Liberman, Yevsei Grigorevich

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(18971983), economist who proposed making profit the main success indicator for Soviet enterprises.

Yevsei Grigorevich Liberman's education and career were erratic and undistinguished. He graduated from the law faculty at Kiev University in 1920 and then earned a candidate of sciences degree at the Institute of Labor in Kharkov. In 1930 he began to work in the Kharkov Engineering-Economics Institute. During World War II he was evacuated to Kyrgyzstan, where he held positions in the Ministry of Finance and the Scientific Research Institute of Finance. He returned to the Kharkov Engineering-Economics Institute after the war and in 1963 became a professor of statistics at Kharkov University. At various times he was also the director of a machinery plant and a consultant to machinery plants.

Liberman's personal experience in actual enterprises helped him to understand the shortcomings of the Soviet incentive system. As early as his doctoral dissertation in 1957, he suggested reducing the number of planning indicators for firms and focusing on profit instead. In 1962 he became a cause célèbre when he published an article in Pravda that proposed making profit the sole success indicator in evaluating enterprise performance. Since Liberman was not a significant player in economic reform circles, it is thought that others, such as Vasily Sergeyevich Nemchinov, engineered publication of this article as a trial balloon. Thus he was more significant as a lightning rod around which controversy swirled than as a thinker with a sophisticated understanding of economics or of the complex task of transforming the Soviet administrative command system.

See also: nemchinov, vasily sergeyevich


Liberman, E. G. (1971). Economic Methods and the Effectiveness of Production. White Plains, NY: International Arts and Sciences Press.

Treml, Vladimir G. (1968). "The Politics of Libermanism." Soviet Studies 29:567572.

Robert W. Campbell