Has transition in central Asia been a failure?

The latest forecasts show that central Asia and the Caucasus are again the fastest-growing economies in the former Communist countries of eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet Union.

Yet, given the low level of income and relatively high population growth of these countries, the numbers are disappointing. On closer inspection growth is also narrow, mainly stemming from natural resources and remittances from citizens working abroad; countries less endowed with resources are doing worse. Economic reforms are mostly stuck, as are, with a few exceptions, political reform.

This week the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development brought together some of the most experienced academics and policymakers in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to try to explain this lacklustre performance...