Economic change up to 1914

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  • To what extent was Russia's economy transformed in the years leading up to 1914?
    • Stolypin
      • Brutally supressed opposition with capital punishment and marshall law.
      • Stolypin introduced a number of significant land reforms, which allowed peasants to own land individually, rather than it being owned by the collective communities.
        • The aim of this was to create a class of moderately wealthy conservative small farmers who would support the autocracy.
          • Land reforms were however relatively unsuccessful, and by the end of 1916, no more than 20% of peasant households held title to their land, and they did not create the bulwark of support that the autocracy needed to survive, before its collapse in 1917.
    • Witte
      • Known for major economic reforms and liberal political outlook.
      • Introduced the gold standard. This essentially meant that the value of the ruble was now directly linked to a given amount of gold, which was the case with most world currencies.
        • This encouraged foreign investment and made Russia look like a more respectable and trustworthy economic power on the world stage.
        • Consumers in Russia were penalised as they had to pay higher prices which were introduced by traders in order to keep up with the increased value of the rouble.
      • Was minister of finance when the Trans-Siberian railway was built.
        • This was a big step for Russia given the fact that the country is very large and that there was no effective transport system.
      • Witte's economic reforms paved the way for industrialisation and economic growth in Russia.
      • Witte also introduced a number of protectionist policies by raising tariffs on imports.
        • This safeguarded Russia's young domestic industries and discouraged importers from bringing foreign goods into the country
        • It did result in a rise in prices of goods, which made them scarcer.
    • Industrialisation
      • While Russia was attempting to industrialise herself during this period, her economy was mainly focused on agriculture, but it was slow and outdated.
      • Witte attempted to increase agricultural and industrial output, but this meant that workers in factories were working longer hours in poor conditions for no more pay.


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