Zakaj se Evropa muči že šesto in ji nikakor ne uspe iziti iz krize? Zakaj države v nesmiselni ihti režejo državne izdatke, da bi zmanjšale deficite, medtem pa nezaposlenost in dolg rasteta? Odgovor se skriva v ordoliberalizmu – mešanici klasičnega liberalizma in strogih pravil s strani države – ki predstavlja ideološki okvir politike varčevanja za vsako ceno. Ordoliberalizem je super filozofija – kadar je povpraševanja dovolj in kadar ga zganja samo ena ali nekaj držav. Problem pa nastane, kadar postane ideologija, ki zahteva, da se teh pravil za vsako ceno držijo vsi. In to v recesiji. Denimo, če v času recesije vsi varčujejo, ni dovolj povpraševanja. Dobimo to, kar poznamo kot “paradox of thrift“. Nekaj, kar je optimalna strategija za posameznika (podjetje), je smrtonosno za državo kot celoto. Posledično namreč gospodarska aktivnost še bolj pade, brezposelnost raste in dolg se veča. Bolj kot se države držijo pravil in bolj kot varčujeo, višja je brezposelnost in večji je dolg. Ordoliberalna ideologija varčevanja v času krize je self-defeating. Je v diametralnem nasprotju z učbeniki makroekonomije in zato daje tako katastrofalne rezultate.
Zelo dober opis razvoja ordoliberalizma in njegovih implikacij za današnji čas preberite v Mark Blyth “Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century“. Spodaj pa je kratek šnelkurz in diskusija v The Economistu, kako bi se Evropa lahko potegnila iz krize, če bi le prekršila (v tej situaciji) nesmiselna pravila ordoliberalizma.
Such a stance leaves economists outside Germany bewildered. Why are Germans sceptical of attempts by the ECB to pep up Europe’s economies? Why do they insist on fiscal austerity in countries where demand is collapsing? And why are they obsessed with rules for their own sake, as opposed to their practical effects?
The answers are rooted in German intellectual history, especially in ordoliberalism. This is an offshoot of classical liberalism that sprouted during the Nazi period, when dissidents around Walter Eucken, an economist in Freiburg, dreamed of a better economic system. They reacted against the planned economies of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But they also rejected both pure laissez-faire and Keynesian demand management.
The result was a school that was close both in personal contacts and in its content to the Austrian school associated with Friedrich Hayek. The two shared a view that deficit spending for demand management was foolish. Ordoliberalism differed, however, in believing that capitalism requires a strong government to create a framework of rules which provide the order (ordo in Latin) that free markets need to function most efficiently.
Then, as the euro crisis unfolded, says Mr Bofinger, he was “permanently confronted with ordoliberal positions”. Economists outside Germany agree that microeconomic reforms were necessary. But the Germans almost uniquely argued for the anti-Keynesian concept of spending cuts amid declining demand. In Germany itself, a “debt brake” has been written into the constitution, requiring states to balance their budgets by 2020 and limiting federal borrowing (Germany’s budget is now balanced at what is touted as the “black zero”). Germany has foisted similar rules on other EU countries through the 2012 fiscal-compact treaty, partly to limit its own liability to them.
Even more characteristic is the German attitude to rules. To some extent, this reflects the country’s culture. But it also has an ordoliberal origin. Jens Weidmann, president of the German Bundesbank, often quotes Walter Eucken, especially in passages where Haftung “must go hand in hand with” control. This gives German economists an argument for opposing Eurobonds and other forms of debt mutualisation and stressing the euro zone’s no-bail-out rule. Similarly, calls for “solidarity” (or fiscal transfers) run straight into concerns over moral hazard. Mario Monti, a former Italian prime minister, likes to claim that in Germany economics is seen as a branch of moral philosophy.
Critics find the ordoliberal tradition outdated or misguided. “Ordoliberalism is not very practical, it’s religion,” says Michael Burda, an American economist at Berlin’s Humboldt University. Most German economists simply assume, for example, that the minimum wage introduced in Germany will lead to job losses, even though empirical evidence in America and Britain suggests this need not be so.
Ordoliberalism’s biggest flaw, says Mr Burda, lies in “failing to do the aggregation step”. It is at heart a microeconomic model that disavows macroeconomic policy because it treats countries, or even an entire currency zone, as if they were individual households. It makes sense for individuals to save when they are in debt, as the proverbial Swabian housewife does in Germany. But if all individuals cut spending at the same time, the result can be a shortfall in demand that negates the benefits of microeconomic reforms. Once in a while it is better to break rules than all go under in law-abiding misery. Yet that is not how things are seen in Berlin or Frankfurt.
Vir: The Economist