The Development of Cities and Municipalities in Central and Eastern Europe: Introduction for a Special Issue of 'Urban Research and Practice'
Urban Research & Practice, Vol. 7 (3),
Since the 1990s, local governments in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries have been confronted by completely new structures and developments. This came after more than 40 years (or even longer in the case of the former Soviet Union) under a socialist regime and behind an iron curtain which isolated them from the non-socialist world. A lack of resources had led to an underinvestment in the refurbishment of older buildings, while relatively cheap ‘prefabricated’ housing had been built, not only in the outskirts of cities, but also within city centres. A lack of resources had also resulted in the fact that the socialist regimes were generally unable to replace old buildings with ‘modern’ ones; hence, there is a very rich heritage of historical monuments in many of these cities today. The centrally planned economies and the development of urban structures (including the shifts of population between cities and regions) were determined by ideology, political rationality and the integration of all CEE countries into the production schemes of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and its division of labour by location. The sudden introduction of a market economy, private property, democratic rules, local autonomy for cities and municipalities and access to the global economy and society may be seen as a kind of ‘natural experiment’. How would these new conditions shape the national systems of cities and municipalities? Which cities would shrink and which would grow? How would the relationship between core cities and their surrounding municipalities develop? And what would happen within these cities and with their built environment?
The Impact of Preferences on Early Warning Systems - The Case of the European Commission's Scoreboard
European Journal of Political Economy,
The European Commission’s Scoreboard of Macroeconomic Imbalances is a rare case of a publicly released early warning system. It allows the preferences of the politicians involved to be analysed with regard to the two potential errors of an early warning system – missing a crisis and issuing a false alarm. These preferences might differ with the institutional setting. Such an analysis is done for the first time in this article for early warning systems in general by using a standard signals approach, including a preference-based optimisation approach, to set thresholds. It is shown that, in general, the thresholds of the Commission’s Scoreboard are set low (resulting in more alarm signals), as compared to a neutral stand. Based on political economy considerations the result could have been expected.
Smuggling Illegal Goods Across the US–Mexico Border: A Political-economy Perspective
Applied Economics Letters,
We analyse the impact that political business cycles and party preferences have on smuggling illegal goods across the US–Mexico border during the years 1980–2004. We find that smuggling is significantly reduced prior to Congressional elections – but only if the incumbent President is Republican.
Can Korea Learn from German Unification?
IWH Discussion Papers,
We first analyze pre-unification similarities and differences between the two Germanys and the two Koreas in terms of demographic, social, political and economic status. An important issue is the degree of international openness. “Stone-age” type communism of North Korea and the seclusion of the population prevented inner-Korean contacts and contacts with rest of the world. This may create enormous adjustment costs if institutions, especially informal institutions, change. We go on by showing how transition and integration interact in a potential unification process based on the World Bank Revised Minimum Standard Model (RMSM) and on the Salter-Swan-Meade model. In doing so, we relate the macro and external impacts on an open economy to its macro-sectoral structural dynamics. The findings suggest that it is of utmost importance to relate microeconomic policies to the macroeconomic ties and side conditions for both parts of the country. Evidence from Germany suggests that the biggest general error in unification was neglecting these limits, especially limitations to policy instruments. Econometric analysis supports these findings. In the empirical part, we consider unification as an “investment” and track down the (by-and-large immediate to medium-term) costs and the (by-and-large long-term) benefits of retooling a retarded communist economy. We conclude that, from a South-Korean
perspective, the Korean unification will become relatively much more expensive than the German unification and, thus, not only economic, but to a much larger degree political considerations must include the tying of neighboring countries into the convergence process. We finally provide, 62 years after Germany’s division and 20 years after unification, an outlook on the strength of economic inertia in order to show that it may take much more than a generation to compensate the damage inflicted by the communist system.
Governmental Learning as a Determinant of Economic Growth
Systemic economic transition is a process of determined radical institutional change, a process of building new institutions required by a market economy. Nowadays, the experience of transition countries with the implementation of new institutions could be reviewed as a method of economic development that despite similar singular steps has different effects on the domestic economic performance. The process of institutional change towards a market economy is determined by political will, thus the government plays an important role in carrying out the economic reforms. Among the variety of outcomes and effects the attention is drawn especially to economic growth that diverges significantly in different post-transition countries. The paper attempts to shed light upon the problem on the basis of institutional economics, of economics of innovation and partially of political economy of growth using an evolutionary, process-oriented perspective. In this context the issue central to the promotion of economic growth is the successful implementation of new institutions through governmental activities. The paper shows that under the conditions of bounded rationality and radical uncertainty economic growth is determined, inter alia, by the capacity for governmental learning.
Analysis of statements made in favour of and against the adoption of competition law in developing and transition economies
The paper is concerned with documenting and assessing statements made by policymakers, opinion formers, and other stakeholders in favour and against the adoption of competition laws with particular reference to transition and developing countries which have not yet enacted these kind of laws. For example, claims that competition enforcement might reduce the inflow of foreign direct investment, or that other policies are successfully used as substitutes for competition law, are assessed. In a first step, the method of generalized analysis structures the list of statements around core issues of common features to make them accessible to further interpretation and assessment. The paper shows that some claims are in fact country or region specific, and specific to the development level of the respective countries. In a second step, the core issues are assessed according to economic and legal criteria. Since the analysis focuses on transition and developing countries, the criteria for economic assessment are predominantly economic growth and development issues, but also include the economic coherency of a set of claims submitted by stakeholders in a given country. The criteria for legal assessment include whether claims are problematic in light of WTO-principles, or are even born out of a political objective which is incompatible with the spirit, if not the letter of WTO-rules.
Investment, Financial Markets, New Economy Dynamics and Growth in Transition Countries
Economic Opening Up and Growth in Russia: Finance, Trade, Market Institutions, and Energy,
The transition to a market economy in the former CMEA area is more than a decade old and one can clearly distinguish a group of relatively fast growing countries — including Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia — and a majority of slowly growing economies, including Russia and the Ukraine. Initial problems of transition were natural in the sense that systemic transition to a market economy has effectively destroyed part of the existing capital stock that was no longer profitable under the new relative prices imported from world markets; and there was a transitory inflationary push as low state-administered prices were replaced by higher market equilibrium prices. Indeed, systemic transformation in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have brought serious transitory inflation problems and a massive transition recession; negative growth rates have continued over many years in some countries, including Russia and the Ukraine, where output growth was negative throughout the 1990s (except for Russia, which recorded slight growth in 1997). For political and economic reasons the economic performance of Russia is of particular relevance for the success of the overall transition process. If Russia would face stagnation and instability, this would undermine political and economic stability in the whole of Europe and prospects for integrating Russia into the world economy.