Leszek Balcerowicz: The Independent Institute

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Leszek Balcerowicz
Leszek Balcerowicz

Leszek Balcerowicz is Professor of Economics in the Department of International Comparative Studies at Warsaw School of Economics and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Independent Institute. The architect of the free-market economic reforms initiated after the fall of communism in Poland, he is former President of the National Bank of Poland and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the Republic of Poland.

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). Dr. Balcerowicz received his MBA from St. John's University in New York in 1974 and doctorate from the Warsaw School of Economics in 1975.

Dr. Balcerowicz was a member of the Polish communist party (Polish United Workers' Party) from 1969 until the declaration of martial law in Poland in 1981. In the late 1970s he participated in an economic-advisory team associated with the prime minister of People's Republic of Poland. 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.

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. From 1992–2000, he chaired the Council of Scientific Council of the Center for Social and Economic Research. Between 1995 and 2000 he was the chairman of Freedom Union, then a centrist political party. On December 22, 2000 he became the Chairman of the National Bank of Poland. He was also a columnist for Wprost, a popular Polish news magazine.

On November 11, 2005, Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski awarded Dr. Balcerowicz with the country's highest decoration, the Order of the White Eagle, for his contribution to Poland's economic transformation, a “shock therapy” commonly referred to as the “Balcerowicz Plan." In 2006 he was elected a member of Galeria Chwały Polskiej Ekonomii, a hall of fame for outstanding Polish economists.

Dr. Balcerowicz is a member of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, an independent initiative hosted by the United Nations Development Programme and the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and the law. He is also a member of the financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty, a Fellow of Collegium Invisibile, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics and Chairman of Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank on international economics.

His books include Socialism, Capitalism, Transformation; Freedom and Development: The Economics of Free Market, Post-Communist Transition: Some Lessons; and Toward a Limited State. Dr. Balcerowicz is also the recipient of the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, Ludwig Erhard Prize, Friedrich August von Hayek Prize, Carl Bertelsmann Prize, Transatlantic Leadership Award, and Emerging Markets Award, as well as twenty honorary doctoral degrees.