6

One kind of information used by Gosplan to create plans was a list of commodities and relationships between them, i.e. what things were required to produce other things.

I managed to find higher level summaries and analyses about the plans, e.g.

Even then, industrial supply and distribution plans compiled by Gosplan have been known to (...) deal with well over 30000 commodities

(from: Soviet Economic Structure and Performance, Paul R. Gregory and Robert C. Stuart)

but I had no luck with finding the information that was used in the creation of plans themselves.

Does anyone of you know where I could find them? I'm specifically interested in the relationships between commodities. The info doesn't need to be about the Soviet Union, it can be about any country of the Eastern Block. Language doesn't matter too, as long as it is not Chinese.

I asked a broader version of this question on the economics stack exchange.

  • The soviets would have considered that top secret. – Tyler Durden Apr 8 '16 at 13:04
  • 1
    This is an interesting question. On terminology: Gosplan was the name of the central planning agency (this word has no plural!). What it produced was called simply "plans". Yearly plans, 5-year plans, 7-year plans etc. – Alex Apr 8 '16 at 13:08
  • How did they do it was really a top secret. But the plans themselves were widely publicized. Some of them had little to do with reality. – Alex Apr 8 '16 at 13:11
  • 2
    @Alex How did they do it was really a top secret Well, from math point of view, it was a Linear programming problem. There are classical works by Nobel Prize Laureat Leonid Kantorovich. – Matt Apr 8 '16 at 14:50
  • 2
    On source: A History of Soviet Russia: Foundations of a Planned Economy 1926-1929, the series on economy (6 books) were jointly written by Carr and Davies. For something more current, you might wish to contact Mark Harrison - an economic historian specialising in Soviet affairs. – J Asia Mar 15 '18 at 7:10
4

There are 3 parts to the state economic planning:

  1. Technology: which ingredients go into which product in which ratios. E.g., given 1 tonne of Samotlor oil and such and such refinery design, this much gasoline/kerosene/asphalt is produced. This depends on the state of technology and quality of its implementation, and is not very specific to the USSR (chemistry works the same way under communists and in the free world).

  2. Capacity: the specific oil refinery plant located in city X can process this much oil per day, and has such and such incoming and outgoing pipelines and railways. If I understand correctly, this is the subject of the question.

  3. Optimization: methodology how to combine 1 and 2 to maximize production, new construction &c. This is "simple math".

production capacity is a major state military secret

Production capacity indicates economic choke points, and, as such, is the major input for strategic military planning. In fact, the Strategic bombing during World War II was not as successful as it could have been because of inconsistent and/or flawed target selection (see Inside the Third Reich by Speer) because very little was known about the inner workings of German economy.

Thus this information was always classified in the USSR. What was, in fact, published - СССР в цифрах ("USSR in digits") was, first, fake through and through, and, second, reported some information in absolutes (e.g., tonnes), some in percentages, and yet others in differences between other unknown quantities, so that making meaningful conclusions beyond "soviet economy is growing real fast" was impossible.

Nevertheless, the Western economist poured over those volumes of garbage which reduced people like Birman to tears of laughter.

  • Thanks for breaking my question down into these parts. The information I'm looking for is actually in the first part. Having info about ratios would be a nice bonus, but I would be happy with having "only" a qualitative part, as long as it is accurate, e.g. the refinery works as you described, and does not consume cotton or produce bricks. Essentially what I'm after is something that I could turn into a directed hypergraph model representing the material part of economy. I have little hope for such description of more modern economy, but it seems that Gosplan had such info. – robaki Mar 15 '18 at 21:32
  • Chemistry is the same world over - technology changes with time but not with regime. I.e., if you know what kind of plant is where, you can figure out its parameters. However, the information about the plant is classified. – sds Mar 16 '18 at 2:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.