Economic Fluctuations in Russia (from the late 1920s to 2015)
In many respects, the historical trajectory of the Russian economy during the XX century has been a terra incognita until now. As for official statistics, at least three important reasons can be given for this. First, many relevant indicators were either not measured or were kept secret and never published. Second, Russia (as the RSFSR) was a part of the USSR, and statistics for the RSFSR were much less prevalent than for the USSR as a whole (historical changes in Russia’s borders also require special consideration). Third, an ideological dogma implied the absence of inflation in the planned Soviet economy; therefore, all deflators (if any) were underestimated, and all aggregates in constant and/or comparable prices were overestimated (as were the corresponding growth rates). As for the unofficial historical estimates, most of them were focused on the USSR, not on the RSFSR; therefore, there is a considerable risk in using them as a proxy for historical indicators of the Russian Federation.
Hence, our first aim was to construct statistical time series that might be useful in describing the long-term trajectory of the Russian (the RSFSR and/or the RF) economy. Using previously unpublished data stored in Russian archives, we attempted to extend them as far back as possible; in fact, most of the series began in the late 1920s.
Our second aim was to denote periods of growth and contraction in the Russian economy and to reveal the economic factors that caused changes in trajectory. Periods of contraction during the era of the planned economy were of special interest for us. We found that recessions had occurred, not only in the market but also in the planned Russian economy (of course, with a significant remark that contractions in the planned economy were much rarer but evidently more destructive).