Poland’s contested model of economic transformation
Poland’s model of economic transformation has been a subject of controversy since the launch of the first free market reforms in 1988 and 1989. Especially harsh criticism was levied on the author of most of the reforms, Leszek Balcerowicz, who was burned in effigy in demonstrations across Poland. Despite the country’s tremendous economic success, voices critical of the reforms reached a crescendo in 2014, the year of the III Republic’s 25th Anniversary. In particular, they pointed to the emergence of social inequalities and a lack of welfare policies. To what extent is the economic restructuring launched in 1989 linked to the political shift we have witnessed in Poland since 2015? Is it fair for critics to dismiss the myriad improvements Poland experienced economically despite the evident shortcomings?
Marek Belka, Prime Minister of Poland (2004-2005) and President of the National Bank of Poland (2010-2016) graduated from the Socio-Economic Department of the University of Łódź in 1972 and has been associated with the Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Sciences since 1986.
He was a research fellow at Columbia and Chicago Universities (1978-79, 1985-86), as well as at the London School of Economics (1990). He received the title of Professor of Economics in 1994.
He held office in the United Nations as Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva (2006-2008). In November 2008, he assumed office as the Director of the European Department at the International Monetary Fund. Professor Belka has published over 100 scientific papers devoted primarily to the theory of money and anti-inflation policy in developing countries. He specializes in applied economics and contemporary economic thought.
Jerzy Osiatyński is a member of the Monetary Policy Council in Poland. He graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics (Main School of Planning and Statistics) in 1964, and received the title of Professor of Economic Sciences in 1989. He has held various positions including: Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Economic Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2007-2013); Member of the Committee on Economic Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2007-2011); Member of NBP Economic Research Committee (since 2009); Member of the National Development Council of the President of the Republic of Poland (2010); social advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland (2010-2013). He has authored academic textbooks and scientific dissertations in the field of economic theory, public finance, history of economic thought of the 20th century, as well as economic transformation from centrally planned to market economy.
Illustration by Marta Zawierucha