Online ISSN 2286-0266
Print ISSN 1223-0685
Copyright © 2017
Œconomica by SOREC
Mihaela IACOB
Academia de Studii Economice din Bucureşti
János Kornai consecrated himself as a “disequilibrium economist” (1971) at the dawn of an époque when “general equilibrium” had been the fictional, if not fantasist, mainframe relative to which all economic phenomena were scrutinized and to which all the benchmarks of economic concepts were traced back. Kornai’s “shortage economy” (1980), the state of nature of a socialist system, and its capitalist counterpart, the “surplus economy”, are disequilibrium concepts derived from the system-specific attributes of these two fundamental institutional societal arrangements. After a comprehensive and somehow “final” conceptualization of socialism in his 1992 work, The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism, Kornai stopped short of achieving a symmetrical treatise concerning capitalism, although an implicit analysis was present in all the comparative and transitional surveys dedicated to economic systems, dominating his theoretical works after 1990. Even if a full-fledged analysis of capitalism is absent from his remarkable bibliography, significant pieces from a capitalist economics puzzle are to be found in his 2013 book, Dynamism, Rivalry, and the Surplus Economy. Two Essays on the Nature of Capitalism, which benefited from an enriched translation in Romanian by incorporating two more essays (“Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Reflections on the Changes following the Collapse of Communism” and “Marx through the Eyes of an East European Intellectual”). Issued at Curtea Veche Publishing House, with the support of the National Bank of Romania, Dinamism, rivalitate şi economia de surplus offers to the Romanian reader the testimony of an economist who always, more than just witnessing from a safe distance, criticized equally socialism and capitalism, loud and clear, from inside.

ŒCONOMICA no. 2/2017
Unbalanceable Capitalism: A Note on János Kornai’s Theorizing of Economic Systems