What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

Updated 04 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

  • Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991

Author: Richard Pomfret

The 9/11 attacks, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the oil boom of recent years have greatly increased the strategic importance of resource-rich Central Asia, making an understanding of its economic — and therefore political — prospects more important than ever. 

In The Central Asian Economies Since Independence, Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book assesses the economic prospects of each country, and the likelihood that economic conditions will spur major political changes. With independent chapters on each country, and chapters analyzing their comparative economic performance, the book highlights similarities and differences as well as  divergent paths in the transition from Soviet central planning to more market-based economies.

The book ends in 2005 with the bloodless Kyrgyz revolution and the violence in Uzbekistan, which signaled the end of the region’s political continuity. Throughout the book, Pomfret emphasizes the economic forces that foster political instability — from Kazakhstan’s resource boom and Turkmenistan’s lack of reform to Tajikistan’s abject poverty.


What We Are Reading Today: When Insurers Go Bust

Updated 11 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: When Insurers Go Bust

Authors: Guillaume Plantin & Jean-Charles Rochet

In the 1990s, large insurance companies failed in virtually every major market, prompting a fierce and ongoing debate about how to better protect policyholders. Drawing lessons from the failures of four insurance companies, When Insurers Go Bust dramatically advances this debate by arguing that the current approach to insurance regulation should be replaced with mechanisms that replicate the governance of non-financial firms.
Rather than immediately addressing the minutiae of supervision, Guillaume Plantin and Jean-Charles Rochet first identify a fundamental economic rationale for supervising the solvency of insurance companies: Policyholders are the “bankers” of insurance companies. But because policyholders are too dispersed to effectively monitor insurers, it might be efficient to delegate monitoring to an institution — a prudential authority. Applying recent developments in corporate finance theory and the economic theory of organizations, the authors describe in practical terms how such authorities could be created and given the incentives to behave exactly like bankers behave toward borrowers, as “tough” claimholders.
Guillaume Plantin is assistant professor of finance at London Business School. He is the coauthor of Théorie du Risque et Réassurance. Jean-Charles Rochet is professor of mathematics and Economics at the University of Toulouse and a visiting professor of finance at the London School of Economics and Political Science.