Leszek Balcerowicz

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Leszek Balcerowicz
2019 - Leszek Balcerowicz (13) MLU in Halle.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
In office
31 October 1997 – 8 June 2000
PresidentAleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime MinisterJerzy Buzek
In office
12 September 1989 – 23 December 1991
PresidentWojciech Jaruzelski
Lech Wałęsa
Prime MinisterTadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Minister of Finance
In office
31 October 1997 – 8 June 2000
Prime MinisterJerzy Buzek
Preceded byMarek Belka
Succeeded byJarosław Bauc
In office
12 September 1989 – 23 December 1991
Prime MinisterTadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Preceded byAndrzej Wróblewski
Succeeded byKarol Lutowski
President of The National Bank of Poland
In office
10 January 2001 – 10 January 2007
PresidentAleksander Kwaśniewski
Lech Kaczyński
Prime MinisterJerzy Buzek
Leszek Miller
Marek Belka
Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
Jarosław Kaczyński
Preceded byHanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Succeeded bySławomir Skrzypek
Chairman of the Freedom Union
In office
1 April 1995 – 18 December 2000
Preceded byTadeusz Mazowiecki
Succeeded byBronisław Geremek
Personal details
Born (1947-01-19) 19 January 1947 (age 75)
Lipno, Poland
Political partyFreedom Union, Partia Demokratyczna – demokraci.pl
Spouse(s)Ewa Balcerowicz
ChildrenMaciej (b. 1972) & Wojciech (b. 1980) & Anna (b. 1984)
Academic career
InfluencesHayek · Thatcher · Friedman
ContributionsBalcerowicz plan

Leszek Henryk Balcerowicz (pronounced [ˈlɛʂɛk balt͡sɛˈrɔvit͡ʂ] (listen); born 19 January 1947) is a Polish economist, statesman, and Professor at Warsaw School of Economics. He served as Chairman of the National Bank of Poland (2001–2007) and twice as Deputy Prime Minister of Poland (1989–1991, 1997–2001). In 1989, he became Minister of Finance in Tadeusz Mazowiecki's first non-communist government and led the free-market economic reforms, proponents of which say they have transformed Poland into one of Europe's fastest growing economies,[1][2][3][4] but which critics say were followed by a large increase in unemployment.[5] In 2007, he founded the Civil Development Forum (Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju) think-tank and became the chairman of its council.


In 1970 he graduated with distinction from the Foreign Trade faculty of the Central School of Planning and Statistics in Warsaw (currently: SGH Warsaw School of Economics).[6] Balcerowicz received his MBA from St. John's University in New York, in 1974 and doctorate from the Central School of Planning and Statistics in 1975.[6]

He was a member of the Polish communist party (Polish United Workers' Party) from 1969 until the declaration of martial law in Poland, in 1981.[7] In the late 1970s he participated in an economic-advisory team associated with the prime minister of People's Republic of Poland.[8] In 1978–1980 he worked at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Later he became an economics expert in the pro-democracy independent trade union Solidarity (NSZZ "Solidarność").

From 1989 to 1991 and also between 1997 and 2000 he was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland. Between 1995 and 2000 he was the chairman of Freedom Union, a centrist free-market political party.[9] On 22 December 2000 he became the Chairman of the National Bank of Poland.[10] He was also a columnist for Wprost, a Polish news magazine.[11]

On 11 November 2005, the President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, awarded L. Balcerowicz with the Order of the White Eagle for his "contribution to Poland's economic transformation".[12] In 2006 he was elected member of Galeria Chwały Polskiej Ekonomii, a hall of fame for "outstanding Polish economists".[13]

Balcerowicz is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an independent initiative hosted by the UNDP and the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and the law.[7] He is also a member of the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty, and is a board member of renowned Washington, D.C. think-tank the Peterson Institute. Fellow of Collegium Invisibile.[14]

Since 11 June 2008 Balcerowicz has been a member of the board of Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank on international economics.[15]

Since 2007, he has led the Civil Development Forum (Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju), a think-tank with a mission of "increasing active support of the society for a wide range of individual freedoms (especially economic freedom), and – what goes with it – for strengthening the rule of law in the country".[16]

In 2016 he was appointed as representative of the Ukrainian President in the Cabinet of ministers.[17]

Balcerowicz Plan[edit]

The Balcerowicz Plan was a series of reforms, which brought the end to hyperinflation, dismantled inefficient economic structures, and balanced the national budget.[18] The prices of most consumer goods were freed and caps for annual increases established in state-sector employees' wages. Poland's currency, the złoty, was made convertible within the country's borders. This resulted in a substantial increase in prices and had forced state-owned companies while making them economically competitive. This amounted to a two-year shock to the Polish economy.[19] Among other actions included in the plan was the negotiation of a significant reduction (approximately 50%) of the debts inherited from the Polish People's Republic.[20]

The severity of the reforms was initially controversial and made Balcerowicz an object of criticism by some politicians in Poland. On the other hand, many economists and experts such as Krzysztof Sobczak, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jacek Rostowski agree that without introducing such radical changes, Poland's economic success and steady economic growth would not have been possible.[21][22][23] Since 1991, Poland's annual growth rate was one of the highest of all post-Communist economies, while the country has experienced uninterrupted growth for over 28 years – the longest in the world, along Australia.[24][25] In 1998, he was awarded the Euromoney Finance Minister of the Year Award for his accomplishments as a finance minister.[26]


High unemployment remained a problem for some two decades after the implementation of the reforms, leaving certain poverty-stricken regions with structural unemployment.[5] Reducing unprofitability of the state-owned companies required significant layoffs. Even though over 2 million Poles emigrated[27] from Poland since its entry into the EU, until 2010s, the unemployment level remained at 13%.[28] Populist politician Andrzej Lepper, the leader of the populist Self-Defense (Samoobrona) party, created the slogan: "Balcerowicz must go" (Balcerowicz musi odejść), echoing the disgruntlement felt by some Poles with Balcerowicz's plan.[29] However, since 2013, the unemployment rate has not exceeded 10% and in 2019 has reached the record low of 3.8%.[30]

The BELLS[edit]

During the Eurozone crisis Balcerowicz has been an outspoken supporter for fiscal discipline and has been frequently dubbed the anti-Bernanke for his scorn of distortionary fiscal stimulus. In various articles he has developed a comparison between the fiscally-profligate PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) and the fiscally-disciplined BELLs (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).[31] Responsible fiscal policy brings about better growth outcomes, claims Leszek Balcerowicz.[31] He has many followers among East European economists, most prominently Simeon Djankov, Deputy prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Bulgaria between 2009 and 2013.[32]

Private life[edit]

Balcerowicz was a competitive athlete in his youth. In 1966, he became Poland's youth champion in cross country at the distance of 1500 meters.[33] Since 1977, he has been married to Ewa Balcerowicz, an economist. He has three children.

Honorary doctorates[edit]

Leszek Balcerowicz

Selected publications[edit]

  • Socialism, Capitalism, Transformation, Central European University Press, Budapest, 1995
  • Wolność i rozwój: ekonomia wolnego rynku, Znak, Kraków, 1995
  • Post-Communist Transition: Some Lessons, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, 2002
  • Towards a Limited State, World Bank, 2003
  • Institutional Systems and Economic Growth, in: Challenges of Globalization. Imbalances and Growth, edited by Anders Åslund and Marek Dąbrowski, Peterson Institutute for International Economics, p. 153–199, Washington, DC, 2008
  • Zagadki wzrostu gospodarczego (Puzzles of Economic Growth), Leszek Balcerowicz, Andrzej Rzońca, C.H. Beck Sp. z o.o., Warsaw, 2010
  • Odkrywając wolność. Przeciw zniewoleniu umysłów, Leszek Balcerowicz, ZYSK i S-KA Wydawnictwo, 2012
  • Wzrost gospodarczy w Unii Europejskiej (Economic Growth in the European Union), Lisbon Council e-book, Leszek Balcerowicz (main author), A. Rzońca, L. Kalina, A. Łaszek, 2013
  • Trzeba się bić. Opowieść biograficzna, Leszek Balcerowicz, Marta Stremecka, Wydawnictwo Czerwone i Czarne, Warsaw, 2014
  • Euro Imbalances and Adjustment: A Comperative Analysis, The Cato Journal, nr 3, 2014

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cienski, Jan (8 January 2019). "Poland's transformation is a story worth telling". POLITICO. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  2. ^ 17 December; 2018|current-affairs; Elections; Politics, Party; Europe, government across; featured; Comments, Marcin Piatkowski|3 (17 December 2018). "Poland has become Europe's growth champion, but can this success continue?". EUROPP. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Poland's Economic Model". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Poland: The journey to Developed Market status". FTSE Russell. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b Balcerowicz Plan: 20 Years On www.warsawvoice.pl
  6. ^ a b "Leszek Balcerowicz". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Leszek Balcerowicz". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  8. ^ "LESZEK BALCEROWICZ". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Życiorys". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Powrót Balcerowicza". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Tabułamacz Wprost". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Order Orła Białego Leszka Balcerowicza". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  13. ^ ref. Manager Magazin (Polish edition), issue 12/2006, Wydawnictwo Infor Manager, Warsaw 2006
  14. ^ "List of Fellows". CI. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
  15. ^ Bruegel. "Bruegel Elects New Chairman" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  16. ^ "Our Mission". for.org.pl. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Architect of Polish reforms joins Ukrainian government". uatoday.tv. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  18. ^ "SHOCK THERAPY: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM POLAND". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Leszek Balcerowicz Transformed Poland Through An Embrace Of Economic Freedom". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  20. ^ Bank, The World (30 September 1994). "Poland – Debt Reduction Program": 1. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ "Plan Balcerowicza: 25 lat od jego ogłoszenia. Mity i fakty". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Plan Balcerowicza 20 lat później: sukcesy i porażki". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  23. ^ "Jeffrey Sachs Disdains Neoliberalism, Embraces Poland – FPIF". Foreign Policy In Focus. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Portuguese paper describes Poland as "economic growth leader"". www.thefirstnews.com. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  25. ^ "How Poland's 'golden age' of economic growth is going unreported ǀ View". euronews. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  26. ^ Finance Minister of the Year 1998: Leszek Balcerowicz
  27. ^ EU Membership Highlights Poland's Migration Challenges Migration Information Source
  28. ^ "Stopa bezrobocia rejestrowanego w latach 1990–2019". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  29. ^ "Lepper: Balcerowicz musi odejść". Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  30. ^ "EURES – Labour market information – National Level – European Commission". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  31. ^ a b "Leszek Balcerowicz: The Anti-Bernanke". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  32. ^ "The Great Rebirth: Lessons from the Victory of Capitalism over Communism". Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Życiorys – www.balcerowicz.pl". www.balcerowicz.pl. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h [1] Archived 30 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ a b c "Internet Information Service". NBP. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  37. ^ a b Professor Balcerowicz – doctor honoris causa of the University of Economics in Katowice NBP
  38. ^ "Narodowy Bank Polski – Internetowy Serwis Informacyjny". NBP. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  39. ^ "Doktorzy honoris causa Uczelni". Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  40. ^ "Rzecznik Prasowy". GDA. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  41. ^ "Doktoraty Honoris Causa" (in Polish). Szkoła Główna Handlowa w Warszawie. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  42. ^ "Uniwersytet Warszawski". UW. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  43. ^ "UNSW Newsroom". UNSW. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  44. ^ "Doctor Honoris Causa – Leszek Balcerowicz". Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  45. ^ Commencement at Central Connecticut State University
  46. ^ "Honorary Doctoral Degree Awarded at November 2015 Commencement". UFM New Media. Retrieved 18 November 2015.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of the National Bank of Poland
Succeeded by