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Leszek Henryk Balcerowicz (pronounced [ˈlɛʂɛk balt͡sɛˈrɔvit͡ʂ] (About this soundlisten); born January 19, 1947) is a Polish economist who is currently a professor of economics at the Warsaw School of Economics. He served as the chairman of the National Bank of Poland from 2001 to 2007, after serving as Poland's Deputy Prime Minister in Tadeusz Mazowiecki's government. He is known for implementing the controversial Polish economic transformation program in the 1990s commonly referred to as the Balcerowicz Plan.

Leszek Balcerowicz
Leszek Balcerowicz 2017.jpg
Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
In office
September 12, 1989 – December 23, 1991
PresidentWojciech Jaruzelski
Lech Wałęsa
Prime MinisterTadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
In office
October 31, 1997 – June 8, 2000
PresidentAleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime MinisterJerzy Buzek
Finance Minister of Poland
In office
September 12, 1989 – December 23, 1991
PresidentWojciech Jaruzelski
Prime MinisterTadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Preceded byAndrzej Wróblewski
Succeeded byKarol Lutowski
Finance Minister of Poland
In office
October 31, 1997 – June 8, 2000
PresidentAleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime MinisterJerzy Buzek
Preceded byMarek Belka
Succeeded byJarosław Bauc
President of The National Bank of Poland
In office
January 10, 2001 – January 10, 2007
Preceded byHanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Succeeded bySławomir Skrzypek
Chairman of the Freedom Union
In office
April 1, 1995 – December 18, 2000
Preceded byTadeusz Mazowiecki
Succeeded byBronisław Geremek
Member of Sejm
In office
October 20, 1997 – October 18, 2001
Personal details
Born (1947-01-19) January 19, 1947 (age 72)
Lipno, Poland
Political partyFreedom Union, Partia Demokratyczna –
Spouse(s)Ewa Balcerowicz
ChildrenMaciej (b. 1972) & Wojciech (b. 1980) & Anna (b. 1984)



In 1970 he graduated with distinction from the Foreign Trade faculty of the Central School of Planning and Statistics in Warsaw (now the Warsaw School of Economics).[citation needed] Balcerowicz received his MBA from St. John's University in New York, in 1974 and doctorate from the Central School of Planning and Statistics in 1975.[citation needed]

He was a member of the Polish communist party (Polish United Workers' Party) from 1969 until the declaration of martial law in Poland, in 1981.[citation needed] In the late 1970s he participated in an economic-advisory team associated with the prime minister of People's Republic of Poland.[citation needed] In 1978–1980 he worked at the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Later he became an economics expert in the independent trade union Solidarity, and was forced to leave the communist party.[citation needed]

From September 1989 to August 1991 and also between October 31, 1997 and June 8, 2000 he held the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland. Between 1995 and 2000 he was the chairman of Freedom Union, then a centrist political party.[citation needed] On December 22, 2000 he became the Chairman of the National Bank of Poland. He was also a columnist for Wprost, a Polish news magazine.[citation needed]

On November 11, 2005, the President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, awarded L. Balcerowicz with the Order of the White Eagle for his "contribution to Poland's economic transformation".[citation needed] In 2006 he was elected member of Galeria Chwały Polskiej Ekonomii, a hall of fame for "outstanding Polish economists".[1]

Balcerowicz is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an independent initiative hosted by the UNDP and the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and the law.[citation needed] He is also a member of the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty, and is a Board member of renowned Washington, D.C. think-tank the Peterson Institute. Fellow of Collegium Invisibile.[2]

Since June 11, 2008 Balcerowicz has been a member of the board of Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank on international economics.[3]

In 2016 he was appointed as representative of the Ukrainian President in the Cabinet of ministers.[4]

Balcerowicz PlanEdit

The Balcerowicz Plan was a series of reforms, which sought to end hyperinflation and balance the national budget.[citation needed] The prices of most consumer goods were freed and caps for annual increases established in state-sector employees' wages. Poland's currency, the złoty, was made convertible within the country's borders.[citation needed] This resulted in a substantial increase in prices and had forced state-owned companies to become competitive. This amounted to a real shock to the Polish economy.[citation needed]

The reforms were controversial and made Balcerowicz an object of harsh criticism, especially in his homeland. On the other hand, most economists[who?] agree that without introducing such radical changes, Poland's economic success and steady economic growth would not have been possible.[citation needed] Since 1989, Poland's annual growth rate was one of the highest of all post-Communist economies, and has not entered economic recession, however the country has witnessed increased unemployment, poverty and pauperisation.[citation needed]


Initially, public support for Balcerowicz's plan amounted to 50%, while decreasing consistently in later years.[5]

High unemployment has remained a problem in Poland since the initiation of reforms, leaving certain poverty-stricken regions with structural unemployment.[5] Even though over 2 million Poles have emigrated [6] from Poland since its entry into the EU, the unemployment level remains at 13%.[citation needed] Interventionist politician Andrzej Lepper, the leader of the populist Self-Defense (Samoobrona) party, created the slogan: "Balcerowicz must go" (Balcerowicz musi odejść), echoing the disgruntlement felt by many Poles with Balcerowicz's plan, which left many people on the verge of subsistence.[citation needed] Press commentary suggests that criticism of Balcerowicz is often muzzled.[7] As a result, he is perceived as being an unchallenged authoritative viewpoint on post-communist changes in Poland.[citation needed]


During the Eurozone crisis Balcerowicz has been an outspoken supporter for fiscal discipline and has been frequently dubbed the anti-Bernanke for his scorn of distortionary fiscal stimulus. In various articles he has developed a comparison between the fiscally-profligate PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) and the fiscally-disciplined BELLs (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).[citation needed] Responsible fiscal policy brings about better growth outcomes, claims Leszek Balcerowicz.[citation needed] He has many followers among East European economists, most prominently Simeon Djankov, Deputy prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Bulgaria between 2009 and 2013.[citation needed]

Honorary doctoratesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ref. Manager Magazin (Polish edition), issue 12/2006, Wydawnictwo Infor Manager, Warsaw 2006
  2. ^ "List of Fellows". CI. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  3. ^ Bruegel. "Bruegel Elects New Chairman" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 7, 2009. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
  4. ^ "Architect of Polish reforms joins Ukrainian government". Retrieved April 22, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Balcerowicz Plan: 20 Years On
  6. ^ EU Membership Highlights Poland's Migration Challenges Migration Information Source
  7. ^ The Holy Cows of Democracy (Polish)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h [1] Archived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b c "Internet Information Service". NBP. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Professor Balcerowicz – doctor honoris causa of the University of Economics in Katowice NBP
  12. ^ "Narodowy Bank Polski - Internetowy Serwis Informacyjny". NBP. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  13. ^ "Doktorzy honoris causa Uczelni". Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "Rzecznik Prasowy". GDA. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "Doktoraty Honoris Causa" (in Polish). Szkoła Główna Handlowa w Warszawie. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  16. ^ "Uniwersytet Warszawski". UW. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  17. ^ "UNSW Newsroom". UNSW. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  18. ^ Doctor Honoris Causa – Leszek Balcerowicz[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Commencement at Central Connecticut State University
  20. ^ "Honorary Doctoral Degree Awarded at November 2015 Commencement". UFM New Media. Retrieved November 18, 2015.

External linksEdit