The superiority of Germany’s so-called “social market economy” is an article of faith for virtually all of Germany’s major political parties (with the possible exception of the “post-communist” Left Party, which would prefer an outright socialist one). The expression is commonly associated with Ludwig Erhard, post-War West Germany’s first economics minister under the Christian Democratic Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. In current usage, the expression strongly connotes a rejection of a “pure” market economy or “unbridled” capitalism, such as the advocates of the “social market” model presumed to exist in the United States and other “Anglo-Saxon” countries.
In a series of seminars held recently in Berlin, Ankara, and Abu Dhabi, Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation examined the “commonalities” between the social market economy and “Islamic economics.” As reported in the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the participants:
came to the conclusion that [the commonalities] were great and that, for example, the recent financial crisis would not have broken out if today’s economic order had been oriented to the common values shared by both. The politicians present, including those from the [German] Bundestag, did not disagree.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation is a publicly funded “political foundation” affiliated with the Christian Democratic Union, the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Chancellor Merkel sits on the executive board of the foundation.
The report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is written by the paper’s Abu Dhabi-based correspondent Rainer Hermann. Alluding to Walter Eucken, one of the theoretical fathers of the “social market economy,” Hermann goes so far as to suggest that Islamic scholarship in the person of Ibn Khaldun anticipated the “social market” model by some six centuries. “Already in the 14th century, Ibn Khaldun had recognized the elements and institutions developed by the economists around Walter Eucken, even if he used a different vocabulary.”
One of the participants in the Abu Dhabi event was Holger Haibach, a Christian Democratic member of the Bundestag. According to a summary of the proceedings published by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Haibach alluded to the strong economic growth currently being experienced in both Germany and the United Arab Emirates, in order to suggest the economic systems of the two countries must be “following the right approaches.” It should be noted that while Germany is experiencing strong growth, this is decidedly not the case for most of its euro-zone partners, some of which, of course, are presently struggling to stave off bankruptcy. Per Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union, all European Union member states are committed to the “social market economy.”