similarity between its repressive regime and those

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