Peter Bofinger

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Peter Bofinger (2005)

Peter Bofinger (born September 18, 1954 in Pforzheim ) is a German economist and professor of economics at the University of Würzburg . From March 2004 to the end of February 2019, he was a member of the Expert Council for the assessment of macroeconomic developments .


Peter Bofinger studied from 1973 to graduation as a graduate economist at Saarland University in Saarbrücken . From 1978 to 1981 he was a research associate on the staff of the "Wirtschaftsweise". He received his doctorate in 1984 with a thesis on “Currency competition. A systematic presentation and critical appreciation of Friedrich August von Hayek's plans for a fundamental reorganization of our currency system ” . From 1985 to 1990 he was a research associate and from 1987 a senior member of the Bundesbank in the economics department of the state central bank in Baden-Württemberg.

In 1990 he completed his habilitation at the Faculty of Law and Economics at Saarbrücken University. In 1990 and 1991 he was the C3 professor for economics at the University of Kaiserslautern and in 1991 the C4 professor for economic policy at the University of Konstanz . In 1991 and 1992 he represented the C4 Chair for Economics, Money and Economic Relations at the University of Würzburg , and in August 1992 he took over the full professorship. From October 2003 he was First Vice President of the University of Würzburg for one year. In 2003 his textbook Grundzüge der Volkswirtschaftslehre was published .

In March 2004, on the recommendation of the trade unions , he was appointed to the Expert Council to assess macroeconomic development, the so-called five economic modes . He completed his third term of office at the end of February 2019 and was the longest-serving member in the history of the Expert Council, ahead of Olaf Sievert .

In 2018 he was listed in the top 10 of the most influential economists in German-speaking countries . In 2016 he received the Kurt Rothschild Prize for Business Journalism from the Karl Renner Institute .


Economic policy positions

Bofinger is regarded as a leading representative of a demand-oriented economic policy in Germany and thus represents a minority position in this country. In interviews, books and statements - especially in the Advisory Council - he emphasizes that, especially in Germany, the demand side is neglected and the symbiosis between demand and supply is not taken into account. Most German economists tended to emphasize the supply side , while many winners of the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for economics (e.g. Paul Krugman , Joseph Stiglitz , George Akerlof ) like Bofinger emphasize the demand side. Bofinger is an avowed critic of the German ordoliberalism shaped by Walter Eucken , which he considers outdated and theoretically insufficiently founded. Walter Eucken's rejection of the “full employment policy” was already refuted by reality during his lifetime.

As a result, Bofinger was also one of the few German economists who spoke out against the core demands of Agenda 2010 and the Hartz reforms , as this would result in a further weakening of domestic demand. In this context he warned of the danger of deflation and its possible long-term consequences, similar to the one in Japan from 1992 onwards .

Bofinger takes the position that the state in Germany finances its social systems too little through direct and indirect taxes and instead too one-sidedly through non-wage labor costs , which makes the production factor labor disproportionately more expensive. He attributes part of the particularly high unemployment of low-skilled workers in Germany to the high tax burden on work. To remedy the problem, he proposes structural reforms such as the introduction of a negative income tax and a reduction in non-wage labor costs, financed by higher taxes. Furthermore, he advocates the so-called flat rate per capita in order to limit non-wage costs in the health system .

Bofinger is an opponent of models of an unconditional basic income . In 2006, for example, he said that he did not believe that this would do the people affected a favor. In addition, you already have a similar basic income in unemployment benefit II , which every unemployed person receives, provided that he is needy. His other point of criticism was that in the model of an unconditional basic income, a large number of rich people and people like him who did not need it received money.

Bofinger has a differentiated opinion on the introduction of a nationwide minimum wage . He initially suggested an amount of 6 euros for Germany, which could then be slowly adjusted upwards, with the effects on employment being examined after each increase, following the example of the United Kingdom . In general, he sees the problem of asymmetrical information . According to this, the employees, especially in the low-wage sector, are not sufficiently informed about how productive they are, and therefore accept jobs that are significantly below their productivity . This can only be prevented through collective agreements and, if necessary, minimum wages.

Wage policy

In terms of wage policy , Bofinger advocates a productivity- oriented wage development , which is composed of the inflation target line of the central bank and the increase in labor productivity. He rejects the position taken by many economists that wage increases below productivity growth are employment-friendly and suitable for reducing unemployment. He argues that it is certainly rational for the individual entrepreneur to lower wages in a weak economic phase or in a bad order situation in order to keep profits stable. At the macroeconomic level, however, this leads to a collapse in the demand for goods, as the disposable income of private households is falling. The order situation is primarily decisive for investments. With a low capacity utilization, even the best supply conditions (i.e. low wages, low corporate taxes) did not lead to a growth in investments, especially in expansion investments . He also refers to the propensity to save among private households compared to entrepreneurial households. The former is significantly below the savings rate of companies. Therefore, wage increases below productivity growth have a lowering effect on overall economic demand, since entrepreneurial households consume less of the additional income.

For this reason, Bofinger does not join the criticism of numerous economists of the collective wage agreement in Germany, which is found to be too rigid . This ensures that wages will not be cut across the board in times of economic downturn, which would further destabilize economic development.

Monetary and currency policy

In terms of monetary policy , he criticizes the behavior of the ECB and its predecessor in Germany, the Bundesbank, which he believes is too restrictive . He sees the primary focus of the ECB on price stability with the consequent neglect of promoting growth and employment as a failure. He praised the expansionary policy of the American Federal Reserve , to which part of the higher growth dynamic in the United States in the recent past can be attributed. In an interview with the daily newspaper Die Welt in August 2007, however, he described American monetary policy in 2004 and 2005 as far too expansionary and key interest rates too low. This was a crucial mistake and caused the financial crisis from 2007 onwards . "If the American central bank had made a more solid policy from the outset, such as the European Central Bank, a lot could have been avoided," said Bofinger.

In addition to a restrictive monetary policy, he criticized the monetary policy of the ECB, which in a negative attitude of the ECB to intervene in the foreign exchange market expresses (interventions have been carried out only once by the ECB). In an interview with Der Spiegel in November 2007, against the background of a rapidly rising euro- dollar exchange rate, he was of the opinion that Western European countries were making too little use of this option and neglecting national interests. In Bofinger's opinion, a further rise in the euro would trigger new debates about relocations.

Bofinger called for the abolition of cash.

Fiscal policy

In fiscal policy , Bofinger strongly advocates an anti-cyclical budget policy . He criticizes the regulations in the European Economic and Monetary Union to limit the state's borrowing as being too inflexible. The benchmarks of the Stability and Growth Pact - the new debt limit of 3% and the debt ratio of 60% of the gross domestic product - are arbitrary because they were not selected according to scientific criteria, but rather derived from the debt levels of the EU countries in 1990. Bofinger is in favor of limiting national debt in the long term , as this may a. is also associated with negative redistributive effects . However, the EU Treaty does not allow the countercyclical fiscal policy it advocates, which is expressed in an appropriate increase in the structural deficit in phases of economic weakness. If the rules of monetary union are to be complied with, regular budget surpluses of considerable amounts would have to be achieved.

He cites the United States and the United Kingdom as models for the success of countercyclical fiscal policy . For example, in the years 2001 to 2003 after the collapse of the dot-com bubble, in a concerted action, they massively expanded the structural deficit and at the same time drastically reduced the key interest rate , which led to sustained high economic growth . In this context, he emphasizes the importance of coordinating monetary and fiscal policy, which should not act against one another (as was often the case in continental Europe ).

Tax and duty burden

In the debate on lowering the tax burden, he criticizes the fact that the success of a low government quota cannot be empirically proven. In Europe, he names countries with historically high levels of government ( Sweden , Denmark , Finland , France ), which in some cases have shown very dynamic economic development, and countries with low levels of government with the opposite finding (such as Germany, Switzerland and Japan ). Public spending in education and research as well as the infrastructure , which are crucial for long-term economic prosperity, cannot be financed without a high state quota. He also advocates greater financing of social systems through taxes while reducing social security contributions (see above).

State industrial policy

In August 2017, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published a guest article by Bofinger. A week later, the other four members of the Advisory Council criticized the theses he had expressed there and confirmed that he knew nothing about economics .

Works (selection)

  • Fundamentals of Economics: An Introduction to the Science of Markets , 5th, updated edition. Pearson Studium, Munich 2019. ISBN 978-3-86894-368-9
  • Monetary and fiscal policy interaction in the Euro area with different assumptions on the Phillips curve . Center for Globalization and Europeanization of the Economy. Göttingen 2004.
  • We are better than we think we are - prosperity for everyone . Pearson Studium, Munich 2004. ISBN 3-8273-7138-4
  • Sustainable financial policy Prerequisites for the federal states to have adequate financial resources. Berlin science publisher . Berlin 2008, 1st edition, ISBN 978-3-8305-1575-3 .
  • Can the market still be saved? Why we need a strong state now . Econ Verlag , Berlin 2009. ISBN 978-3-548-37341-6
  • Back to the D-Mark? Droemer Knaur , Munich 2012. ISBN 978-3-426-27613-6
  • Praise the minority. There is too much conformity and too few minority votes in the Council of the Five Economic Wise Men, in: FAS No. 35, September 3, 2017, p. 22.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Patrick Bernau : Farewell to economic practices: "We think we are too great" . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed February 25, 2019]).
  2. FAZ: FAZ Ranking List of Economists: Germany's Most Influential Economists 2018 . ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed February 22, 2019]).
  3. Gunnar Bartsch: A price as encouragement to keep going. Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, press release of November 22, 2016 from the Informationsdienst Wissenschaft (, accessed on November 22, 2016.
  4. Big heads for big questions, in: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 5/11
  5. ^ Founding members. Citizens' Movement Finanzwende, archived from the original on July 6, 2020 ; accessed on July 6, 2020 .
  6. Jürgen Kalb: Renaissance of Economic Policy? - A teaching model on economic policy . In: Teaching politics and economics , VS-Verlag (2006), p. 276
  7. The Parliament, Issue No. 27 of June 29, 2009
  8. ^ Ordoliberalism: The long shadow of Walter Eucken. June 24, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2016 .
  9. ^ Albrecht Müller, Wolfgang Lieb Reflecting on Germany - The Critical Yearbook 2011/2012 , pp. 7-10
  10. ^ Peter Bofinger & Eric Mayer Monetary and Fiscal Policy Interaction in the Euro Area with Different Assumptions on the Phillips Curve
  11. "Freeloaders do not endanger the system" , website of Manager Magazin from March 29, 2010
  12. ^ Peter Bofinger and Timo Wollmershäuser Managed Floating as a Monetary Policy Strategy
  13. ^ Peter Bofinger and Stefan Ried A New Framework for Fiscal Policy Consolidation in Europe
  14. Viktoria Unterreiner: "We are experiencing the end of a long and strong global upswing". In: . August 17, 2007, accessed December 7, 2015 .
  15. Peter Bofinger and Christina Gerberding (2012) EMS: a Model for a World Monetary Order? Intereconomics 23, pp. 212-219
  16. Influence for central banks: Economist Bofinger calls for the end of cash . In: Spiegel Online . October 6, 2019 ( [accessed October 30, 2019]).
  17. Dare to be more centralized! In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. August 12, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2018 .
  18. "That shouldn't happen to a professional". In: August 19, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2018 .