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    Soviet Union Economy - 1991

      Overview: The first six years of perestroyka (economic and political restructuring) have undermined the institutions and processes of the Soviet command economy without replacing them with efficiently functioning markets. The initial reforms have featured greater authority for enterprise managers over prices, wages, product mix, investment, sources of supply, and customers. But in the absence of effective market discipline, the result has been the disappearance of low-price goods, excessive wage increases, an even larger volume of unfinished construction projects, and, in general, continued economic stagnation. The Gorbachev regime has made at least four serious errors in economic
      policy in these six years: the unpopular and short-lived antialcohol campaign; the initial cutback in imports of consumer goods; the failure to act decisively at the beginning for the privatization of agriculture; and the buildup of a massive overhang of unspent rubles in the hands of households and enterprises. The regime has vacillated among a series of ambitious economic policy prescriptions put forth by leading economists and political leaders. The plans vary from proposals for (a) quick marketization of the economy; (b) gradual marketization; (c) a period of retrenchment to ensure a stable base for future marketization; and (d) a return to disciplined central planning and allocation. The economy, caught between two systems, is suffering from even greater mismatches between what is being produced and what would serve the best interests of enterprises and households. Meanwhile, the seething nationality problems have been dislocating regional patterns of economic specialization and pose a further major threat to growth prospects over the next few years. Official Soviet statistics report GNP fell by 2% in 1990, but the actual decline was substantially greater. Whatever the numerical decline, it does not capture the increasing disjointures in the economy evidenced by emptier shelves, longer lines, increased barter, and widespread strikes.

      GNP: approximately $2,660 billion, per capita $9,130; real growth rate - 2.4% to - 5.0% (1990 est. based on a reconstruction of official Soviet statistics); note--because of the continued unraveling of Soviet economic and statistical controls, the estimate is subject to even greater uncertainties than in earlier years; the dollar estimates most likely overstate Soviet GNP to some extent because of an incomplete allowance for the poor quality, narrow assortment, and low performance characteristics of Soviet goods and services; the - 2.4% growth figure is based on the application of CIA's usual estimating methods whereas the - 5.0% figure is corrected for measurement problems that worsened sharply in 1990

      Inflation rate (consumer prices): 14% (1990 est.)

      Unemployment rate: official Soviet statistics imply an unemployment rate of 1 to 2 percent in 1990; USSR's first official unemployment estimate, however, is acknowledged to be rough

      Budget: revenues 422 billion rubles; expenditures 510 billion rubles, including capital expenditures of 53 billion rubles (1990 est.)

      Exports: $109.3 billion (f.o.b., 1989); commodities--petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, metals, wood, agricultural products, and a wide variety of manufactured goods (primarily capital goods and arms); partners--Eastern Europe 46%, EC 16%, Cuba 6%, US, Afghanistan (1989)

      Imports: $114.7 billion (c.i.f., 1989); commodities--grain and other agricultural products, machinery and equipment, steel products (including large-diameter pipe), consumer manufactures; partners--Eastern Europe 50%, EC 13%, Cuba, China, US (1989)

      External debt: $55 billion (1990)

      Industrial production: growth rate - 2.4% (1990 est.)

      Electricity: 350,000,000 kW capacity; 1,740,000 million kWh produced, 5,920 kWh per capita (1990)

      Industries: diversified, highly developed capital goods and defense industries; comparatively less developed consumer goods industries

      Agriculture: accounts for roughly 20% of GNP and labor force; production based on large collective and state farms; inefficiently managed; wide range of temperate crops and livestock produced; world's third-largest grain producer after the US and China; shortages of grain, oilseeds, and meat; world's leading producer of sawnwood and roundwood; annual fish catch among the world's largest

      Illicit drugs: illegal producer of cannabis and opium poppy, mostly for domestic consumption; government has begun eradication program to control cultivation; used as a transshipment country for illicit drugs to Western Europe

      Economic aid: donor--extended to non-Communist less developed countries (1954-89), $49.6 billion; extended to other Communist countries (1954-89), $154 billion

      Currency: ruble (plural--rubles); 1 ruble (R) = 100 kopeks

      Exchange rates: rubles (R) per US$1--0.580 (1990), 0.629 (1989), 0.629 (1988), 0.633 (1987), 0.704 (1986), 0.838 (1985); note--as of 1 April 1991 the official exchange rate remained administratively set; it should not be used indiscriminately to convert domestic rubles to dollars; in November 1990 the USSR introduced a commercial exchange rate of 1.8 rubles to the dollar used for accounting purposes within the USSR and which was still in force on 1 April 1991; on 1 April 1991 the USSR introduced a new foreign-currency market for foreign companies and individuals; the rate will be fixed twice a week based on supply and demand; as of 4 April 1991 the rate was 27.6 rubles to the dollar; Soviet citizens traveling abroad are restricted to buying $200 a year at prevailing rates

      Fiscal year: calendar year

      NOTE: The information regarding Soviet Union on this page is re-published from the 1991 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Soviet Union Economy 1991 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Soviet Union Economy 1991 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 08-Feb-03
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