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   Course Title    Comperative Economics
Lecturer    Atanas Atanasov
Institution    Varna University of Economics
Country    Bulgaria

I. Introduction


The course of Comparative Economics is the third basic introductory course of International Economic Relations. It is an additional contribution to the understanding of the global economy and mainly the specific features of the different economic systems and institutions throughout the world. The course is offered during the fifth semester within 30 hours of lectures and 30 hours of seminars.


Students are assumed to have basic knowledge in Micro- and Macroeconomic theory and International Economics, studied in the first 4 semesters of education for participating in the course.


II. Objectives of the course


The course aims at presenting the main features of different institutional models of market economies, stressing the endogenous and exogenous factors of their equilibrium and development. The first part of the course deals with distinguishing features of different economic systems, giving the grounds for comparison between them. The point of special attention in this part is the profound understanding of the economic system as an integral identity, created and maintained by the complex impact of economic, political, social, ethno-cultural and historical factors. The second part comprises detailed analysis of the main economic systems of market economies. The third part stresses upon the potential of accepting institutional models and methods of reforming national economy upon beneficial examples from different economic systems. The main task is to create abilities for critical assessment of existing economic models abroad and the relevance of their substantial features for the benefits of the contemporary Bulgarian economy. 


III. Course Details




Topic 1. Economics and Comparative Economics Subject of Comparative Economics as a separate discipline. The notion of an economic system. The main distinguishing features of different economic systems. Main institutions of economy. Property rights, market and institutional coordination. Classification of economic systems. The relation between Economics and Comparative economics. The role of Comparative Economics in the process of economic transformation.


Seminar topic: The paradigm of the economic system.


Topic 2. Economic Systems and Institutions. Classification of social institutions. The problems of cooperation and conflicts between institutions. The role of the state in the models of compulsory and market coordination-based systems. The problems of the evolution and stability of economic institutions. The role of political power and political systems in designing economic systems.


Seminar topic: Political stability and economic institutions.


Topic 3. The economic systems of modern capitalism. The relationship between state and property rights in modern capitalism. The evolution of private property. The role of the state sector in modern economy. The extension of state coordination in modern economy. Economic analysis of the political system. The theory of bureaucracy. Fiscal redistribution of incomes. Coordination of group interests. The theory of institutionalism. The impact of global economy. Macroeconomic regulation and Keynsianism. The historical types of capitalism: market-regulated capitalism, state-regulated capitalism, neocorporative capitalism. The evolution of different types of state interference: the model of early, delayed and neocorporative industrialization.


Seminar topic: Signs of different economic systems in late Bulgarian history.


Topic 4. The model of market-orientated mixed economy. The evolution of property, organization and financing. Capital and corporative management. The process of dispersion of property rights and consequences from the separation of ownership and management. Factors in favour of strong ownership management. Connection between the judicial system and the structure of property rights. Impact of the financial system. State regulation in market-centered economies anti-monopolistic legislature, consumer protection, regulation of employment relations and the financial system.


Seminar topic: The separation of property rights and management of property in a transition economy.




Topic 5. State-regulated market economies.  Fundamental differences in existing market systems. Theory of regulation and state interference. Economic institutions and regulation types before WW II. in most developed capitalist economies. The French model of state-regulated market economy - the role of employment regulation and social institutions, relationship between government and corporate sector, mediatory role of banks, the system of state investment and state purchases. The Japanese model of state-regulated market economy - main features of Japanese economic system, non-economic factors, influencing the system, structure of property and coordination, peculiarities of the corporate sphere and management. The Japanese system of interest-coordination. The role of external influences. The relevance of the Japanese model and its latest crisis.


Seminar topic: Historical and ethno-cultural impacts on economic systems.


Topic 6. The welfare state. The legitimacy of the welfare state. The policy of income redistribution and moderation of income diversity. The interference of the state and its limits. The controversies of the welfare state in static and dynamic approaches. The adjustment mechanism of the corporate sector and individuals to redistribution policies. The replacement of market risk with political risk. The development of the welfare state - signs of disequilibria and crisis. The dilemma of stable employment and information-based growth. The problems and consequences of the policy of equal opportunities.


Seminar topic: The Scandinavian economic model.


Topic 7. Post-communist systems. The Soviet model of communist economy. Availability of growth factors and bureaucratic distribution. Full replacement of market coordination with state planning. Insolvency of the communist economic model at the background of technical and scientific development after WW II. Institutional structure communist economies in Eastern Europe. Fundamentals on the eve of collapse.


Seminar topic: Why should we know well the disappeared communist economy?


Topic 8. The evolution of the communist model. The shift from strict state planning towards limited market coordination. The evolution in property rights. The emergence of agents with market behavior. The limits before the economic reforms within the same political system. The negligence of financial sector and fiscal policy. Negative effects of the full redistribution of incomes.


Seminar topic: The controversies between individual and common interests under full state regulation.


Topic 9. Breakdown of the communist model. Internal and external factors on the eve of the 90s. Evolution and revolution in Eastern Europe - causes and results. First achievements and faults of reformist attempts. The controversy between stability and reform. Inconsistency of the process of liberalization in Eastern European countries. The first lessons from reformist policies - what some countries learned and what others did not.


Seminar topic: Price, trade policy and currency liberalization in 1991 in Bulgaria - consequences for the following events.


Topic 10. Second stage of post-communist reforms 1995-2000. Failure of neoliberalism in Eastern Europe. The renaissance of state regulation. The mechanism of market establishment and market institutions. Accomplishment of privatization - national approach, methods, results. Reintegration in world economy. Restructuring of foreign trade, general shift in partner markets, commodities. Reforms in fiscal policy, protectionist measures, financial system. Comparison in latest results of economic transition in the post-communist countries.


Seminar topic: developing a system of economic and non-economic indicators for comparison of transition results.


Topic 11. The Latin American model of economic systems. Relative backwardness and underdevelopment till WW II. The role of the state and foreign investment in economic restructuring. The expansion of foreign capital to Latin America - reasons and consequences. The inadequate system of micro- and macroeconomic factors in modernization. The reform of the economic system - the failure of constrained economic growth. Latin America in the 80's and during the financial crises in the 90's.


Seminar topic: The dilemma of foreign investment versus autonomous economic policy. 


Topic 12. The economic systems of East Asia. The Asian model of economic expansion. The problems of growth and efficiency. The relationship between state regulation and limited market coordination. Methods of achieving macroeconomic stability in East Asia. The peculiar financial policies - special methods of investment, lending and fund raising. Development of the agricultural sector as a prerequisite for industrial growth. The utilization of comparative advantage - industrial and trade policies, regulation of foreign investment, special paths of export expansion. Protectionist and neoprotectionist practices in East Asia. The limits of the bubble economy. The east Asian financial crises and the way out.


Seminar topic: What we can and what we cannot transfer from the Asian model to Eastern Europe?


Topic 13. Latest developments in modern capitalism. The challenges of information-based growth. Network-type corporate structures in modern economy types of networks, internal factors for development. Virtual companies and global offices. Regional and global networks. Expansion of available factors of production. The network integration from the point of view of transactional costs and institutionalism. New types of cooperation in network structures.


Seminar topic: Business and global information availability - risks and benefits.


Topic 14. The impact of globalization on the development of economic systems. The notion of globalization - reasons and controversies. The problems of globalization and new regionalism. The role of transnationals in globalization - direct foreign investment, the need for more liberal regulation and the conflicts between hosting countries and transnationals. Main consequences from globalization - expansion of world trade, corporate mergers, corporate agreements and strategic unions, development of global financial markets. Regional economic cooperation.


Seminar topic: State regulation and the presence of multinationals in Eastern Europe.


Topic 15. Financial globalization and national adaptation. The problems of international taxation in the global economy. The search for an adequate exchange rate system. The problems of capital flows and the flexible exchange rate regimes. The possibilities and the limits of global financial coordination. Reformist proposals for restructuring of the global financial system.


Seminar topic: Latest financial crises and their impact on national financial systems in Eastern Europe.




1.      H. Steven Gardner, Comparative Economic Systems, Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997.

2.      Michael Porter, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, MACMILLAN Press GB, 1998

3.      Balcerowicz, L. Capitalism, Socialism, Transformation. CEU Publ. Budapest

4.      Esping - Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Polity Press UK, 1990

5.      Ronald Dore, Stock Market Capitalism: Welfare Capitalism, Oxford University Press, 2000.

6.      Miles Kahler, Capital Flows and Financial Crises, USA, 1998

7.      Abdelal, R., National Purpose in the World Economy: Post-Soviet states in Comparative perspective, Cornell University Press, 2001.

8.      Zhak Aroyo - Ikonomika na prehoda (Transition Economics), Izd. Stopanstvo, Sofia, 1999.




IV. Assessment


Students shall pass a comprehensive intermediary exam at the end of the first semester and a final exam at the end of the course. A precondition for taking the exams is submission of a semester paper on a voluntary topic, included in the syllabus. The choice of the subject, its content and the list of resources used will be the criteria for assessment. Each seminar will start with an essay-test to check the fundamental mastering of matters discussed subsequently. Students presenting a semester paper, that could be developed into a graduation thesis and passing all the tests answering correctly at least 4 of all 5 questions will be exempted from taking the exams, and will receive an excellent mark.

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