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Nationalisation of Mines 1

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This version: 29 September 2002

Quiggin, J. (2002), ‘Privatisation and nationalisation in the 21st century’, Growth 50, 66–73.

Privatisation and nationalisation in the 21st century John Quiggin Australian Research Council Senior Fellow School of Economics Faculty of Economics and Commerce Australian National University

EMAIL John.Quiggin@anu.edu.au FAX + 61 2 61255124 Phone + 61 2 61254853 (bh) + 61 2 62578992(ah) http://ecocomm.anu.edu.au/quiggin

I thank Nancy Wallace for helpful comments and criticism. This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Senior Fellowship and Australian Research Council Large Grant A00000873

Privatisation and Nationalisation in the 21st century
Introduction In economic terms, the dominant policy trend of the 20th century was that of nationalisation. In almost all countries, and on almost all measures, the range of economic activities undertaken by governments was substantially larger at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning, as was the ratio of public revenue and expenditure to national income. During the last twenty years, however, there were sustained, and to some extent successful, attempts to roll back the growth of government. Centrally planned economies collapsed and began a transition towards a market-oriented model. In the developed OECD countries, privatisation of publicly-owned enterprises took place on a large scale, beginning with the sale by public float of British Telecom, undertaken by the Thatcher government in the United Kingdom in 1985. These developments popularised a ‘triumphalist’ analysis, in which it was claimed that ‘capitalism’ had triumphed over ‘socialism’, inaugurating the ‘end of history’ (Fukuyama). This claim was clearly correct insofar as ‘capitalism’ referred to the set of economic and political systems prevailing in OECD countries, ranging from the United States to Norway, and ‘socialism’ referred to the systems prevailing in the Soviet Union. However, as was...


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