|Ludwig Erhard, the greatest economic policymaker ever.|
I would love to see an Austrian school economist infiltrate and get this position [in the Greek economic advisory council] and go full Ludwig Erhard.A commenter responded to this with:
That person would be made into Moussaka by week's end.Not if the policymaker was as skilled as Erhard.
I consider Erhard the greatest economic policymaker ever. Not because he was a great economic theoretician. He wasn't a theoretician. And if you compare him against Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard, he wasn't as consistent a free market advocate as they were. But he was principled, a strong free market advocate and always stuck to his principles.
Erhard is most well known for going up against Allied occupation leadership after World War 2 and lifting price controls---without authorization from anyone.
That move launched the German economic miracle and would have been enough of an accomplishment to consider him a great economic policymaker.
But Erhard was much more than a one move economist. Throughout his decades-long policy career, he stuck to his generally free market principles, even when it involved great personal risk.
When the Nazis were in power, he never joined the Nazi Party but when regional Nazi leaders sought economic advice, he provided his principled advice. But it was always about principle. He even contributed a chapter to a book that was a barely concealed critique of Nazi interventionist economic policy.
Most remarkable, he was close to the inner circle that plotted the July 1944 assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler.
One of his friends, Carl Goerdeler was a key plotter. Goerdeler had asked Erhard to write out what type of economic plan should be implemented after the assassination.
When the attempt failed, Erhard rushed home and destroyed incriminating papers, including all his correspondence with Goerdeler, and then hid out in a small village.
But despite Hitler ordering the death of near 5,000 people, i.e., anyone close to the plotters, Erhard somehow was able to emerge from hiding by the end of the year and continue his free market advocacy.
That's skill and stunning principle.
Erhard had a long career, after the war years and the American occupation years, serving in various economic advisory positions--often battling both the left and right interventionists at the same time.
He also went up against French President Charles DeGaulle on economic and foreign policy.
He didn't always win and sometimes compromised when he would get a good benefit but he was always advocating for free markets.
He was no modern day beltarian who found some technical reason to support an intervention. He was always for free markets and gave many, many speeches and radio interviews to support his views.
Somehow, he ended up his career as German chancellor. But he was no politician and didn't play political intrigue. He was eventually forced out. His strength was principled free market economic advocacy, not political leadership.
So no, a Ludwig Erhard-type would not end up moussaka in a week. The real problem is there aren't many Ludwig Erhard-types around.
He should be a role model for economic policymakers.
Alfred C. Mierzejweski has written a very important biography, Ludwig Erhard, A Biography. The book should be read by every economic policymaker and wannabe policymaker, perhaps it will provide the courage for some to be at least a tenth of the principled man that Erhard was and also provide lessons on how to navigate the policy landmines and stay relevant while being principled.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher.
Sources: Ludwig Erhard, A Biography and PBS