John H. Gutfreund, Chairman & CEO, Salomon Brothers Inc
Article for a French publication, La Cote Desfossés—L’Année Financière, January 1991
Working with Mr. Gutfreund, I wrote the article—in English. (Someone else translated it!)
Excerpts from the opening and closing:
…Within the first few months of 1990, totalitarian regimes that looked as though they would rule forever had vanished. Both in the West and in the newly freed East, optimism reigned. The 1990s, it seemed, would be a decade of peace and prosperity.
Over a year after these historic events, the region is no closer to realizing these dreams. Central and Eastern European leaders trying to dismantle the mechanics of command economies are faced with shrinking production, growing unemployment, and a lack of new investment. We in the West, vocal defenders of the political and economic ideology of freedom, are offering little practical help now that the time has come to turn our rhetoric into reality. Recession and unemployment in much of the West and the instability introduced into the world by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait have drawn our attention away from the pressing needs of Central and Eastern Europe. Our lessening focus on the region is disturbing…
…When countries are strong individually, they are better able to pool their strength to help other countries. The people of Central and Eastern Europe took a risk a year ago when they toppled their totalitarian leaders. Today that risk has been multiplied by the difficulty in agreeing on concrete steps to create market economies, by the shortfall in new investment, and by unfavorable external developments.
Many of the challenges facing these countries are domestic: Uncertainty haunts their new political systems. At the same time, the people of Central and Eastern Europe cannot wait until the developed world finds a convenient time to help them. They need our help, they need our advice, they need our capital—now. After forty years of extolling the virtues of the free-market system, it is the least we can do…