Founder of the Freiburg School
Walter Eucken was a German economist and anti-Nazi who spent much of his career at the University of Freiburg. He is considered the patriarch of the economic tradition called "Ordoliberalism". He emphasized stable money, tough antitrust policies, and above all the alignment at all times of control and liability. Source:
Alexander Rüstow was not only an economist but also a sociologist, and always thought about the social aspect of Ordoliberalism. He was also the one who, at a colloquium of intellectuals in Paris in 1938, coined the original term of the movement: "Neoliberalism". He wanted to distinguish the new ideas from classical liberalism, or laissez-faire. Source:
Wilhelm Röpke was also in the group of original Ordoliberals. Horrified by the Nazis, he emigrated to Turkey in 1933, and later to Switzerland. But his ideas became influential in the postwar policy of West Germany. Source:
Ludwig von Mises
The largely southern-German Ordoliberals were very close, intellectually and personally, to the so-called Austrian School of liberalism. Its founder was Ludwig von Mises, who also fled the Nazis, first from Austria to Switzerland and in 1940 to the US. Von Mises would later inspire generations of libertarians and economic conservatives. Source:
Friedrich Von Hayek
Evangelist of freedom
Another Viennese-born emigre was Friedrich von Hayek, a student of Ludwig von Mises'. He would be associated with the University of Freiburg (like the Ordoliberals), as well as the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago. There he spawned the Chicago School, which later produced many "freshwater economists": thinkers at universities around the Great Lakes who were anti-Keynesian and believed that rational people made efficient markets. Source:
Coining the "Social Market Economy"
Unlike most of the other Ordoliberals, who were anti-Nazi, Alfred Müller-Armack in 1933 wrote a book in praise of the Nazis. But he later came around to Ordoliberalism and coined the term "social market economy". As an adviser to West Germany's postwar economics minister, Ludwig Erhard, he helped make the social market economy the reigning economic model of Germany to this day. Source:
Daddy of the "economic miracle"
Influenced by the Ordoliberals, Ludwig Erhard was West Germany's first economics minister. Against initial Allied opposition, he freed prices and busted cartels. As the postwar economy boomed during the 1950s, many West Germans gave him credit for this "economic miracle". But when Erhard succeeded Konrad Adenauer as chancellor in 1963, he lost the support of his party and was out by 1966. Source:
John Maynard Keynes
The Ordoliberals never explicitly discussed the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, but the Austrian Liberals and their offspring -- the Chicago and "freshwater" schools -- came to oppose Keynesianism. In spirit, Ordoliberalism, with its emphasis on rules over policy discretion, runs counter to Keynesianism, which demands discretionary government spending in times of depression. Source:
The central banker
As president of Germany's famous Bundesbank (nowadays part of the European Central Bank), Jens Weidmann is one of Germany's many intellectual heirs of Ordoliberalism. He peppers his speeches on the euro crisis and other matters with quotes from Walter Eucken, especially on the need to keep liability and control aligned at all times. Source:
The neo-Keynesian gadfly
Paul Krugman, a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and columnist for the New York Times, is perhaps the leading "saltwater" economist of his generation, and the intellectual nemesis of "freshwater", Austrian and Ordoliberal thinkers. From his neo-Keynesian perspective, German economists and policymakers, especially during the euro crisis, have taken leave of their senses with their calls for austerity. Source:
The Italian Observer
As head of the European Central Bank, and as an Italian living in Frankfurt, Mario Draghi has had to endure Ordoliberal attitudes from the likes of Jens Weidmann. Mr. Draghi's easy-money policy and central-bank purchases of European bonds are credited with saving the euro zone from break-up, but draw German criticism. Impeccably diplomatic, Mr. Draghi has nonetheless mused that German economics is less science and more "moral philosophy". Source:
Ordoliberal or what exactly?
As is her wont, Angela Merkel, in her more than twelve years as German chancellor, has successfully kept everyone guessing where she stands in her economic philosophy. She has visited the Walter Eucken Institute in Freiburg to pay homage to Ordoliberalism. But she also enacted Keynesian stimuli during the Great Recession and thrice bailed out Greece despite the catcalls of Ordoliberal purists. Source: