上海财经大学经济学院
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917期 7月2日 :Origins of China's Dual Track Price System(Isabella Weber, University of London , 经济学讲师)

【主讲】Isabella Weber (University of London , 经济学讲师)

【主题】Origins of China's Dual Track Price System

【时间】2018年7月2日 (周一) 09:00-10:30

【地点】上海财经大学经济学院楼801室

【语言】英文

【摘要】Price reform is a key challenge in the transition from a planned to a more market based economy. Repeated episodes of attempts at market reforms under socialism as well as the transitions post-WWII demonstrate the practical difficulties of designing policies to make prices reflect market signals. The question of how to introduce market mechanisms into price determination under a centrally planned economy has also been subject to a long standing debate starting in modern times with the Socialist Calculation Debate. China’s Dual Track Price System (DTPS) is an innovative solution to this old problem and is widely credited as critical to China’s reform success. Drawing on extensive oral history and document research, this paper explores the origins of China’s DTPS as it emerged in the first decade of reform and opening up, 1978-1988. In this period, the question of how to introduce market mechanisms was debated at least as hotly as the question of whether to embark on market reforms. An analysis of the debate over how to reform China’s price system among Chinese economists and international counterparts shows that two basic approaches competed. On the one hand, the World Bank and Eastern European emigre economists introduced a package reform derived from theories of market socialism which found great resonance with Chinese academic economists. The 1981 World Bank Moganshan Conference was a key event. The proposal entailed a “package reform” which had at its core rapid liberalization of essential prices, analytically akin to the type of price liberalization later implemented in Russia and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, the DTPS emerged out of the agricultural reforms and on the ground bureaucratic practice drawing on an ancient Chinese tradition of state regulation of prices through market participation. While the DTPS was not invented but derived from experimentation, the 1984 Moganshan Youth Conference was important in theoretically rationalizing the practice of the DTPS and thus contributed to national policy making. Nevertheless, the gradual, experimentalist DTPS remained contested by the blueprint approach of a wholesale package reform throughout the 1980s. This paper draws on a close comparison of the two Moganshan conferences to present the key analytical differences between the competing price reform approaches. It is argued that while the origin of the DTPS are to be found in a long tradition of bureaucratic practice, innovative economic research played a critical role in the 1980s in defending the DTPS against package reform.

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