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Freedom with ResponsibilityThe Social Market Economy in Germany 1918-1963$
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A. J. Nicholls

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208525.001.0001

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Liberal Economics in Crisis: The Weimar Period

Liberal Economics in Crisis: The Weimar Period

(p.15) 1 Liberal Economics in Crisis: The Weimar Period
Freedom with Responsibility

A. J. Nicholls

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an account of liberal economics in Germany during the Weimar period. It presents a history of the economic activity of Germany from the late 15th and 16th century to the present century. In the first half of the 19th century, German liberals hoped that unification would lead to the abolition of restrictions on industry and trade. The free-market mechanism had no sense of liberation when the new currency was introduced, on the contrary, stabilization brought drastic cuts in public spending and large-scale unemployment. Germany's financial and economic problems came to the fore after the humiliating terms imposed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty in June 1919, which as a result lead to protectionist trade-policies to be temporarily abandoned when the treaty forbade Germany to erect tariff barriers against her former enemies. German economic depression after 1929 attacked all forms of government intervention, including unemployment benefit. Despite these unfortunate political circumstances, there were many economists who defended the old canons of laissez-faireliberalism.

Keywords:   liberal economics, free-market mechanism, Versailles Treaty, protectionist trade-policies, laissez-faire liberalism, tariff barriers, unemployment benefit, industry, trade restrictions

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