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Kornai: Shortage versus Surplus Economies

D. Mario Nuti ()
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D. Mario Nuti: Faculty of Economics, Sapienza University of Rome

Acta Oeconomica, 2018, vol. 68, issue supplement1, 85-98

Abstract: The economics of institutions and comparative systems owes an enormous debt to János Kornai. This was well exemplified by Kornai (2014a), offering a synthetic characterization of socialism and capitalism, respectively, as shortage and surplus economies. I was very fortunate, over the last fifty years, to have had many opportunities to meet him and to talk to him, and to discuss these issues directly with him. János can be very persuasive, and over the years I have somewhat converged towards his views, but in this essay, I am going to rehearse one residual major disagreement on the shortage economy, and three reservations on capitalism as the surplus economy which, after discovering from talking to him that he was in basic sympathy with them, I have downgraded to qualifications.

Keywords: socialism; shortages; capitalism; surplus; post-socialist transition; soft budget constraints; inflation; innovation; democracy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E2 L2 O3 P1 P2 P3 P5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Conference on “Institutions that change the World”, organized by World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR ), Greenwich, London, September 14, 2014. I thank János Kornai, Stanislaw Gomulka, Milica Uvalic and Péter Mihályi for their helpful comments on the earlier draft, and János also for access to unpublished work of his. Of course, I take sole responsibility for any errors or omissions.
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