Psst! Want to Buy A Factory?

Russia's program to issue shares in its economy gets off to a tepid start

IT WAS A SALESMAN'S WORST NIGHTMARE. TO launch its massive campaign to privatize state industries on Oct. 1, Boris Yeltsin's government began issuing vouchers worth 10,000 rubles (U.S.$33) to every man, woman and child in Russia to be used toward buying shares in newly privatized enterprises. It could hardly give them away. Despite the pitch, the offer was met with widespread confusion and apathy. One poll revealed that fully half of Moscow residents did not know what to do with the vouchers once they got them.

Hoping to create a middle class of property holders, the government is urging Russian citizens...

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