"The Price of Sovereignty: Russia’s Resources in World War I and the Origins of the Foreign Trade Monopoly"
Friedrich Asschenfeldt, Princeton University
Location: 210 Dickinson Hall & Zoom
This workshop will be offered in hybrid format both on Zoom and in-person. Registration is required to attend in either format. The pre-circulated paper will be available to the Princeton University community via SharePoint. All others should request a copy of the paper by emailing Jennifer Loessy at [email protected].
*A boxed lunch will be provided to those who register in-person for the workshop. Boxed lunches will be available prior to and after the workshop. We kindly ask that workshop attendees refrain from eating during the workshop.
Cohosted by: Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance
Like the Russian Empire, the Soviet State relied critically on resource exports for its economic and military development. Russia’s role as a resource supplier was cast into stark relief during World War I, when its natural riches attracted the attention of other belligerents: while the Central Powers sought to offset the effects of the Allied blockade through the military conquest of Ukraine, the Entente, notably Britain, attempted to gain hold of resources in the Russian Empire by extending wartime loans. When they came to power, the Bolsheviks thus faced a dilemma: On the one hand, they sought to prevent the “plunder” of Russia’s resources – like grain, timber and Manganese – by foreign capitalists. On the other, they would depend on the hard currency generated by the sale of these resources for the sake of reconstruction and rearmament. Specifically, the paper shows how the Bolsheviks tried to resolve this dilemma in April 1918 by introducing the Foreign Trade Monopoly, a hallmark of Soviet economic organization until its collapse. In contrast to the economic system under the Tsars, the Foreign Trade Monopoly was designed to grant the state ultimate authority over the proceeds from selling resources on the world market.