Marxism, Central Planning, and the Soviet Economy

Economic Essays in Honor of Alexander Erlich

Edited by Padma Desai





This book contains important contributions by prominent economic theorists - among them Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow - and by leading experts on Marxist economic thought and the Soviet economy such as Abram Bergson. The book opens with an introductory essay by Padma Desai on the life and work of Alexander Erlich, the distinguished Russian-born economist and Sovietologist. Essays in the first part of the book focus on central tenets in Marxist economic theory, and are by Samuelson ("Marx without Matrixes: Understanding the Rate of Profit"), Duncan Foley, and John Roemer. The book's second part covers resource allocation and international comparisons of Centrally Planned Economies (CPEs), Arrow, Desai and Ricardo Martin, and Richard Ericson address the issues of efficient resource allocation. Bergson and Martin Weitzman deal in separate essays with the problems of comparing CPE economic performance with that of a market economy, whereas Franklyn Holzman discusses the interactions between CPEs and market economies in his study of dumping, "The Polish Golf Cart Case." Richard Portes compares central planners and monetarists, suggesting that they might be "fellow travelers" who follow the same economic road for a considerable distance before their paths diverge. The final part of the book explores several key aspects of the Soviet economy. Holland Hunter writes on Soviet planning in the 1930s and Gregory Grossman, in "Economics of Virtuous Haste," examines post-revolutionary industrialization. Joseph Berliner discusses the issues of social structure and fertility, and, in the final essay, Robert Campbell reviews energy pricing policies and decisions on energy use in the USSR.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262040716 305 pp. | 6.3 in x 9.1 in


Padma Desai

Padma Desai is the Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Comparative Economic Systems and director of the Center for Transition Economies at Columbia University. A leading scholar of the Russian economy, she is the author of Conversations on Russia: Reform from Yeltsin to Putin, which was the Financial Times Pick of the Year in 2007, and coathor of Work Without Wages: Russia's Non-Payment Crisis (MIT Press). Her most recent book, on the current economic crisis, is From Financial Crisis to Global Recovery.


  • A unique collection of essays providing perceptive insights on Soviet economic development pay fitting honor to one of the major figures in the field.

    John P. Hardt

    Associate Director for Senior Specialists

  • This festschrift to Alexander Ehrlich is a fine tribute to an admired and influential scholar. It contains some important papers on Marxian economics, on the theoretical analysis of central planning and on Soviet economic practice. In both the breadth of its subject matter and the quality of the individual contributions, this volume is a worthy act of homage.

    Philip Hanson

    Centre for russian and East European Studies, The University of Birmingham

  • This is a rich, well-edited collection of articles on centrally planned economies ranging broadly from the intricacies of Marxist theory and resource allocation analysis to the index-number theoretics of Soviet defense spending. It will contribute to the growing interest in the field of economic planning. It is a fitting tribute to the work of Alexander Erlich.

    Herbert S. Levine

    Professor of Economics, University of Pennsylvania