NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Fall 2010

Instructor Details

Barbara G. Katz


212 998 0865

MW 3:30-4:30

KMC 7-82

Fax:  212 995 4218


Course Meetings

MW, 2:00pm to 3:15pm

KMC 3-80


Course Description and Learning Goals

Two major socioeconomic events occurred in the 20th century: the creation of the centrally planned economy (CPE) in the late 1920’s, and the dismantling of the CPE and its replacement with markets after both the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.  Directly affected by this transition are the twenty-nine countries known as the “economies in transition,” (abbreviated EIT), eight of which became members of the European Union (EU) in May 2004.  Of those eight, seven were either part of the former Soviet Union or in its sphere of influence. Two additional former Soviet-bloc countries joined the EU in January 2007.  Slovenia, which joined in the first wave, is the first EIT to have met the requirements to adopt the euro, and did so January 1, 2007.  Slovakia followed January 1, 2009, and Estonia will adopt the euro January 1, 2011.  Slovenia is also the first central European state to have held the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June, 2008), followed by the Czech Republic (January-June, 2009).  Hungary (January-June), and then Poland (July-December) will share the office in 2011.  The Russian Federation, which came to an agreement with the EU over issues relating to EU enlargement, now conducts more than one-half of its trade with the EU.  The two are also interdependent with regard to energy, as the EU is the largest purchaser of gas from Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled natural gas company.  The political and economic ramifications of these trade connections are still evolving.  On several occasions payment issues between Gazprom and Ukraine disrupted the flow of gas not only to Ukraine, but to Europe as well.  Similar issues between Gazprom and Belarus have also created gas disruptions.  In terms of further integration of the EIT into the world economic framework, some of the countries in the region have already acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO), with Ukraine being the most recent (May 2008).  However, Russia and Kazakhstan, among others, have not.  In May 2004, Russia won the backing of the EU, and later in the year the backing of China, for its bid to join the WTO, and the US concurred in November 2006, but accession stalled.  Events surrounding the 2008 Georgian-Russian conflict over South Ossetia mooted Russia’s bid to join the organization, as did Russian ambivalence.  In 2009, Russia announced it would only join the WTO via the customs union with two other non-members Kazakhstan and Belarus, but abandoned that plan later in the year.  After the customs union was established in July 2010, Russia reiterated its goal of joining the WTO via this customs union.  Nonetheless, again, accession seems stalled.  


In 2003, for the fourth consecutive year, the region as a whole experienced faster output growth (5.6%) than the global economy (3.2%).  This trend continued in 2004, with the region growing at its fastest rate (6.5%) since transition began.  The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) predicted a more modest growth rate of GDP (5.3%) for 2005, but later estimated that growth for the region was slightly higher (5.7%).  The 2006 prediction for the region was 6.2% and actual growth was 6.9%, the highest since the start of transition.  The regional growth for the year 2007 was anticipated to be even higher, at 7%, and attained 7.5%, before slowing to 4.8% in 2008 (far below the original prediction of 6.3%) due to the evolving global financial crisis.  Predictions for regional growth for 2009 were difficult due to the crisis and, between November 2008 and January 2009, were revised downward from 2.5% to 0.1%.  In fact, according to the EBRD, the region contracted by 6.3% in 2009, the worst decline since the recession that followed the end of communism.  Declines of more than 10% were experienced in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia and Ukraine.  EBRD predictions for regional growth in 2010 and 2011 are 3.5% and 3.9%, respectively. 


Although by 2003 the region had experienced strong growth for six consecutive years, that sanguine picture was rather new then: Initially output fell in all the countries, drastically in many, and income inequality increased significantly, with many individuals falling below the poverty line.  Capital flight, crony capitalism, insufficient institutional development, poor corporate governance, and the lack of the rule of law were significant problems in many of the countries.  Some of these problems continue to persist in some countries of the region, and the spread of the financial and economic crisis intensified some of them (e.g., capital flight) and also created additional concerns relating to fiscal and currency issues.  The IMF has agreed to loan funds to several EIT, including Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Romania, Georgia, and Armenia, to help them stabilize their countries in the face of the financial and economic crisis.   

This course provides a framework for understanding the process of transition by furnishing a basic knowledge of the administrative-command mechanism identified with Soviet central planning, followed by an in-depth study of the transition experience and an assessment of its progress twenty-plus years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Questions that will concern us include:  Why has it proven so difficult for these former communist countries to make the transition to capitalism?  Can the difficulties be traced to aspects of the discredited centrally planned mechanism? Can they be traced to the Washington Consensus that guided much of the philosophy of the transition strategies?  Can they be traced to the methods by which state property was privatized?  Why has the transition been more successful for some and not others?  What is the role of institutions in the transition?  What infrastructure changes are still needed?  How has integration into the global economy affected these countries?  How have fiscal imbalances affected these countries?  When will we know if the transition is over?  How do we assess the early transition preoccupation with big-bang versus gradualist policies?  Given the world financial crisis, are there lessons the developed western economies can learn regarding government sponsored enterprises from EIT?  Were there special aspects of the EIT that influenced the way they were affected by the crisis?  What were the impacts of the crisis on the EIT?  Our exploration of the EIT will include the discussion of two cases, one relating to the privatization of an enterprise in Poland, and the other relating to corporate governance issues raised by the largest public equity fund focused on Russia.


Course Pre-Requisites

Economics of Global Business


To Prepare for the First Class

It is strongly advised that as soon as you decide to take this class, you begin following the current events in the various economies in transition.  You can do this by consistently reading relevant articles in the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or in weekly magazines such as The Economist.  You can also keep up to date by reading articles on various websites; in particular, you might become familiar with http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/default.cfm, the home page of Johnson’s Russia List.  Those of you who really wish to immerse yourselves in Russian current events may choose to subscribe to this list (see details on that home page), but be aware that you will receive very long newsletters on a daily basis.  Other useful websites include Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty http://www.rferl.org/section/Russia/161.html, Roubini Global Economics http://www.roubini.com  (login from an NYU location using your Stern user id), Yale Global http://yaleglobal.yale.eduand The New York Times country site http://www.nytimes.com/world(look at individual countries).

For those of you who might like to begin reading some material before the first class, I suggest the following selections.   Note, it is not necessary that you do this reading before the class starts, but this will be the first assignment.

Stiglitz, Joseph E. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.

*Read:  Preface, Ch. 1, “The Promise of Global Institutions,” Ch. 5, “Who Lost Russia?” Ch. 6, “Unfair Fair Trade Laws and Other Mischief,” Ch. 7, “Better Roads to the Market,” and Afterword.
*Skim:  Ch. 3, “Freedom to Choose?” focusing on the description of the Washington Consensus.                    

*OECD, Russian FederationEconomic Survey 2006, 11/06:  Executive Summary

*EBRD-World Bank,Life in Transition:  Current Attitudes, 5/07:  Summary from Beyond Transition Newsletter

*Council on Foreign Relations Expert Brief, Russia and the Global Economic Crisis, 11/08

*EBRD Transition Report 2009, 11/09:  Forward

*Gorbachev, Mikhail. “Paradise Lost,” The New YorkTimes, 3/13/10

*OECD Economic Outlook, Russian Federation - Economic Outlook 87 Country Summary,5/10


Course Materials

Stiglitz, Joseph E.  Globalization and Its Discontents.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.

Sachs, Jeffrey.  Poland’s Jump to the Market Economy.  Cambridge:  MIT Press,  1993.

Boycko, Maxim, Shleifer, Andrei, and Vishny, Robert.  Privatizing Russia.  Cambridge, MIT Press, 1995.

Course Pack of required readings:  Contains readings not available on the web and   Harvard Business School Cases: Prochnik: Privatization of a Polish Clothing Manufacturer, Case No. 9-394-038, and The Hermitage Fund: Media and Corporate Governance in Russia, Case No. 9-703-010
Packet of course notes to be distributed in class
Reading on the syllabus are required, and indicated by an *.  Where possible, links are provided in the syllabus to these readings.  Although I have set up the links so that you may have direct off-campus access, if you have a problem accessing any of the materials, please see the directions for connecting from off-campus.
I strongly suggest that you read the assigned reading before the class discussion of the topic.  In the class discussion I will usually cover the concepts and issues that are most challenging, reinforcing and extending what is in the required reading.  I suggest that after the class session you review the assigned reading to solidify your understanding.  A list of optional readings will also be available in case you wish to go more deeply into a particular topic; these readings may also serve as useful starting points for research for your term paper.  Optional readings are not required.
It is very important that you keep up with current economic and political developments in the economies in transition.  You can do this by reading relevant articles in the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal or in weekly magazines such as The Economist; you can also keep up to date by reading various websites.  You are encouraged to bring up current events for discussion in class, as time permits.
Blackboard Web Site http://sternclasses.nyu.edu
I will maintain a web site using Blackboard.  The web site will include announcements and downloadable files with nearly all the class handouts.  Please check it regularly.



Assessment Components

The course grade will be based on the following items, with weights indicated:

Midterm examination:  mid-November, before Thanksgiving  40%
Term Paper: 10-15 pages, due 12/15/10 40%
Case Discussions 10%
Class Participation (quality more than quantity)  10%

There is no final examination in this course; however, your participation in all class sessions is required.  Please note,  there is no “make-up” midterm exam.  Time permitting, students will make brief oral presentations of their term papers in class.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter. Assigning grades that reward excellence and reflect differences in performance is important to ensuring the integrity of our curriculum.

In general, students in this elective course can expect a grading distribution where about 50% of students will receive A’s for excellent work and the remainder will receive B’s for good or very good work. In the event that a student performs only adequately or below, he or she can expect to receive a C or lower.

Note that the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well each of you actually performs in this course.



I presume that we are all adults.  There are several implications of this:


Laptop Policy

I strongly prefer that you do not use your laptops in class.  You will be given a pack of lecture notes in each class, and you can take additional notes, as necessary, on them.


Evaluation of Written Work

The exam will be based on the assigned readings, class discussions and multimedia sources, as used.  My goal in making the exam is to provide you with the opportunity to express your mastery of the topics we have studied together, as well as to explore your ability to develop new insights.  Your term paper will be evaluated on content, presentation and quality of sources utilized, and will be on a relevant topic of your own choice, subject to my approval.  As this is an elective course, I assume you are keenly interested in the subject matter, and expect a grade distribution that reflects this.


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


Contacting Professor Katz

I will usually be available for questions in the classroom during the several minutes before and after the class session.  Office hours will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; you can also contact me to arrange a mutually agreeable time to meet.  You can also drop by my office, KMC 7-82; if I am there, I can usually make some time to talk with you.  My phone number is 212-998-0865, my fax is 212-995-4218, and my email address is bkatz@stern.nyu.edu.  I usually respond quickly to email messages, so this is an excellent way to contact me.


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Course Outline


I.            Introduction:  Overview of the Main Issues plus the Current State of the Economies in Transition       

Stiglitz, Joseph E. Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.  *Read:  Preface, Ch. 1, “The Promise of Global Institutions,” Ch. 5, “Who Lost Russia?” Ch. 6, “Unfair Fair Trade Laws and Other Mischief,” Ch. 7, “Better Roads to the Market,” and Afterword.

*Skim:  Ch. 3, “Freedom to Choose?” focusing on the description of the Washington Consensus.

*OECD, Russian FederationEconomic Survey 2006, 11/06:  Executive Summary

*EBRD-World Bank,Life in Transition:  Current Attitudes, 5/07:  Summary from Beyond Transition Newsletter

*Council on Foreign Relations Expert Brief Russia and the Global Economic Crisis, 11/08

*EBRD Transition Report 2009, 11/09:  Forward

*Gorbachev, Mikhail. “Paradise Lost,” The New YorkTimes, 3/13/10

*OECD Economic Outlook, Russian Federation - Economic Outlook 87 Country Summary,5/10

Video:  Selections from CNN Cold War Series #23:  The Wall Comes Down, 1989

 II.         Setting the Context:  Highlights of Russian and Soviet Economic History

*Gros, Daniel and Steinherr, Alfred.  Economic Transition in Central and Eastern Europe:  Planting the Seeds, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Ch. 1, “From Pre-War Russia to the Fall of Communism,” pp. 13-39. (In course pack)


III.         What was Central Planning?

A.  Understanding the Administrative-Command Mechanism:  How did it Work?

*Ericson, Richard E.  "The Classical Soviet-Type Economy: Nature of the System and Implications for Reform."  Journal of Economic Perspectives5: 4, Fall 1991, pp. 11-28. 

B.  What were its legacies?

Video:  Selections from CNN Cold War Series #6:  Reds, 1947-1953

C. Perestroika:  The Last Attempt at Reform

*Aven, Petr O.  “Economic Policy and the Reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev:  A Short History,” in What is to Be Done?  Proposals for the Soviet Transition to the Market, edited by Merton J. Peck and Thomas J. Richardson.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1991, Appendix A:  pp. 179-206.  (In course pack)

*Shiller, Robert J., Boycko, Maxim, and Korobov, Vladimir.  "Popular Attitudes Toward Free Markets: The Soviet Union and the United States Compared," American Economic Review81: 3, June 1991, pp. 385-400.

*Shiller, Robert J., Boycko, Maxim, and Korobov, Vladimir.  "Hunting for Homo Sovieticus:  Situational Versus Attitudinal Factors in Economic Behavior." Brookings Papers on Economic Activity1, 1992, pp. 127-181.


IV.        Transition:  The Problem

A.  How Far and How Fast?
1.  Macroeconomic Stabilization
          2.  Price Liberalization
          3.  Privatization
          4.  International Assistance
          5.  Big-bang vs. Gradualism

*Sachs, Jeffrey.  Polands’s Jump to the Market Economy.  Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1993

*Fischer, Stanley and Frenkel, Jacob. “Key Issues of Soviet Economic Reform:  Macroeconomic Issues of Soviet Reform,” American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings82: 2, May 1992, pp. 37-42. 

*Murrell, Peter.  “How Far Has the Transition Progressed?” Journal of Economic Perspectives10: 2, Spring 1996, pp.25-44. (Skim.)

B.  Mass Privatization
1.  Voucher Privatization
a.  Czech Republic’s Experience
b.  Russia’s Experience
2.  Poland’s Mutual Fund Approach
3.  Theory of Voucher Privatization: Contrasting the Voucher Approach with the Mutual Fund Approach
4.  Hungary’s Spontaneous Privatization
5.  Germany’s Re-unification Experience

*Boycko, Maxim, Shleifer, Andrei, and Vishny, Robert.  Privatizing Russia. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995.

*Barberis, Nicolas, Boycko, Maxim, Shleifer, Andrei and Tsukanova, Natalia.  “How Does Privatization Work?  Evidence from the Russian Shops,” Journal of Political Economy104: 4, 1996, pp. 764-790.

*Anatoly Chubais interview, Der Spiegel, 9/25/07

*Katz, Barbara G., and Owen, Joel.  “Optimal Voucher Privatization Fund Bids When Bidding Affects Firm Performance,” Journal of Comparative Economics24: 1, February 1997, pp. 25-29 and pp. 37-40.

C.  Loans for Shares in Russia

Video:Loans for Shareshttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/video/qt/mini_p02_19_56.html

Commanding Heights: Up for Debate: Privatization: Who Wins? Russia's Reform Compromise See interview with Y. Gaidar, pp. 1-2; skim the remaining pages 2-10 with interviews of Yavlinsky, Chubais, Stiglitz, Sachs, Shevtsova.


V.          Transition:  The Evidence and How to Evaluate It

A. Impacts on Output, Employment, Prices, Social Safety Net, etc.

* Kornai, Janos. “The Great Transformation of Central Eastern Europe,” Economics of Transition14:2, 2006, pp. 207-244.

*Fischer, Stanley, Sahay, Ratna, and Vegh, Carlos A.  “Stabilization and Growth in Transition Economies: The Early Experience,” Journal of Economic Perspectives10: 2, Spring 1996, pp. 45-66.

*McKinsey Global Institute.  Unlocking Economic Growth in Russia, Moscow: October, 1999, Executive Summary.

B. Corporate Governance Issues

 *Black, Bernard, Kraakman, Reinier, and Tarassova, Anna.  “Russian Privatization and Corporate Governance:  What Went Wrong?” Stanford Law Review52, 2000, pp. 1731-1808. (Skim)

C.  Banking, Financial Markets, the Crisis of 1998 and Beyond

*Chiodo, Abbigail and Owyang, Michael.  “A Case Study of a Currency Crisis: The          Russian Default of 1998,” The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2002, pp. 9-14.      (Skim)

* Estrin, Saul.  “The Russian Default,” Business Strategy Review, Vol.9: 3, pp.1-6.

*Bonin, John, Hasan, Iftekhar, and Wachtel, Paul. “Banking in Transition Countries,” Oxford Handbook of Banking, 2010 (Skim)

D.  Prochnik Case

*Harvard Business School Case, Prochnik: Privatization of a Polish Clothing Manufacturer, Case No. 9-394-038. (In course pack)


VI.         Transition:  The Critiques

A.  Stiglitz’s Critique of the Washington Consensus

*Stiglitz, Joseph.  “The Insider:  What I learned at the World Economic Crisis,” The New Republic, April 17 and 24, 2000, pp. 56-60.                 

*Rogoff, Kenneth.  “An Open Letter to Joseph Stiglitz,” Washington: IMF, July 2002.

B.  Is Russia Just a “Regular Country” Now? 

*Shleifer, Andrei and Treisman, Daniel. “A Normal Country,” Journal of Economic Perspectives19: 1, Winter 2005, pp. 151-174.

*Fischer, Stanley and Sahay, Rachna.  “The Transition After Ten Years,” IMF       Working Paper, WP/00/30

*EBRD, What do Russians think about Transition, 2007 

*McKinsey Global Institute. Lean Russia: Sustaining Economic Growth Through Improved Productivity,Moscow: April, 2009, Executive Summary.

*Guriev, Sergei. “Introduction: Symposium on Russia,” Economics of Transition, 18(2), 2010, pp. 245-24

C.  The Rule of Law:  Are the Economies in Transition Moving Toward It? 

*Guriev, Sergei and Rachinsky, Andrea.  “The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism,” Journal of Economic Perspectives  Winter 2005, pp. 131-150. (Skim)


VII.       Transition:  Integration of the Economies in Transition into the World Order 

A.  Membership in the EU for Some, Prospects for Membership for Others

* Bower, Uwe and Turrini, Alessandro. “EU accession: A road to fast-track convergence?” European Commission Economic Papers 2009, (Summary)

B.  FDI in the Economies in Transition

*Garibaldi, Pietro, Mora, Nada, Sahay, Ratna and Zettelmeyer, Jeromin.  “What Moves Capital to Transition Economies?” IMF Staff Papers48, Special Issue, Washington:  IMF, 2001. (Skim)


VIII.       Transition:  Unresolved Issues and Prospects for the Future

A.  When Will the Transition be Over? 

*Campos, Nauro F. and Coricelli, Fabrizio.  “Growth in Transition: What We Know, What We Don’t, and What We Should,”Journal of Economic Literature40: 3, September 2002, pp. 793-836.

*Svejnar, Jan.  “Transition Economies: Performance and Challenges,” Journal of Economic Perspectives16: 1, Winter 2002, pp. 3-28. (Skim)

*Grosfeld, Irena, and Senik, Claudia. “The Emerging Aversion to Inequality.” Economics of Transition, 18(1), 2010, 1-26. (Skim)

*Guriev, Sergei and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina.  “(Un)Happiness in Transition,” Journal of Economic Perspectives,23:2, Spring 2009, pp. 143-168. (Skim)

B.  Impact of Current Financial/Economic Crisis

*OECD, Economic Survey of Russia 2009, Executive Summary, 7/15/09

*EBRD, EBRD and the Financial Crisis, 7/10

C.  Contrasts between the Economies in Transition and China      

*Estrin, Saul, Hanousek, Jan, Kocenda, Evzen and Svejnar, Jan. “The Effects of Privatization and Ownership in Transition Economies,” Journal of Economic Literature, 47:3, 2009, pp. 699-728. (Skim)

D.  Hermitage Fund Case

*HarvardBusiness School Case, The Hermitage Fund: Media and Corporate Governance in Russia, Case No. 9-703-010. (In course pack)


Some Additional References (see others on BB under “External Links”)

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).  EBRD Transition Reports, various years. (Also see BB “Course Docs”)

EBRD.  EBRD Transition Report 2004, 15 Years On.

OECD Economic Surveys (2006).Russian Federation.

OECD Economic Surveys (2009). Russian Federation.

World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). 

Transition:  The First Ten Years:  Analysis and Lessons for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, Washington: 2002.

Hill, Fiona and Gaddy, Clifford.  The Siberian Curse:  How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold.  Washington:  Brookings Institution Press, 2003.

Freeland, Chrystia.  Saleof the Century.  New York:  Random House, Crown Business Press, 2000.

Gaidar, Yegor.  Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia. Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 2007.

Guseva, Alya.  Into The Red: The Birth of the Credit Card Market in Postcommunist Russia.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Hardt, John P. (ed.), Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress.  Russia’s Uncertain Economic Future.  New York:  M. E. Sharpe, 2003.

Klebnikov, Paul.  Godfather of the Kremlin: The Decline of Russia in the Age of Gangster Capitalism.  New York:  Harcourt, Inc., 2000.

Sachs, Jeffrey D. and Pistor, Katharina, (Eds.).  The Rule of Law and Economic Reform in Russia.  Cambridge, MA.: John M. Olin Critical Issues Series, Harvard University Russian Research Center, Westview Press, 1997. 

Johnson, Juliet. A Fistful of Rubles: The Rise and Fall of the Russian Banking System. Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 2000.


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