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By Arye L. Hillman, Branko Milanovic

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Milanovic evaluates the merits and disadvantages of different privatization procedures. No single approach dominates all others. Each procedure requires trade-offs. If widely spread ownership is sought, free distribution of shares is the best approach. Page 5 Dispersed ownership, however, all but severs the essential monitoring link between owners and managers that underlies incentives for efficiency. Managers would remain uncontrolled and unresponsive to the possibly millions of small shareholders.

Enterprises were comfortably ensconced in the CMEA system, and incentives were such that there was no reason for change, notwithstanding the availability of more technologically sophisticated imported Western capital. The incentives for enterprises to maintain their CMEA orientation were in direct contrast with the need for adjustment and restructuring evoked by the end of the CMEA system. With the demise of CMEA in 1991, not only did the prior assured soft good export demand disappear, but there were additional significant changes.

Chapter 12 illustrates the impact of this change in Hungary. Abel, Hillman, and Tarr ask the counterfactual question: what would the effect on the government budget have been, had the end of the CMEA and the elimination of the associated trade taxes and subsidies occurred one year earlier? The result would have been a substantial decrease in government revenue that would have increased the magnitude of the budgetary deficit by a multifold factor. The broader point is the illustration that departure from the CMEA system can have a substantive budgetary impact that calls for offsetting fiscal policies in the former CMEA economies.

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