Thursday, December 20th, 2007
ISP: Changers – From Steppe to Market, and Beyond: Connecting the Pastoral Economy of Livestock Products
Alright, so I guess treat this as a draft, even though I’ve handed it in already for credit, it’s not really complete. But there’s still some good stuff in there. Here is a link to a pdf version which preserves all my sexilicious typographic manipulations, I’ll post one in HTML as well for online viewing, with some typography preserved.
Changers are traders who emerged during the traumatic early 90’s as an organic answer to Mongolia’s problems of economic disconnectedness, revealed by the collapse of the regional socialist framework. Today, despite more than fifteen
years of transition, they remain a vital piece of the Mongolian economy. Connecting herders to factories and to Chinese merchants, they allow for goods to navigate Mongolia’s notoriously sparse landscape economically.
Focusing on one sub-group: those who trade the livestock by-products skins, hides, wool and cashmere, this paper aims to understand them as a phenomenon: how and why did they emerge? What is their role in today’s Mongolia? How has changing evolved, and will its evolution continue? Is there a place for changing in post-transition Mongolia?
Despite evidence of changing’s transitional “ad-hoc” nature, the institution seems to evolving in step with the economy as a whole. The further up the supply chain one looks, and the more volume a changer processes, the more formal their operations. For now, the vast majority still operates firmly in the informal realm, with little official contracts or business agreements, but the future is far from clear. Changers seem to appreciate the benefits of evolving along with the economy; without such evolution the place for these traders in the future is uncertain.
The paper closes with a look to the future: as factories begin to search for formal contractual arrangements to ensure predictable supply, changing becomes a target for formalization and incorporation. What does this mean for the future of these notoriously individualistic and unorganized traders? Will they cease to be changers?