Once described as a “German oddity”†, Ordoliberalism was one of a number of new liberalisms that emerged from the political maelstrom of the interwar period. But, unlike the other neoliberal splinters, Ordoliberalism – founded at the University of Freiburg by economist Walter Eucken and jurist Franz Böhm – was quickly tested in the real world.
The West Germany rebuilt out of the ashes of war was founded on its principles: rules-based economics, independent agencies protected from politics and the state as arbiter. The country's recovery and successful reunification were a testament to Ordoliberalism’s effectiveness but, as the European Community became a union and created the euro, its other members were keener to import the success than the rules. When crisis struck from 2008, the EU's architecture was severely stress-tested and remains under strain in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Is the long EU political crisis due to Ordoliberalism or due to its non-implementation? Can and should Ordoliberalism adapt and survive? These are some of the questions addressed in Ordoliberalism and European Economic Policy: Between Realpolitik and Economic Utopia (Routledge paperback, 2021) co-edited by Malte Dold and Tim Krieger. Malte Dold is a Freiburg university graduate who now an assistant professor of economics at Pomona College in California, and Tim Krieger is Freiburg's Wilfried Guth professor of constitutional political economy.
*As their book recommendations, Tim Krieger chose Conservative Liberalism, Ordo-liberalism, and the State: Disciplining Democracy and the Market by Kenneth Dyson (OUP Oxford, 2021) and Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought by Robert S. Taylor (OUP Oxford, 2017); and Malte Dold chose The Narrow Corridor: How Nations Struggle for Liberty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (Penguin, 2020) and The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen (Penguin, 2010).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors (Energy Aspects).
†Ordoliberalism: A German oddity? ed. Thorsten Beck and Hans-Helmut Kotz (CEPR Press 2017).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.