Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Economic Buzzwords From the Tsentristy

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If output falls in an outdated Russian factory whose product is of no use to society, does anyone notice?

The answer to the first question is debatable, but the answer to the second has to be a resounding "Yes! The spad proizvodstva (fall in output) of Russian industry has become a household term, thanks to efforts of the burly industrial elite who advocate a slower transition to a market economy.

In another era, these people were called the nomenklatura. In today's political lingo, they are called tsentristy (centrists), because, unlike the communist opposition, they do not outright reject reforms. and so the spad proizvodstva has become a weapon they use against the proponents of the radical reforms of former Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, Gaidarnomika (Gaidamomics) and shokovaya terapiya (shock therapy).

How do you know a tsentrist? Easy. The tsentristy have a vocabulary of buzzwords that give them away immediately:

-- Nado ostanovit spad proizvodstva, a potom mozhno dumat o finansovoi stabilizatsii (We have to stop the fall in output, and then we can think about financial stability). A nice way of saying "keep those subsidies coming".

-- U nas ogromny potentsial, kotory nado sokhranit (We have great potential that has to be conserved). An argument for continued state support of defense industries that make great technological advances but use them almost exclusively for products like solar batteries for space shuttles.

-- Rynok ne samotsel (The market is not a goal in and of itself). This means, "We should not make unnecessary sacrifices in living standards to create a market economy". A favorite phrase of the industrialist leader Arkady Volsky.

-- Pravitelstvu nuzhny praktiki (The government needs practical people). The centrist's main criticism of the Gaidar cabinet is that they lacked practical experience in industry. Now that Viktor Chernomyrdin, a veteran of the gas industry, is prime minister, these criticisms have subsided. But they will resume if Chernomyrdin does not stop listening to the teoretiki (theorists) from Gaidar's team.

-- My za vzveshanny podkhod k rynku (We are for a balanced approach to the market). The centrists want a pain-free transition to a "socially oriented market" that will conserve the best of socialism and capitalism. This was the watchword of the failed economic reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika.

-- Ne byvayet chudes. Nam nuzhno vremya, or, "Miracles don't happen. We need time".