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Soviet Economic Decline: Did an Oil Crisis Cause the Transition in the Soviet Union? by Douglas B. Reynolds

Soviet Economic Decline: Did an Oil Crisis Cause the Transition in the Soviet Union? by Douglas B. Reynolds

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This paper assesses whether the decline of the Soviet system was caused because it became increasingly inefficient in the face of resource scarcity, particularly oil scarcity. A planned economy is not flexible enough to reallocate quickly scarce resources that suddenly decline in production. The author suggests that it is no coincidence that Soviet oil output declined by 30 percent from 1988 to 1992, precisely the period when the breakup and capitalist transformation were occurring. This paper postulates that it was the fall in oil production that caused the final breakdown of the Soviet economy. The collapsing Soviet economy then led to the breakup and political change of the Soviet system. Certainly, there were many factors that played a role in the fall of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the “straw” most capable of breaking the proverbial camel’s back was oil. (This paper by Douglas B. Reynolds, “Soviet Economic Decline: Did an Oil Crisis Cause the Transition in the Soviet Union?” was published in The Journal of Energy and Development, autumn 1998, vol. 24, no. 1).
This paper assesses whether the decline of the Soviet system was caused because it became increasingly inefficient in the face of resource scarcity, particularly oil scarcity. A planned economy is not flexible enough to reallocate quickly scarce resources that suddenly decline in production. The author suggests that it is no coincidence that Soviet oil output declined by 30 percent from 1988 to 1992, precisely the period when the breakup and capitalist transformation were occurring. This paper postulates that it was the fall in oil production that caused the final breakdown of the Soviet economy. The collapsing Soviet economy then led to the breakup and political change of the Soviet system. Certainly, there were many factors that played a role in the fall of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the “straw” most capable of breaking the proverbial camel’s back was oil. (This paper by Douglas B. Reynolds, “Soviet Economic Decline: Did an Oil Crisis Cause the Transition in the Soviet Union?” was published in The Journal of Energy and Development, autumn 1998, vol. 24, no. 1).

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03/19/2013

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