The Soviets: Sinking Deeper into a Quagmire

For the new boss, a major challenge is to end the economy's stagnation

While the Soviet standard of living nearly doubled during Leonid Brezhnev's rule, he left behind an economy slipping into deep trouble. Factories are faltering. Farms cannot feed the people. Oil production is peaking and may soon fall. After decades of steady progress, growth has seriously slowed. Still harder times may lie ahead.

Says Columbia University Sovietologist Seweryn Bialer: "In the 1980s the Soviet Union may pass through the worst period since the death of Stalin. Growth rates will be the...

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