CES: European Economic Policy Forum — Workshop: Incompatible Economic Philosophies: German Ordo vs. U.S. Pragmatism


Monday, April 24, 2017, 2:00pm to 6:00pm


Adolphus Busch Hall, Goldman Room,  27 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA

See more on the CES website.


German economics appears to be a different land. Some critics have even suggested German policymakers and academics live in a “parallel intellectual universe”. The conflict with U.S. economic policy pragmatism is a hardy perennial in international debates – long before the most recent conflicts in G20 (about the persistent German current account surpluses). In fact, discussions about Germany’s role in international economic policy coordination predate the G5 meetings of the mid-1970s.

A distinctive trait of German economics is its reference to Ordo, an economic policy approach developed by Walter Eucken (and colleagues) of Freiburg University in radical opposition to the totalitarian Nazi economics. Of chief concern was the guarantee of individual freedom. Competitive markets were seen as most effective in reining in private market power. In modern terms, the focus was on microeconomic issues. Macro (stabilization) policies, other than the stabilization of the value of money, were seen of not much avail, if at all. (This is obviously very close to policy ineffectiveness proposition also heard in other economic circles.) The Ordo school was highly influential and the German Wirtschaftswunder was seen as corroborating the analysis. Later, Ordo philosophy had a decisive impact on the institutional design of Europe’s monetary union (rule orientation, Stability and Growth Pact, Fiscal Compact etc.).

Workshop Format:

This workshop will address these issues and search for common ground. Each session starts with a 20-minute impulse, followed by two 10-minute remarks by discussants and then opens to discussion with the participants.

See the schedule here

  • Richard Cooper – Maurits C. Boas Professor of International Economics, Department of Economics, Harvard University
  • Lars Feld – Chair for Economic Policy and Constitutional Economics, Freiburg University; Member of the Advisory Council, German Council of Economic Experts; President, Walter Eucken Institut
  • Jeffrey Frankel – James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Benjamin Friedman – William Joseph Maier Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University
  • Harold James – Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies; Professor of History and International Affairs, Princeton University; Director, Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, Princeton University
  • Oliver Landmann – Chair of Economic Theory, Freiburg University
  • Charles Maier – Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University; Resident Faculty , CES, Harvard University
  • Christopher Smart – Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School; Special Assistant to the US President for International Economics (2013-2015); Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Europe and Eurasia (2009-2013)
  • Philipp Steinberg – Head of Economic Policy, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany
  • Jeromin Zettelmeyer – Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Chairs Hans-Helmut Kotz – Visiting Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Co-Chair, European Economic Policy Forum, CES, Harvard University; Resident Faculty, CES, Harvard University; Professor of Economics, Freiburg University; Member of the Executive Board (2002-2010), Deutsche Bundesbank and Dante Roscini – Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School; Co-Chair, European Economic Policy Forum, CES, Harvard University; Faculty Associate, CES, Harvard University