As a reference book with a broad coverage of topics and of the literature on transition economies and transitions economics, this new Palgrave MacMillan dictionary reaches its objectives and will prove its usefulness. Written and published after the major financial crisis which affected the industrial world since 2008, the book can put the transition from plan to market started in 1989 in a broader perspective. The performance of the transition economies and their graduation to "emerging markets" can now be evaluated with a long term view both on theories and on actual policies.
Across the variety of contributors and of topics, the editorial line is to produce readable contributions and to raise the important issues without developing new theoretical or econometric models. The diversity of the experiences of the transition countries and yet the limited amount of data or of degrees of freedom for econometric estimates may explain the preference for literature reviews, case studies or comparative case studies. This approach has been very common in the literature on transition economies. For a deeper introduction into models defining a field like "Transition economics" or for an economic analysis of data on market performances or policy transmissions, the researcher will use the references of each chapter of this dictionary or more specific books (2) and journals (3) pursuing this aim.
The chapters cover transition economies, with the largest attention given to economies from Central and Eastern Europe. Where appropriate, China, Russia and the former Soviet republics are also discussed. Emerging markets like India, Brazil or South Africa, which have also performed major reforms since the 1990's are not covered. Indeed, despite the importance of the challenges they faced, they did not share the common characteristic of moving from plan to market. In the book, this characteristic is clearly present, but it is somewhat implicit. A reader interested in understanding the characteristics and the history of planned economies will have to turn to a more specific introduction like this of Gros and Steinherr.
Despite the specific circumstances of geography and history, the experience of transition raises broader economic issues. Like Latin American stabilization programs which have inspired some macroeconomic and trade reforms in transition economies, experiences of transition economies raise useful questions about monetary policy, governance and institution building both for developing and for industrial economies. Indeed...