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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The only country in the world today with a pure command economy is North Korea.  Even that country has some amount of a black market that is not controlled by the government, but the government is much more in control of its economy than any other government in the world. 

In a pure command economy, the government makes all of the economic decisions.  The government decides what products are to be made.  It decides how they will be made.  It decides who will get to use the products.  The government owns all of the “means of production,” that is, the government owns all the factories and other places of work.  There are no private companies and people do not have economic freedom.

Every country in the world has some aspects of a command economy.  In the US, for example, the government provides public schools instead of leaving schooling to the private sector.  However, market forces are much more powerful than the government in most countries’ economies.  Even China, which has an authoritarian government and is officially communist, has many private companies and allows most of its state-owned companies to run on market principles.  The countries in the world today whose economies are closest to being pure command economies are probably North Korea, Belarus, and Cuba. 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A command economy is one in which every facet is closely managed or owned by the government. In such an economy, the government tells manufacturers what to produce and retailers what to sell. It sets wages and prices. The opposite of this is a free market economy, in which economic activity is completely independent of the government. Neither pure command nor pure free market economies actually exist in reality; most economies have some mixture of the two modes of operation.

For example, in free market economies, most governments regulate production of military equipment and other materials deemed strategically important and may subsidize certain businesses and discourage others as part of an industrial policy.

The country that is perhaps closest to a pure command economy in the twenty-first century is North Korea, although there is a considerable black market which operates as a free market economy. Countries like China, Vietnam, and Russia mix elements of command and free market economies with many state owned enterprises and links between business and government but they also have substantial private sectors. The blend seen in China is termed "state capitalism."