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So following in the wake of the cool NRx kids I finally got round to making myself an Ask.fm account.

Here it is: http://ask.fm/akarlin88

Feel free to ask me questions there. I can see the more thought-provoking questions ending up as individual blog posts.

The first original question I got was (for whatever random reason) about my attitudes towards Hungary’s goulash communism.

What do you make of Hungary’s ‘goulash communism’?

The least bad of all the centrally planned economies (but that is not exactly a high bar). Anecdotally, Hungarians enjoyed some of the highest consumer prosperity in the Communist bloc, on a par with East Germany or Czechoslovakia. Statistically, they had a ~25% higher GDP per capita than Poland according to Angus Maddison’s estimates, though they lagged Czechoslovakia and East Germany. After the collapse of socialism Hungary fell relatively behind; Poland has now equalized with or even slightly overtaken them. Many liberal economists would attribute this to the “statism” and lack of “reforms” of post-Communist Hungarian governments, but I think the main explanation is far more prosaic: Goulash communism simply didn’t suppress Hungary’s potential output under optimal (free market) conditions as did the more conventional, rigid centrally planned economies of the rest of the Communist bloc. Contrary to neoliberal propaganda, Poland reformed, deregulated, and privatized slowly and cautiously for the most part, but still managed to be the star performer of the post-Communist transition. This suggests that so long as you have market mechanisms in place it doesn’t *cardinally* matter if your economy is 20% or 50% state-owned, or whether you are 10th or 50th on the World Bank’s East of Doing Business index.

 
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  1. Do you believe it is possible for the Russian Far East to fully integrate with the Northeast asian economic hub ? For some reason I cant accesses Ask.Fm.

  2. Reminds me of /int/s”Ask a/an … everything” threads.

  3. In the 1990s Hungary was still doing relatively well. Then in the 2000s (2002-2010) there was a really really disastrous leftist government that majestically screwed up. (A previous leftist government 1994-98 didn’t screw things up so much.) So much so, that since 2010 they seem to be unelectable, this explains a lot about why Hungary is so ‘right wing’ and ‘nationalist’. (It wasn’t too nationalist in the 1990s, and it’s still not very nationalist or right wing. It’s just that somehow politics moved to the right since the majestic screwup of the leftist governments discredited not only them, but the whole leftist intelligentsia that kept cheering for them even when they became obvious failures, and it created a new nationalist party, Jobbik, which now seems to be the only important rival of the ruling conservative Fidesz – who are also to the right of basically all European conservative parties. It’s important to note that Fidesz started out as a liberal party, and was a member of the Liberal International until something like 1999. So again, Hungary wasn’t much of a right wing country during the 1990s or even in the 2000s.)

    After 2010 we didn’t have a chance of recovering, because the crisis coupled with a huge external debt piled up during the leftist governments crippled the Hungarian economy. I think long-term we’re somewhere around the same potential as the Slovaks and Poles. Which might be a bit lower than the Slovenes or Czechs, the latter probably having lower potential than Austria or Germany.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    @reiner Tor

    Looks like the Hungarian leftists screwed up like the Russian liberals.
    If only Orbán had good principles...

  4. @reiner Tor
    In the 1990s Hungary was still doing relatively well. Then in the 2000s (2002-2010) there was a really really disastrous leftist government that majestically screwed up. (A previous leftist government 1994-98 didn't screw things up so much.) So much so, that since 2010 they seem to be unelectable, this explains a lot about why Hungary is so 'right wing' and 'nationalist'. (It wasn't too nationalist in the 1990s, and it's still not very nationalist or right wing. It's just that somehow politics moved to the right since the majestic screwup of the leftist governments discredited not only them, but the whole leftist intelligentsia that kept cheering for them even when they became obvious failures, and it created a new nationalist party, Jobbik, which now seems to be the only important rival of the ruling conservative Fidesz - who are also to the right of basically all European conservative parties. It's important to note that Fidesz started out as a liberal party, and was a member of the Liberal International until something like 1999. So again, Hungary wasn't much of a right wing country during the 1990s or even in the 2000s.)

    After 2010 we didn't have a chance of recovering, because the crisis coupled with a huge external debt piled up during the leftist governments crippled the Hungarian economy. I think long-term we're somewhere around the same potential as the Slovaks and Poles. Which might be a bit lower than the Slovenes or Czechs, the latter probably having lower potential than Austria or Germany.

    Replies: @Mitleser

    Looks like the Hungarian leftists screwed up like the Russian liberals.
    If only Orbán had good principles…

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