The Western Balkans: 15 Years of Economic Transition
For the Western Balkan countries, the transition from socialism to capitalism and democracy was less smooth than in other parts of Emerging Europe. But once the war ended and peace returned, these countries did more than rebuild: they began a transformation into market economies, liberalizing prices, privatizing many state- and socially-owned enterprises, and building the institutions needed to support a market economy. During my time at the U.S. Treasury in the 1990s, I was closely involved with the Western Balkans and saw first-hand how the seeds of this transformation were planted. The process that unfolded was not uniform across the region, as starting positions differed, and has not been completed. Moreover, each country’s political realities and social and cultural preferences all played a role in the approaches taken. Nevertheless, progress over the last two decades has been evident in every country, resulting in rising incomes and living standards. One objective of this book is to document this transformation, both the tangible achievements as well as the missed opportunities…..