Soviet Alchemy: How the Stalinist Government Found Gold to Finance Industrialization


At the end of the 1920s, the Soviet Union started industrialization with no gold and currency reserves. The government feverishly sought gold to pay the tremendous foreign debts acquired to purchase foreign equipment, materials, aid of specialists, and technologies. State-run currency stores called Torgsin, which exchanged food and goods for people’s heirlooms during the lean years of industrialization, became one of the major sources of revenues in the early 1930s. This case study encourages readers to think about the multiple, and often extraordinary, ways the government can finance its ambitious projects and the implications that such state strategies might have for a chosen economic model, people’s survival and enrichment, and official ideology.

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