Eastern Europe: The Shock of Reform

Creating a market economy was supposed to hurt -- for a while. But why are places like Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary still in such pain?

"I think we'll be perched on the edge of catastrophe for a long time to come. This makes me an optimist."

-- Krzysztof Bien, economics editor of the Warsaw daily Rzeczpospolita

What, then, would a Polish pessimist predict? About what is expected by gloomy counterparts in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the other Soviet satellites that broke free of communism in 1989. Standards of living will drop so low and for so long that the populace may rebel, not just against capitalism and free- market economics but against democracy as well. Possible result: the accession to power of "the man on the horse"...

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