The influence of Ordoliberalism on the development of European competition policy

May 13, 2019

The latest publication in our research paper series analyses the annual reports of the German Council of Economic Experts (GCEE) in order to determine the extent to which post-war German economists have been influenced by Ordoliberalism, a German school of economic thought that originated in the 1930s. The GCEE, publicly known as the ‘Five Wise Men’, was set up by Ludwig Erhard in 1963 as an independent institution that was expected to inform and educate the public. Consisting of five economics professors, the GCEE examines the development of the economy and publishes a report every year in November, which implies that intellectual changes over time can be coherently studied. The paper’s analysis is based on the 54 annual reports published between 1964-2017, that is 21,936 pages in total. Using a computational text mining technique called Topic Modelling, three peaks in ordoliberal thought are identified: during the early 1970s, caused by concerns about price stability, during the 1990s , when ‘ordo’ reforms were used in an effort to create ‘complete competition’ in the former GDR, and during the Eurozone crisis from 2010 onwards in the form of rule-based regulatory proposals. Overall, the results suggest that ordoliberal thought was not consistently present in German economic policy advice, but that certain ordoliberal ideas have been reactivated during times of domestic crisis that called for guidance by easily accessible narratives.

Anselm Küster’s (MPIeR) paper, written in English, is related to his current research project on the influence of Ordoliberalism on the development of European competition policy and is now available in Open Access on SSRN.

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