Russian Economy Can't Reform Overnight

The article ``Present Shock: Russia Under Economic Strain,'' Nov. 2, reports Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs as saying, ``The greatest danger in Russia these days is that reform is being administered too gradually'' and blames the West for not offering more financial aid.

Several years ago, before an audience of economists in London, I heard Mr. Sachs make a powerful plea for large-scale aid to the Soviet Union, but I was skeptical about his belief that the Soviet economy must be immediately reformed to conform with market-led forces.

This skepticism has since been confirmed by the collapse of the Soviet economy. It is unrealistic to try to quickly transform the economy of a country before underlying conditions are favorable.

A new opportunity will occur next March, when world leaders meet at the UN World Summit in Copenhagen to discuss social and economic issues. This meeting could be our best chance to encourage regional peace and reform the UN to forestall the breakdown of the world economy. Ted Dunn, Essex, England

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