Nation of Beancounters

“Economists have greatly exaggerated the benefits of incentives by themselves, without changes in people.

Posted in Highly Recommended, On The Contrary by Navin Kumar on February 7, 2012

Economic theory of socialism has put way too much weight on incentives, and way too little on human capital. Winners in the communist system turned out not to be so good in a market economy. Transition to markets is accomplished by new people, not by old people with better incentives. I realised this and wrote about it in the mid-1990s, but the lesson both in firms and in politics in profound: you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, even with incentives”

Andrei Schleifer, “Seven things I learned about transistion from communism”. I find it really hard to excerpt just part of the essay, but it would be immoral to copy-paste the whole thing. A must read.


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