Indebtednessfor payment of labor remuneration (as of the end of the month), % of GDP of themonth
Debtor’sindebtedness as for the end of the month, % of GDP of the month
Creditor’s indebtedness, % of GDP of the month
Indebtednessfor payment of labor remuneration (as of the end of the month),deflated
Debtor’sindebtedness as of the end of the month, deflated
Creditor’s indebtedness as of the end of the month, deflated
4) The growing process of the economy“barterization”, the fast propagation of the multistep schemes of the cash-lessmutual settlements of debts between suppliers and their customers is also ahypothesis explaining the causes of the tax crisis. Last year, the RussianMinistry of finance vigorously engaged in this process, using the treasurybonds, tax exemptions, commodities credit, etc. As a result, lots ofenterprises act at minimal money, but the lack of the assets at the settlementaccounts leads to the growth of the arrears to the Budget. The distortions ofthe prices used at settlements between the tax payers, Budget and recipients ofthe budgetary money lead to reduction of the taxation basis. However, theexisting statistics does not allow to determine the range of these operationsand their significance in the economy.
Hence, the taxation crisis in the economy,aggravated at the end of 1995 - beginning of 1996, turned out a complexphenomenon as for its consequences. Had everything been limited only by theinfluence of the elections, the taxes collection would, in the secondhalf-year, have, more or less automatically, returned to, at least, the initiallevel. Nevertheless, the situation turned out quite different. The tax problem,having softened in the middle of the year, aggravated again in the autumn, aswe will demonstrate below. The explanation limited to the political incertituderemaining due to B. Yeltsin’s illness seems insufficient. Moreover, the arguments on the lowefficiency of the fiscal system, really requiring a deep and integral reform,are insufficient (though also true), either.
The massive evasion from the taxes payment,grown sharply in 1996, meant, at the same time, the beginning of the new stageof the taxation crisis. In 1995-1996, the scale of the so-called “negativeselection” among the tax payers grew significantly. Before, the taxationbreaches had been only methods for enterprises to reduce their expenses without influencing the generalcompetition situation in the market. After this, the grown volumes of thetaxation breaches and the numerous individual tax privileges brought to thesituation when the observance of the fiscal laws puts the conscientiousbusiness people in the certainly disadvantageous conditions breaking thepossibilities of efficient business activities. Before, a tax evasion or a taxprivilege gave to enterprises the incomes above the medium level (this may beinterpreted as the bonus for the risk of penalties). With the new practice, theobservance of the fiscal laws does not ensure this medium level anymore. Thisis due to that the prices level is formed accounting for the dominating levelof the tax evasion. The result is the negative selection: the conscientious taxpayers are either pushed away from the market or (which is more frequent)assume the new rules of the game consisting in running for privileges,deferments and in simple tax evasion.
1.4. Government in Situation of PoliticalIncertitude
Political factors of formation of electoralpolicy
The pre-elections behavior of the Governmentwas determined by a series of factors of which some are universal for all themarket democracies, while other are typical for the politically weak andinclined to populism regimes (these may be weak democracies as well as weakdictatorship), while the third factors showed themselves obviously in thespecific situation of the elections in the post-communist Russia, basicallyimportant from the economic policy viewpoint.
In the most general form, the actions of theGovernment should have been aimed to the conservation of the Presidency forB. Yeltsin, as the basis for continuation of formation of the today’s Cabinet. Even more, thismotivation should have been predominant for Viktor Chernomyrdin who had refusedfrom participation in the electoral struggle in exchange for the understandablepolitical guarantees. This is the motivation of the Prime Minister which is themost significant and has to be considered the expression of the aggregateposition of the Government14.
The tools in the hands of the Governmentwere limited enough and were reduced, almost completely, to the monetary andbugdetary policies measures, because they could play a role of anysignificance only in the short pre-elections period. The determination of theroute consisted in the search for the optimal set of measures capable to yieldthe positive results perceptible for the voters without destabilizing thepolitical situation so that to let it get out of control of the executive powerand lead to an acute political crisis in the second half of the year. Thelatter would have inevitably brought the replacement of the Governmentmanagement notwithstanding any pre-elections agreements.
The typical reaction of the Government onthe acuteness of the political situation in general and of the electoralsituation in particular is to soften the monetary policy. This was even moretrue for the 1996 Presidential elections campaign. The main problem here, themost urgent from the electoral viewpoint and shown as this by B. Yeltsin wasthe delays with the labor remuneration payment associated with both theindebtedness of the budgets of all levels (about 20% of all the debt) and thedebts of enterprises to their workers and employees. If compared with the endof 1995, in the first half of 1996, the indebtedness for the labor remunerationin real calculation grew by more than 85% (see Table 1.8).
Nevertheless, the standard policy ofanimation of the business activities (unemployment reduction) by use of theinflation obtained another form. In Russia, due to the high hiddenunemployment, the effect of the monetary policy on the labor market situationis weak enough. The inflation “shocks” have the purpose not to stimulate theemployment, but to reduce the indebtedness for the labor remuneration. Here,the replacement of the struggle against unemployment by the struggle againstnon-payments of the wages reduces abruptly the lag between the extension of themonetary mass and the expected positive shifts in the economy. This was clearlyseen at the beginning of the summer when the indebtedness in the budget spherereally sharply reduced. Nevertheless, this did in no way change the essence ofthe pre-elections inflationism.
Actually, the process was different. TheGovernment did not dare for an accelerated extension of the monetary mass tosolve its political (supporting B. Yeltsin’s victory) and economic (masteringthe budget crisis) problems. These were due to several reasons, mainlypolitical.
Firstly, the steady reduction of theinflation supported from spring 1995 was the practically only visibleachievement of the Government after the 1992 victory over the commoditiesdeficit. It was clear that a U‑turn for this trend would not be accepted by the electorate andpolitically compensated by the payment of the debts for wages andpensions15.
Secondly, under the strict IMF’s control over the implementationof the monetary program, such softening would have meant the failure of thepolicy not only in the short but also in the medium term, because it would haveinevitably worsened the post-elections situation of the Government. And as thechances for the B. Yeltsin’s victory were growing, the latter reasoning was becoming moresignificant.
Thirdly, the Government had no sufficientexperience of a fine enough regulation of the monetary mechanisms. The dynamicof the post-communist economy was not enough forecastable for risky experimentsin the monetary policy. The currency crisis of October 1994 revealed clearlythe problem of the temporal lags under the mobile institutional changes in themarkets (financial, first of all) and this had a great effect on the futureeconomic decisions of V. Chernomyrdin.
In such situation, it would have been quitenatural to construct the monetary policy in such a way that all the positiveconsequences of its softening reflect with guarantee (i.e., taking into accountthe possible incertitude as of the time lags issues) during the pre-electionsperiod with the positive ones showing themselves after the elections. TheGovernment followed the way it thought the safest. The growth of the moneyoffer was maximally approached to the elections and was compressed in time. InMay to June, the monthly rates of the monetary mass M2 growth grew somehow:they made, in average, 3.1% for the two months. The effect of the powers on themonetary situation was limited by the monetarization of the deficit of theextended budget, in whole, within the limits of the monetary program. The mainchannels of the money offer were the purchases of the State securities by theCentral Bank from the open market and the purchase of hard currency, preciousstones, and metals from the Ministry of finance16.
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