Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 77: Walter Eucken (1891–1950)
Walter Eucken, born in Jena on 17 January 1891, was the son of the philosopher and Nobel laureate Rudolf Eucken. He studied economics and obtained a doctoral degree in Bonn in 1913. After World War I, he followed his professor, Hermann Schumacher, to Berlin. He was appointed to a professorship in Tübingen in 1925, and from 1927 to 1950 he taught in Freiburg. After the Nazi seizure of power, a group formed in Freiburg that discussed questions of ethics and resistance from a Christian perspective. Eventually the circle around Eucken developed plans for a restructuring of the economy and the legal system. Some of them were arrested after the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler in 1944; Eucken was among those who were interrogated. Members of the circle were later among the close advisers to Ludwig Erhard, the first West German economics minister and the “father” of the social market economy. While giving lectures as a visiting professor in London, Eucken died of a heart attack on 20 March 1950. Eucken’s early studies were still written in the descriptive style of the historical school. However, when he wrote his Kritische Betrachtungen zum deutschen Geldproblem, published in 1923 at the time of the Great Inflation, he was already discussing the quantity theory of money and the purchasing power parity of money espoused by the Swedish economist Gustav Cassel. He opposed Georg F. Knapp, whose work Staatliche Theorie des Geldes (1905) had ignored the risks coming from governments printing money. By expressing...
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