The government were slow to act and, although they eventually enforced a ban on grain exports, 350,000 died of starvation or disease. Economically and industrially Russia was also falling far behind many other Western countries at the time, like Britain and Germany. When Count White became Minister of Finance in 1893, there was desperate need to decrease inflation, improve infrastructure and encourage foreign investment.
I agree with the hypothesis that White’s reforms were the most important because of the reforms he put in place to secure the development of capital goods, coal, iron, steel and oil, the building blocks of future economic growth Sergei White’s reforms were extremely important because he linked industrial growth with a stronger nation politically and economically, and therefore invited foreign experts from more industrialized countries like Britain, France and Germany to Russia to advise him on modernization.
In Russia, industrial growth increased on average by 8% a year between 1890 and 1899, which was the highest growth rate of any of the world’s major economies. This highlights the impact of White’s new reforms showing that they work to an incredible level and make a huge step to reaching economic stability and a big step in modernization and industrialization and therefore have been the most effective and important form of reform in the 18th Century. Another point that supports the fact that Sergei White’s Reforms were extremely important was that he decided to make the ruble more sought after by putting it on the Gold Standard in 1897.
This meant that it was directly exchangeable for gold, which had a higher value. This was done because Russia had a high rate of inflation, so foreign capital was more valuable. This was extremely successful, as foreign investment dramatically increased and value of the ruble increased. The increase in national income between 1894 and 1913 in European Russia was 50%. This highlights the fact that White could pour money into improving industry, a step towards his goal of catching up with other industrialized countries because of the increased amount of investment in an attempt to stimulate Russian’s economy.
However, White’s policies also caused economic, political and social problems for Russia causing them to have limitations which decreased their level of importance. There were dreadful working conditions. Working hours were long, for example Convocation writes in his memoirs ‘A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia’ that days in his factory in Moscow lasted eleven and a half hours with only one break for lunch which lasted an hour and a half. Wages were low and did not rise with inflation, and Jobs were insecure.
White’s policy of industrialist may have been positive for the Russian economy as a whole, but the people who really benefited were the upper and middle classes. For the people working in the factories, life was reforms taking place between 1881 and 1905 in Russia such as his predecessor, Wisecracking (1887-1892), had imposed tariffs to raise revenue and discourage importing from other countries and increasing direct taxes, pushing for an export drive and increasing railway lines achieving a balanced budget, accumulating gold serves and strengthening the ruble.
White continued with many of Waggishness’s policies like indirect taxes, and his greatest success – making the ruble directly exchangeable for gold – had actually already been suggested by the two previous Ministers for Finance who had been preparing the Russian economy for it. His high tariffs and policies that focused mostly on heavy industry were unpopular with the public who were 80% serfs. Most of his policies did not meet the needs of the nation and only directly helped investors and industrialists.
Although the evidence points towards both successes and failures, I think that White was to a great extent a success. He addressed the problems of a weak currency and the lack of foreign investment, which were the main economic problems at the time. Some of his policies were Just continuations of other economists’ ideas, but he actually implemented them for Russia. His main focus was on heavy industry and his polices often did not benefit the majority of the population but under an autocracy and while a lot of money was being poured into military activity I believe that he did well to stabilize the economy.
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