By M. DeWeaver
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Additional info for Animal Spirits with Chinese Characteristics: Investment Booms and Busts in the World's Emerging Economic Giant
This is a strategy originally described by Lenin in a 1922 address to the Fourth Congress of the Communist International on his New Economic Policy. The NEP, introduced in the previous year, was a retreat from earlier attempts to achieve a “direct transition to purely socialist forms,” as Lenin put it. These attempts, combined with the disastrous effects of the Russian Civil War, resulted in an economic collapse. The Soviet government had no choice but to restore a measure of private participation in the economy.
This made economic coordination even more difficult and SOCIALIST BOOMS AND BUSTS 33 produced powerful incentives for overinvestment. Ironically, some of the very instabilities the revolution was supposed to eliminate became more extreme. Transferring ownership of the means of production to the state resulted not in a new age of rational resource allocation, but rather in an exaggerated version of the capitalist cycle. This chapter provides a brief excursion into the realms of economic theory and economic history in order to put the origins of today’s investment volatility in perspective.
Because its assets belong to everyone, there is also a sense in which they belong to no one. The same could be said of state-owned assets in other countries. The vague ownership status of Chinese investment is not a characteristic of China per se. It is simply an unavoidable consequence of the large size of China’s state sector. Chinese state-owned entities are not really comparable to widely held stock-exchange-listed companies in a market economy, despite the fact that ownership is diffuse in both cases.