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Views From European Periphery Bulgarian Economists During the Great Depression

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Niveau: Supérieur, Doctorat, Bac+8
VIEWS FROM EUROPEAN PERIPHERY BULGARIAN ECONOMISTS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION NIKOLAY NENOVSKY* UNIVERSITY OF WORLD AND NATIONAL ECONOMY, SOFIA LE STUDUIM, UNIVERSITY OF ORLEANS June 2010 Paper presented at ?-Bank Historical Conference “The Great Depression and Economic Thought in Europe's less industrialized countries Revisited” Corfu, 1-2 October 2010 (Version provisoire) Summary In this study I present my views on two main issues. The first deals with the question of how the Bulgarian academic community interprets the Great Depression, in what theoretical models Bulgarian economists think and the practical solutions they offer. This involves elaborating typical elements leading to their theoretical and practical models, highlighting the specific Bulgarian interpretation of depression and the contribution of Bulgarian economists. And most importantly, what makes them gradually realize the structural characteristics of the crisis and in what socio-economic model they see the future state of the economy. The second issue is concerned with identifying the main channels, the main factors leading to the formation of these models and of the Bulgarian knowledge on crises and depressions. The paper is organized in four sections. The first one presents the Bulgarian economic thought on the eve of the Depression grouped in five intellectual traditions. In the second section I presents two main models of interpretation of the Great Depression (cyclical and structural), as well as different forms of the structural model.

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   VIEWS FROM EUROPEAN PERIPHERY BULGARIAN ECONOMISTS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION NIKOLAY NENOVSKY* UNIVERSITY OF WORLD AND NATIONAL ECONOMY, SOFIA LE STUDUIM, UNIVERSITY OF ORLEANS  June 2010   Paper presented at -Bank Historical Conference “The Great Depression and Economic Thought in Europe’s less industrialized countries Revisited” Corfu, 1-2 October 2010  (Version provisoire)  Summary  In this study I present my views on two main issues. The first deals with the question of how the Bulgarian academic community interprets the Great Depression, in what theoretical models Bulgarian economists think and the practical solutions they offer. This involves elaborating typical elements leading to their theoretical and practical models, highlighting the specific Bulgarian interpretation of depression and the contribution of Bulgarian economists. And most importantly, what makes them gradually realize the structural characteristics of the crisis and in what socio-economic model they see the future state of the economy. The second issue is concerned with identifying the main channels, the main factors leading to the formation of these models and of the Bulgarian knowledge on crises and depressions. The paper is organized in four sections. The first one presents the Bulgarian economic thought on the eve of the Depression grouped in five intellectual traditions. In the second section I presents two main models of interpretation of the Great Depression (cyclical and structural), as well as different forms of the structural model. The last sections explain the evolution of economic thinking following the main phases of the crisis (deflation and agrarian crisis; monetary and banking crisis, and, finally, administrative economy under the German zone).    Key words: history of economic thought, Great Depression, Balkans, Bulgaria JEL codes: B 10, B 20, B30, N13, N14, G01                                                   * University of National and World Economy, Sofia (department of Finance); University of Orleans; and ICER; nenovsky@gmail.com.    
Introduction  The history and analysis of the theoretical discussions and policy interpretations of Bulgarian economists at the time of the Great Depression has rarely been object of study. There were some researches during the socialist period in the frame of the so-called Marxist political economy, which although useful, are in most cases marked by certain ideological clichés (see Natan and Berov, 1958, chapter XI; Grigorov, 1960; Natan, 1964; Natan and al, 1973). In the post-communist period Rumen Avramov (2007) analysed different aspects of Bulgarian economic thinking when analysing the Bulgarian economy in a long-run historical perspective and Martin Ivanov (2001, 2005) when discussing the interwar economic history and foreign debt issues. The only especially dedicated publication on Bulgarian economic discussion of the Great Depression is that of Stefan Kolev (2009) who addresses the main points of discussions and shows the main protagonists in them. His article gives a number of starting points for new research and new interpretations.  My ambition is to elaborate two main issues. The first one deals with the question of how the Bulgarian academic community interprets the Great Depression, in what theoretical models Bulgarian economists think and what practical solutions they offer. And most importantly, what makes them gradually realize the structural characteristics of the crisis, and what is the socio-economic model in which they see the future state of the economy. This is achieved by elaborating typical elements leading to their theoretical and practical models and emphasizing the specific Bulgarian interpretation of Depression and the contribution of the Bulgarian economists. Second task is to identify the sources of intellectual and theoretical concepts that form the theoretical baggage of Bulgarian economists, the schools and ideas that influenced them.   IBulgarian economic thought on the eve of the Depression  On the eve of Depression the Bulgarian economists are far from numerous and mainly concentrated in Sofia, Varna and Svishtov, where higher schools of learning are located and also in some state institutions such as the Bulgarian National Bank, the Ministry of Finance, the National Statistics, and some private banks. Especially active were the Bulgarian Economics Society (established in 1895 and closed in 1949), which became the centre of numerous discussions and issued its own monthly Journal of the Bulgarian Economic Society (normally 10 booklets per year), which was released for the first time in 1896 (Tsankov, 1926)1 In 1935 with the help of the Rockfeller Foundation a Statistical Institute for Economic Research at the Sofia University was established, which became a major centre for quantity and conju2nctural analyses of Bulgarian economy as well as for many talented young Bulgarian economists.                                                    1 In the period 1929-1938 a second economic society was established (Society of Academic Economists), which set forth to resolve, in its proclamation documents at least, more theoretical tasks. In my view, however, neither the authors (most of whom went down without leaving a trace), nor the articles in the journal are up to the need level of theory and in some respects are even below those of Bulgarian Economic Society. 2 For details about the organization of the Bulgarian economic thought see Natan et al. (1973, 39-60).  2