Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Between Liberalism and Nationalism. Bernhard Benning and the Economics Department of the Reichs-Kredit-Gesellschaft under National Socialism.

Greitens Jan, DHBW

The Reichs-Kredit-Gesellschaft was the only major bank owned by the German Reich during the National Socialist era. The Economics Department was headed by B. Benning since 1933, a student of the liberal A. Weber and on his recommendation. In 1928, Benning was at the Statistische Reichsamt and was influenced by the empirical work of the “Instituts für Konjunkturforschung”. In line with Weber's theory of overinvestment to explain business cycles, he produced the first systematic investment statistics, and thus an empirical test of Weber´s theory. His Economics Department gained significant importance during National Socialism. Benning criticized monetary war financing and was therefore later regarded as an opponent. After 1950 he became a board member at Bank deutscher Länder, later Bundesbank, until 1972. With his focus on safeguarding the currency, he was close to V. Muthesius in the 1950s, who led a journalistic campaign for an independent and stability-oriented Bundesbank.

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Keywords: Liberalism, National Socialism, money, inflation, business cycles