By Martin Cave
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Extra resources for Alternative Approaches to Economic Planning
The discussion above interprets the material-balance system within the input-output framework. It does not imply that material balances should necessarily be replaced by input-output techniques. The growing role of inputoutput models in planning is discussed below in Chapter 10. Here, without describing properties, such as the assumption of a single constant returns to scale technique for each sector, which are common to both methods as represented here, we merely make a few preliminary observations which suggest that such a substitution has certain associated problems: (1) The number of balances is often very large; input-output models would make computational demands which could not at present be met.
It is also noticeable that the build-up of cash balances in the Soviet Union has been substantial in recent years, deposits in savings banks increasing threefold from 1970 to 1978. However, Pryor (1977) finds that waiting-time in shops in centrally planned economies is fully explained by the low level of employment in retailing in those countries, and the build-up of household savings in the Soviet Union may be linked, for example, to the absence of consumer credit facilities and is not by itself evidence of disequilibrium (for an account of the issues at stake in this debate see Kornai, 1979).
On the debit side it leads to serious microeconomic inefficiencies and it becomes progressively harder to operate as the number of sectors in the economy grows, as the relationships between them become more complex, and as the structure of final demand becomes more varied. Levine ( 1966) has suggested that many of the phenomena observed in traditional centrally planned economies are not inherent in the system itself but arise because the planners have attempted to operate it at such a high level of intensity, continuously raising the targets for enterprises by instituting a system of taut planning.
Alternative Approaches to Economic Planning by Martin Cave