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Bankers and Bolsheviks$
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Hassan Malik

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691170169

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691170169.001.0001

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(p.208) Conclusion
Bankers and Bolsheviks

Hassan Malik

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter explains that both the Bolshevik Revolution and the subsequent default were intertwined and historically contingent. They emerged from a particular set of historical circumstances, processes, and turning points. The events and the processes that produced them were linked by the explicitly financial character of the war the Bolsheviks waged against their opponents—be they the ancien régime, the Provisional Government, domestic class enemies, or foreign powers. Indeed, by 1917 and well before the Bolshevik takeover, a default in Russia—whether in the form of an outright cancellation of debts or a “restructuring”—had become inevitable. Three years of war had seen the Russian Empire lose critical parts of its economy to the enemy, while the strategy of relying on domestic debt markets had seen diminishing returns, forcing the government to resort to the printing press. Even by employing the latter method, the government could not keep up. Under such circumstances, even counterfeiters could not keep pace with the rate at which currency was being issued.

Keywords:   Bolshevik Revolution, Russian Empire, default, Bolsheviks, domestic debt markets, Russian government

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