Judy Shelton on the Soviet Economy
By David Henderson
I’ve been reading today about the background of Judy Shelton, whom President Trump wants to appoint to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Right now I’m leaning somewhat in favor and trying to learn enough to be able to write an article about the potential appointment. I don’t know enough yet.
But I did come across a 1989 Brian Lamb interview of her about her (then) recently published book, The Coming Soviet Crash. I love the poise she has and the way she actually thinks before answering.
Here’s my favorite part so far:
Did you change your mind about anything from what you thought the place was going to be like during the time you wrote the book and when you got there?
Things were worse that I expected. My study was based on numbers and looking at government figures and statistics. When you see economic problems on paper, it doesn’t hit you as hard as when you go out and see decrepit buildings and lousy roads. Most telling for my husband and I was we had wonderful guides both in Moscow and Leningrad, and the young lady who took care of us in Moscow, she accompanied us to dinner and at the end of the meal sitting on the table was a little stand with some bad peaches. I mean, visibly rotting with holes on them peaches.
And we had had a sumptuous meal and our guide wasn’t interested in having any, but she looked around at the end of the meal taken away the last of the plates and she whispered, “Are you going to eat that fruit?” And we said, “No, no we’re not.” She said, “Would you mind if I had some?” “Of course, help yourself.” And she looked around and she opened her big bag and she dumped it into her bag and the next morning told us her son thanked us, her mother thanked us, her father thanked us, and it was the first fruit they’d had that year and the contrast between the way we were treated.
Actually I think we had luxury accommodations and great meals contrary to what a lot of people have told me their experience has been. And this very telling example from this young lady, who had a pretty good job, made me realize in addition to what I was observing on the streets, the lines in the stores, the general run-down condition of virtually everything had a stronger impact than the numbers ever had.