The Economic History Review

The wheels of a command economy: allocating Soviet vehicles

Volume 55 Issue 2
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Pages: 324-348Authors: Valery Lazarev, Paul R. Gregory
Published online: June 28, 2008DOI: 10.1111/1468-0289.00223

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Using original archival sources, this article traces the allocation of vehicles by the Soviet economy and shows the complicated reality of the system’s operation. ‘Planned’ distribution was anything but orderly as decrees overturned quarterly plans, wholesalers ignored planning instructions by keeping vehicles for themselves or redirecting them to others, and the producer intervened through its control of the planning ‘aftermarket’. Existing stocks of vehicles were redistributed by administrative mobilizations that were resisted and thwarted by those losing vehicles. Behind the scenes, ‘grey’ markets reallocated used vehicles.