A material balance is a simple planning device developed (if not originated) early in Soviet planning for the purpose of equating prospective availabilities of a given good and its prospective requirements over the plan period (or at some target date in case of a stock). It occupies a central role in Soviet-type planning. The phrase, a literal rendering of the Russian material’nyi balans, is somewhat inexact and possibly confusing inasmuch as each of the two words has a variety of meanings in English. A more exact term would be ‘sources-and-uses account’ for a flow or ‘balance sheet’ for a stock. As such, material balances have counterparts in planning and management the world over.
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