Janos Kornai (1928-2021): An economist as an iconoclast

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WITH the passing away of Janos Kornai on October 21 at the age of 94, the world has lost yet another link to the intellectual world that struggled to shape the 20th century amid its great upheavals. While the city of Vienna produced grand theorists of world economy before the two World Wars, which included Alfred Hayek, the icon of neoliberal thought, it was Budapest, the capital of neighbouring Hungary, that produced one of the most insightful economists, Janos Kornai. This Hungarian provided the first systematic and structural understanding of the flaws in the centralised command economy as well as the fallacy of the assumed equilibrium of the capitalist economy.

Economics of Shortage’

Piercing the ideological ways of looking at the socialist economy by Western economists, Kornai, through his celebrated research that included his doctoral work Overcentralisation in Economic Administration (1959), and later Economics of Shortage (1980), provided…

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