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Issue № 87. August 2021

Growing Crisis in the USSR Economy: An Assessment by the Country’s Leadership (Autumn 1989)

Alexander V. Sidorov

DSc (Historical Sciences), Professor, School of Public Administration, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation.
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3411-9515

In the modern world, the problem of identifying signals of an impending economic crisis is of particular importance, since the detection of crisis tendencies gives an additional time lag and increases the possibility of preventing crisis development. Awareness of the emerging threats to economic development is based on the analysis and correct interpretation of information about the state of affairs in the economic sphere, which is impossible without taking into account the experience accumulated by previous eras. The article is devoted to the study of economic information possessed by the leadership of the Soviet Union on the eve of the deep economic crisis at the turn of the 1980-1990s and its interpretation, which was the basis of economic policy. Autumn 1989 is considered as a time point, when the USSR Supreme Soviet discussed the country’s social and economic development plan and its 1990 budget. 1989 is the last year in the history of the USSR when there was little economic growth, but clear signals of an impending crisis emerged. Consideration of economic information and its interpretation are based on the data of verbatim records of the Second Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet with the use of historical-genetic, historical-systemic, historical-dynamic and other principles. The article examines how the government of the country determined the main factors affecting the situation in the economy, assessed the impact of previous development, “crisis-generating” factors of the restructuring policy, crisis phenomena in the country’s financial system and the growing shortage of goods, as well as some others. The article concludes that the leadership of the USSR, having sufficiently complete information about the negative changes in the economy, wasn’t able to interpret it correctly. Errors of interpretation (distortion of the real state of affairs) were caused by the consideration of economic reality by the leaders of the USSR through the prism of the policy of perestroika, with the implementation of which their political future was associated.


Economy of the USSR, Supreme Soviet of the USSR, perestroika, economic crisis, 1989, M.S. Gorbachev, economic information, interpretation of information.

DOI: 10.24412/2070-1381-2021-87-48-60

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