Leszek Balcerowicz

Leszek Balcerowicz
Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
In office
September 12, 1989  December 23, 1991
President Wojciech Jaruzelski
Lech Wałęsa
Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
In office
October 31, 1997  June 8, 2000
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek
Finance Minister of Poland
1st Minister of Finance of the Third Republic of Poland
In office
September 12, 1989  December 23, 1991
President Wojciech Jaruzelski
Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Jan Krzysztof Bielecki
Preceded by Andrzej Wróblewski
Succeeded by Karol Lutowski
Finance Minister of Poland
8th Minister of Finance of the Third Republic of Poland
In office
October 31, 1997  June 8, 2000
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek
Preceded by Marek Belka
Succeeded by Jarosław Bauc
President of The National Bank of Poland
In office
January 10, 2001  January 10, 2007
Preceded by Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
Succeeded by Sławomir Skrzypek
Chairman of the Freedom Union
In office
April 1, 1995  December 18, 2000
Preceded by Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Succeeded by Bronisław Geremek
Member of Sejm
In office
October 20, 1997  October 18, 2001
Personal details
Born (1947-01-19) January 19, 1947
Lipno, Poland
Political party Freedom Union, Partia Demokratyczna – demokraci.pl
Spouse(s) Ewa Balcerowicz
Children Maciej (b. 1972) & Wojciech (b. 1980) & Anna (b. 1984)
Profession Economist

Leszek Balcerowicz (pronounced [ˈlɛʂɛk balt͡sɛˈrɔvit͡ʂ]; born January 19, 1947 in Lipno) is a Polish professor of economics, the former chairman of the National Bank of Poland and Deputy Prime Minister in Tadeusz Mazowiecki's government. He is famous for implementing the Polish economic transformation program in the 1990s, a shock therapy commonly referred to as the Balcerowicz Plan.

He is a professor at the world’s first university institute of postgraduate studies and training in European affairs, College of Europe.


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). 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.

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. 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 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. 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, the President of Poland, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, awarded L. Balcerowicz with the country's highest decoration, the Order of the White Eagle, for his contribution to Poland's economic transformation. 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. 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 Plan

For more details on this topic, see Balcerowicz Plan.

The Balcerowicz Plan was a series of reforms, which sought to end hyperinflation and balance the national budget. 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. 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.

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


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%. 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 "Shock Therapy", which left many people on the verge of subsistence. 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.


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). Responsible fiscal policy brings about better growth outcomes, claims Leszek Balcerowicz. 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.

Honorary doctorates

Leszek Balcerowicz

See also


  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". uatoday.tv. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  5. 1 2 Balcerowicz Plan: 20 Years On www.warsawvoice.pl
  6. EU Membership Highlights Poland's Migration Challenges Migration Information Source
  7. The Holy Cows of Democracy (Polish) www.wprost.pl
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Archived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. http://www.abertay.ac.uk/alumni/honours/graduates/1998/
  10. 1 2 3 "Internet Information Service". NBP. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  11. 1 2 Professor Balcerowicz – doctor honoris causa of the University of Economics in Katowice NBP
  12. "Narodowy Bank Polski - Internetowy Serwis Informacyjny". NBP. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  13. "Doktorzy honoris causa Uczelni". Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  14. "Rzecznik Prasowy". GDA. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  15. "Doktoraty Honoris Causa" (in Polish). Szkoła Główna Handlowa w Warszawie. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  16. "Uniwersytet Warszawski". UW. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  17. "UNSW Newsroom". UNSW. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  18. Doctor Honoris Causa – Leszek Balcerowicz
  19. Commencement at Central Connecticut State University
  20. "Honorary Doctoral Degree Awarded at November 2015 Commencement". UFM New Media. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz
President of the National Bank of Poland
Succeeded by
Sławomir Skrzypek
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