Nikolai Khristianovich Bunge (Russian: Никола́й Христиа́нович Бу́нге; 23 November [O.S. 11 November] 1823, Kiev – 15 June [O.S. 3 June] 1895, Tsarskoye Selo) was the preeminent architect of Russian capitalism under Alexander III. He was a distinguished economist, statesman, and academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.
Bunge was born to a German ethnic family in Kiev and was second generation of Kievan. His grandfather moved from the East Prussia to Kiev sometime in the 18th century. Bunge was a professor of the Kiev University, of which he served as a dean between 1859 and 1880, when he was summoned to St. Petersburg to become a deputy minister and then (since 1881) Minister of Finance. Five years later, he became Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, the highest position in the civil administration of the Russian Empire.
Bunge undertook a number of reforms with the aim of modernizing the Russian economy. He consolidated the banking system of the Empire and founded the Peasants' Land Bank (1883) which helped peasants to purchase land. He introduced important tax law changes which seriously reduced the tax burden of the peasantry. The head tax was abolished and the inheritance tax was introduced.
Bunge's policies towards the Russian industries were extremely protectionist. He promoted the construction of railways and spearheaded the first Russian labour laws, some of them aimed at reducing child labour.
However, in 1887 under pressure of conservative deputies, accusing him of incompetence and incapability to overcome the budgeted deficit, N.K. Bunge resigned.