Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Ordoliberalism, Ludwig Erhard, and West Germany’s “Economic Basic Law”

Volker R. Berghahn



Germany’s Social Market Economy has been in the limelight recently as a variant of modern capitalism, different from the Anglo-American model. Starting from this debate this article goes back to the ideas of the Freiburg School of Economics in the immediate post-1945 period whose representatives, Walter Eucken prominently among them, emerged from the Nazi period with concepts of how to organise a modern industrial economy that they called ‘ordoliberal’. Their writings are then connected, but also contrasted, with the policies of Ludwig Erhard, West Germany’s first economics minister, who, being under many domestic and foreign pressures, adapted the principles of economic management of the Freiburg School to the realities of the 1950s and 1960s. The article is written in the hope of stimulating debate on Germany’s Social Market Economy, past and present.

Keywords: Americanisation, decartelisation, Ludwig Erhard, Walter Eucken, ordoliberalism, social market economy


Bibliography: Berghahn, Volker R.: Ordoliberalism, Ludwig Erhard, and West Germany’s “Economic Basic Law”, ERIS, 3-2015, pp. 37-47.


Full Text: PDF