Seventy years ago this month, a small group of economists and legal scholars helped bring about what’s now widely known as the “German economic miracle,” writes Acton research director Samuel Gregg. This Great Reform wasn’t a matter of luck, but a rare instance of free market intellectuals’ playing a decisive role in liberating an economy from decades of interventionist and collectivist policies.
What makes their achievement even more extraordinary is that their policy prescriptions—a root-and-branch currency reform, the abolition of price-controls, widespread economic deregulation, and major reductions in marginal taxes—were implemented in the face of opposition from not just the entire German Left but many in the Christian Democratic movement that would rule West Germany without interruption from 1949 until 1969.
So the miracle wasn’t only the Great Reform’s spectacular economic results. It was that a small group of free market thinkers and an even smaller group of policymakers took on the German political, economic, and academic establishment.