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By Hans J. Morgenthau

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Production will then cease to be anarchic. ”18 In the real world, however, it is practically impossible for there to be anything remotely resembling the all-knowing, superrational, allpowerful state imagined by authors who claim that central government control can reduce or eliminate economic fluctuations. One obvious problem is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Those put in charge would be sorely tempted to maximize their own welfare rather than that of society as a whole. SOCIALIST BOOMS AND BUSTS 39 A more fundamental objection can be raised on logical grounds.

The citizens to whom they ostensibly belong do not have meaningful residual claims. In contrast, the state’s managers, to a much greater extent than their private sector counterparts, tend to act as residual claimants in good times, though not in bad. Officials and managers also frequently appear to be owners on the basis of (2) and (3) but not (4). In the case of China, this kind of ambiguity is amplified. Entities are often deliberately set up in a manner that disguises the identity of their real owners.

Finally, in a “one manager, two businesses” situation, the manager simply sets up a private business, often in the name of a relative. The new business then takes advantage of the manager’s dual role to obtain free access to the state firm’s assets and possibly also to borrow from it on favorable terms. The existence of such arrangements, apparently quite common, makes it impossible to draw a clear line between state and private ownership. A project classified as belonging to a limited liability company (LLC), for example, might have been undertaken by the wholly owned subsidiary of a state enterprise, in which case it would logically be thought of as a state sector investment.

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