Thursday, 3 January 2013

Planned Economy

A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency.[1][2] A planned economy may be based on either centralized or decentralized forms of economic planning, but usually refers to a centrally-planned economy. The goal of central planning is to enable planners to take advantage of more perfect information through a consolidation of economic resources when making decisions regarding investment and the allocation of economic inputs within production.
In an entirely centrally-planned economy, a universal survey of human needs and consumer wants is required before a comprehensive plan for production can be formulated. The public body responsible for production and resource allocation would require the power to allocate factors of production in order to fulfill the plan, and for overseeing the distribution system of the economy. The most extensive form of a planned economy is referred to as a command economy,[3] centrally planned economy, or command and control economy.[4] In such economies, central economic planning by the state or government directs all major sectors of the economy and formulates decisions about the use of economic inputs and the means of production.[5] Planners would decide what would be produced and would direct lower-level enterprises and ministries to produce those goods in accordance with national and social objectives.[6] Implementation of this form of economy is sometimes called planification.
Planned economies are held in contrast to unplanned economies, such as the market economy and proposed self-managed economy, where production, distribution, pricing, and investment decisions are made by autonomous firms based upon their individual interests rather than upon a macroeconomic plan. Less extensive forms of planned economies include those that use indicative planning as components of a market-based or mixed economy, in which the state employs "influence, subsidies, grants, and taxes, but does not compel."[7] This latter is sometimes referred to as a "planned market economy".[8]
A planned economy may consist of state-owned enterprises, cooperative enterprises, private enterprises directed by the state, or a combination of different enterprise types. Though "planned economy" and "command economy" are often used as synonyms, some make the distinction that under a command economy, enterprises need not follow a comprehensive plan of production. That is, a planned economy is "an economic system in which the government controls and regulates production, distribution, prices, etc."[9] but a command economy, while also having this type of regulation, necessarily has substantial public ownership of industry.[10] Therefore, command economies are planned economies, but not necessarily the reverse.
Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, many governments presiding over planned economies began marketization (or as in the Soviet Union, the system collapsed) and moving toward market-based economies by allowing individual enterprises to make the pricing, production, and distribution decisions, granting autonomy to state enterprises and ultimately expanding the scope of the private sector through privatization. Although most economies today are market economies or mixed economies (which are partially planned), fully planned economies exist in the remaining few countries of Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, and Burma.[11]

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[edit] Economic planning versus the command economy

Economic planning is a mechanism for resource allocation of inputs and decision-making based on direct allocation, in contrast with the market mechanism, which is based on indirect allocation.[12] An economy based on economic planning (either through the state, an association of worker cooperatives or another economic entity that has jurisdiction over the means of production) appropriates its resources as needed, so that allocation comes in the form of internal transfers rather than market transactions involving the purchasing of assets by one government agency or firm by another. Decision-making is carried out by workers and consumers on the enterprise-level.
This is contrasted with the concept of a centrally planned, or command economy, where most of the economy is planned by a central government authority, and organized along a top-down administration where decisions regarding investment, production output requirements are decided upon by planners from the top, or near the top, of the chain of command. Advocates of economic planning have sometimes been staunch critics of command economies and centralized planning. For example, Leon Trotsky believed that central planners, regardless of their intellectual capacity, operated without the input and participation of the millions of people who participate in the economy and understand/respond to local conditions and changes in the economy would be unable to effectively coordinate all economic activity.[13]
Another key difference is that command economies are strictly authoritarian in nature, whereas some forms of economic planning, such as indicative planning, direct the economy through incentive-based methods. Economic planning can be practiced in a decentralized manner through different government authorities. For example, in some predominately market-oriented and mixed economies, the state utilizes economic planning in strategic industries such as the aerospace industry.
Another example of this is the utilization of dirigisme, both of which were practiced in France and Great Britain after the Second World War. Swedish public housing models were planned by the government in a similar fashion as urban planning. Mixed economies usually employ macroeconomic planning, while micro-economic affairs are left to the market and price system.
The People's Republic of China currently has a socialist market economy in place. Within this system, macroeconomic plans are used as a general guidelines and as government goals for the national economy, but the majority of state-owned enterprises are subject to market forces. This is heavily contrasted to the command economy model of the former Soviet Union.[citation needed]

[edit] Planned economies and socialism

While many socialist currents advocated economic planning as an eventual substitute for the market for factors of production, some define economic planning as being based on worker-self management, with production being carried out to directly satisfy human needs, and contrast this with the concept of a command economy of the Soviet Union, which they characterize as being based on a top-down bureaucratic administration of the economy in a similar fashion to a capitalist firm.[14] The Command economy is distinguished from economic planning, and different theories for classifying the socioeconomic system of the Soviet Union exist; most notably a command economy is associated with Bureaucratic collectivism, State capitalism or State socialism.
Furthermore, planned economies are not unique to Communist states. There is a Trotskyist theory of permanent arms economy, put forward by Michael Kidron, which leads on from the contention that war and accompanying industrialisation is a continuing feature of capitalist states and that central planning and other features of the war economy are ever present.[15]

[edit] Transition from a planned economy to a market economy

The shift from a command economy to a market economy has proven to be difficult; in particular, there were no theoretical guides for doing so before the 1990s. One transition from a command economy to a market economy that many[who?] consider successful is that of the People's Republic of China.
By contrast, the Soviet Union's transition was much more problematic and its successor republics faced a sharp decline in GDP during the early 1990s. One of the suggested causes is that under Soviet planning, price ceilings created major problems (shortages, queuing for bread, households hoarding money) which made the transition to an unplanned economy more difficult. While the transition to a market economy proved difficult, many of the post-Soviet states have been experiencing strong, resource-based economic growth in recent years, though the levels vary substantially. However, a majority of the former Soviet Republics have not yet reached pre-collapse levels of economic development.
Still, most of the economic hardship that struck many of the former East Bloc countries and the post-Soviet states comes from the program of shock therapy. The idea behind this program is to convert from a centrally planned economy to a market economy in a short space of time. This means mass-scale privatization, budget cuts and liberalization of economy and finance regulations. This shock therapy program was implemented in several former communist states like Poland and Russia.
Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, is currently experiencing the transition from a command economy under Hussein to a free market economy.[16] Iran is currently privatizing companies.

[edit] Advantages of economic planning

The government can harness land, labor, and capital to serve the economic objectives of the state. Consumer demand can be restrained in favor of greater capital investment for economic development in a desired pattern. The state can begin building a heavy industry at once in an underdeveloped economy without waiting years for capital to accumulate through the expansion of light industry, and without reliance on external financing. This is what happened in the Soviet Union during the 1930s when the government forced the share of GNP dedicated to private consumption from eighty percent to fifty percent.[17] As a result, the Soviet Union experienced massive growth in heavy industry.
The possibility of a digital planned economy was explored by Chile with the creation of Project Cybersyn, the project was a success in many ways but due to the lack of computer technology and need for constant human input was limited in comparison to modern and more advanced technology.[18]

[edit] Disadvantages of economic planning

[edit] Inefficient resource distribution: surplus and shortage

Critics of planned economies argue that planners cannot detect consumer preferences, shortages, and surpluses with sufficient accuracy and therefore cannot efficiently co-ordinate production (in a market economy, a free price system is intended to serve this purpose). This difficulty was notably written about by economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, both of whom called it the "economic calculation problem". These opponents of central planning argue that the only way to determine what society actually wants is by allowing private enterprise to use their resources in competing to meet the needs of consumers, rather those taking resources away and allowing government to direct investment without responding to market signals. According to Tibor R. Machan, "Without a market in which allocations can be made in obedience to the law of supply and demand, it is difficult or impossible to funnel resources with respect to actual human preferences and goals."[19]

[edit] Suppression of economic democracy and self-management

Economist Robin Hahnel notes that, even if central planning overcame its inherent inhibitions of incentives and innovation, it would nevertheless be unable to maximize economic democracy and self-management, which he believes are concepts that are more intellectually coherent, consistent and just than mainstream notions of economic freedom.[20]
Says Hahnel, "Combined with a more democratic political system, and redone to closer approximate a best case version, centrally planned economies no doubt would have performed better. But they could never have delivered economic self-management, they would always have been slow to innovate as apathy and frustration took their inevitable toll, and they would always have been susceptible to growing inequities and inefficiencies as the effects of differential economic power grew. Under central planning neither planners, managers, nor workers had incentives to promote the social economic interest. Nor did impeding markets for final goods to the planning system enfranchise consumers in meaningful ways. But central planning would have been incompatible with economic democracy even if it had overcome its information and incentive liabilities. And the truth is that it survived as long as it did only because it was propped up by unprecedented totalitarian political power."[20]

[edit] Fictional portrayals of planned economies

The 1888 novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy depicts a fictional planned economy in a United States c. the year 2000 which has become a socialist utopia.
The World State in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Airstrip One in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four are both fictional examples of command economies, albeit with diametrically opposed aims: The former is a consumer economy designed to engender productivity while the latter is a shortage economy designed as an agent of totalitarian social control. Airstrip One is organised by the intentionally sarcastically named Ministry of Plenty. Other literary portrayals of planned economies were Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, which was an influence on Orwell's work. Like Nineteen Eighty Four, Ayn Rand's dystopian story Anthem was also an artistic portrayal of a command economy that was influenced by We. The difference is that it was a primitivist planned economy, as opposed to the advanced technology of We or Brave New World.
In Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction novel The Dispossessed, published 1974, mainstream capitalist and state socialist economies on the planet Urras are contrasted with an anarchist self-managed economy on its orbiting twin Anarres.

[edit] See also






Case studies:

[edit] Further reading

  • Gregory Grossman (1987): "Command economy," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 1, pp. 494–95.
  • Carl Landauer (1947): Theory of National Economic Planning. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles, Second edition.
  • Alec Nove (1987): "Planned economy," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 3, pp. 879–85.
  • Myant, Martin; Drahokoupil, Jan (2010), Transition Economies: Political Economy in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 978-0-470-59619-7

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Alec Nove (1987), "planned economy," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 3, pp. 879–80.
  2. ^ See Myant, Martin; Jan Drahokoupil (2010). Transition Economies: Political Economy in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-59619-7. http://www.wiley.com/college/myant.
  3. ^ "Command Economy." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 11 June 2007.
  4. ^ James R. Barth and Gerard Caprio, Jr. China's Changing Financial System: Can It Catch Up With, or Even Drive Growth. Networks Financial Institute. March 2007; Thomas O Bouman and David George Brand. Sustainable Forests: Global Challenges and Local Solutions. Haworth Press 1997 page 91
  5. ^ Myers, Danny. Construction Economics (2004), Spon Press (UK), p. 288
  6. ^ Ollman, Bertell. Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists (1997), Routledge (UK), p. 12
  7. ^ Alec Nove (1987), "Planned Economy," The New Palgrave: A Dictionary of Economics, v. 3, p. 879.
  8. ^ John Barkley (1991). Comparative Economics in Transforming World Economy. MIT. p. 10
  9. ^ planned economy. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: May 11, 2008).
  10. ^ command economy. In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2008) (accessed May 11, 2008).
  11. ^ von Brabant, Jozef M. The Planned Economies and International Economic Organizations, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 16
  12. ^ In Defense of Socialist Planning, by Mandel, Ernest. 1986. From "New Left Review": "Planning is not equivalent to ‘perfect’ allocation of resources, nor ‘scientific’ allocation, nor even ‘more humane’ allocation. It simply means ‘direct’ allocation, ex ante. As such, it is the opposite of market allocation, which is ex post."
  13. ^ Writings 1932-33, P.96, Leon Trotsky.
  14. ^ "Command Economy", Marxists.org Glossary of Terms: http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/c/o.htm
  15. ^ "A Permanent Arms Economy" by Michael Kidron, first printed in International Socialism 1:28 (Spring 1967)
  16. ^ http://www.twq.com/04autumn/docs/04autumn_crocker.pdf
  17. ^ Paul Kennedy. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, pp. 322–3
  18. ^ Анатолий Вассерман: Социализм уже возможен (Anatoly Wasserman: Socialism is Already Possible)
  19. ^ Machan, R. Tibor, Some Skeptical Reflections on Research and Development, Hoover Press
  20. ^ a b Hahnel, Robin. The ABC's of Political Economy, Pluto Press, 2002, 262

[edit] External links



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