Political Events and Economic Ideas
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Political Events and Economic Ideas

Edited by Ingo Barens, Volker Caspari and Bertram Schefold

The influence of political developments on the evolution of economic thought is the main theme behind this book. As the authors reveal throughout the book, history has shown many times that political events can trigger the formulation of new economic conceptions that in turn influence the future economic development of a country.
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Both world wars had a deep effect on intellectual developments, possibly deeper in Germany than in the victor countries, but these effects were very different in each case.1 It is often said now, after its end, that the First World War was the great calamity of the twentieth century, the Second World War only being a catastrophic sequel. It was the truly tragic event because good and evil, right and wrong, were not as easily discernible in 1914 as in 1939. The founding of the Federal Republic of Germany required a completely new beginning, while the changeover from the constitutional monarchy to the parliamentary democracy after the German Revolution allowed us to preserve many academic traditions. In fact, the 1920s was one of the most glorious periods of German research and university life, not only in the sciences (e.g. quantum mechanics), but also in the humanities where, in philology, history of art, psychology and related disciplines, many young people started their careers who would later, as emigrants, become famous the world over. This was true also of economics (Scherer, 2000), although this discipline suffered perhaps most during the transition and its achievments are comparatively little known. The predominance of the Historical School ended, but researches along historicist, institutional and evolutionary lines continued. The ideas of Austrian, Marshallian and Walrasian economics spread; there was much interest in the nascent theory of imperfect competition. The German pre-Keynesians helped to advance international research in business cycles, but their best...

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