Padma Desai

Padma Desai is Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Comparative Economic Systems and Director of the Center for Transition Economies at Columbia University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, was President of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies in 2001, and was U.S. Treasury’s Advisor to the Russian Finance Ministry in the summer of 1995. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University where she began her teaching career. Professor Desai has published extensively in professional journals on issues of economic planning in the Soviet Union before she switched her research agenda to economic reforms in Russia and the emerging market economies. Among her publications are Marxism, Central Planning and the Soviet Economy (Editor) (The MIT Press, 1983); The Soviet Economy: Problems and Prospects (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1987); Perestroika in Perspective: The Design and Dilemmas of Soviet Reform (Princeton University Press, 1989); Going Global: Transition from Plan to Market in the World Economy (Editor) (The MIT Press, 1997); and (jointly with Todd Idson) Work Without Wages: Russia’s Nonpayment Crisis (The MIT Press, 2000). Her Financial Crisis, Contagion, and Containment: From Asia to Argentina (Princeton University Press, 2003) was described by Paul Krugman as the “best book yet on financial crises”. Her latest book (2006), Conversations on Russia, a collection of interviews with distinguished Russian and Western policymakers and analysts on Russian reforms from Yeltsin to Putin, is published by Oxford University Press. Professor Desai has combined her scholarly activity with television appearances and frequent writings in the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. She is married to Jagdish Bhagwati, University Professor at Columbia University.

Papers Published in World Economics:

Russia at the Crossroads
Author: An interview with introduction by Brian Snowdon

To set the interview in context, Brian Snowdon first traces out some important landmarks in twentieth-century Russian/Soviet Union history. In the conversation that follows, Professor Desai gives her views on a number of key issues relating to the decline of the Soviet system and problems of Russia’s transition to a market economy. Recently, Freedom House has suggested that Russia is at a ‘crossroads’ with respect to its fledgling liberal democracy and market economy. Therefore, also discussed are the prospects for survival of democracy and markets in the new Russian ‘liberal’ order. In the first part of the interview, Professor Desai also comments on the influence of socialist ideas on India’s growth and development strategy.

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