Seminar: What’s The Deal With Deutschland? The European Consequences of Changes in Germany’s Political Economy

by Henry Farrell on January 18, 2011

Over the next few days, Crooked Timber will be publishing a seminar, based on a workshop organized by Abe Newman and Mark Blyth at Georgetown University some weeks ago. The workshop was intended to get a bunch of political economy/political science people with an interest in Germany together, to figure out what was driving Germany’s economic policy. This is a topic which has received a lot of attention from e.g. US commentators such as “Paul Krugman”:, and for good reason. German preferences seem to be dominating European Union policy making (e.g. the continued effective veto on proposals for a genuinely European bond arrangement), and are arguably (through pressures for ‘austerity’) having a broader global impact too. Abe and Mark asked a variety of people to think about the causes and consequences of Germany’s policy stance – we’ll be publishing the results over the next few days.

Academic workshops like this are not uncommon. However, given the time horizons of academic publishing (which are better measured in years, if not geological epochs, than days or weeks), their findings are usually outdated by the time they see the light of day. Blogs (which get more attention usually than e.g. departmental websites) seem a nice way to get the results out in a more timely fashion. Thanks to the Mortara Center and Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown for hosting the original event. The participants in this seminar are as follows:

* Sheri Berman is Associate Professor of Political Science at Barnard College.
* Mark Blyth is Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University.
* Aaron Boesenecker is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service of American University.
* Richard Deeg is Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at Temple University.
* Henry Farrell is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.
* Wade Jacoby is Professor of Political Science at Brigham Young University.
* Matthias Matthjis is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service of American University
* Abraham Newman is Assistant Professor at the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University.
* Tobias Schulze-Cleven is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Bamberg.
* Mark Vail is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tulane University.

The posts by Abe Newman, Richard Deeg and Mark Blyth will go up shortly. The others will follow over the next two days. On Thursday, I’ll also put up a PDF of the seminar, for those who prefer to read on paper or via iPad, Kindle or whatever.



Mart 01.18.11 at 5:46 pm

Only a minor quibble, but i suspect there may be a typo somewhere here:
Wade Jacoby is Professor of Poolitical Science.
Sounds like an interesting debate – i look forward to following it, thanks.


Henry 01.18.11 at 6:01 pm

Thanks – fixed.


Matt L 01.18.11 at 7:01 pm

No historians invited, eh?


Henry 01.18.11 at 8:32 pm

Nope. Our retaliation for the “Chequers conference”:


IM 01.19.11 at 7:03 am

You also seem to run very low on germans.


Walt 01.19.11 at 8:04 am

Reading some of the comments has made me appreciate what the US discussion leading up to the Iraq War must have sounded like from the outside. Nationalist sentiment and a sense of being misunderstood by the world has a corrosive effect on discourse. Discussions of the Iraq War that contained zero Americans were on average more accurate than discussions with Americans.


IM 01.19.11 at 10:07 am

Ah, yes but some of these outsiders did at least understand something about Iraq. And could speak English, so that they did know why the US did act like it did. I mean compared to some of the conspiracy theories about the current german policy “Blood for oil” was almost sophisticated.


Henry 01.19.11 at 1:27 pm

IM – it was a workshop in the US without money to fly in large numbers from Europe. And the conspiracy theories about Germany are only matched by those expressed by Germans about the outside world (if I had five quid for every time I’ve heard a German tell me some variant on ‘They want to do us in because we are too good at making cars/machine tools/whatever” in the last year I’d have enough money for a pretty good night out).


Matt L 01.19.11 at 5:59 pm

@ Henry 4: Well, fair enough.

But I bet you still have time to find some historians who are more fun than Norman Stone or TGA.


Henry 01.19.11 at 6:11 pm

I was once at a weekend seminar with Norman Stone where the organizer and I tried to get him drunk enough to tell us what had _really_ happened at the Chequers conference. Sadly, we succeeded only too well in the first part of our ambitions at the expense of the second. After being fuelled by multiple glasses (I can’t remember of what – I suspect whiskey though), and telling me at length about how the great tragedy of British history was that they hadn’t persuaded the Irish to remain part of the United Kingdom, he lapsed into complete incoherence, and stumbled back to his accommodations, whence he arose late and discomposed the following morning, grievously insulted one of the staff, and had to be packed off on a train in disgrace. I actually found him considerably more entertaining as personal company than I’d have expected fwiw – but then we did not stray onto any of the more problematic political topics that he has strong views on.


praisegod barebones 01.19.11 at 6:36 pm

Henry @ 8

it was a workshop in the US without money to fly in large numbers from Europe

And as we know, no German citzen in their right mind would happen to be in the USA by reason of, say, residence or unrelated travel. Haven’t you heard about the blockade?

Come on. My other leg’s a glockenspiel .


Henry 01.19.11 at 6:49 pm

praisegod – you seem to be laboring under a fundamental misapprehension here. The organizers of the conference were inviting academic political scientists with a working interest in the international aspects of the German political economy. That’s what the seminar was about. It was not about inviting random German citizens to tell us what they thought, which would have been rather more difficult to secure funding for.

I was a participant in the conference rather than an organizer – the idea of doing it as a blog seminar came later – but they said that they had tried to get everyone who they could think of. Perhaps they missed someone – if you have any nominations for people (based in the US) who should have been there but were not, let us know. If not … then not …


praisegod barebones 01.19.11 at 6:57 pm

Actually, having had another look at the list of participants, I’d like to apologise for my comment at 10. I’d imagine that someone who is doing a post-doc. at the university of Bamberg might speak the odd word of German. Or even, conceivably, be German.


praisegod barebones 01.19.11 at 7:07 pm

On the other hand, given the tone of Henry’s response (cross-posted with my 13 – note to self, don’t try to comment on CT in the rough vicinity of children’s bed-time) I seem to have hit a nerve.

I’m not under the misapprehension that there’s no difference between an academic seminar and a bunch of pronouncements from random citizens. The misapprehension I’m apparently under (I mean, it’s apparently a misapprehension, given Henry’s response) is that there might be some German political scientists – or other Germans with topic-appropriate, informed knowledge – in the USA . That there aren’t seems worthy of note.


Henry 01.19.11 at 7:35 pm

praisegod – you came across (likely unintentionally – I too know the sorry effects of trying to post and get kids to bed simultaneously) as suggesting that I’d been somewhat dishonest in my explanation (the glockenspiel presumably being a variant on ‘pull the other one, it’s got bells on.’) Hence the asperity of the response.

There _are_ German political scientists working in the US (Tim Buethe and Herb Kitschelt, both at Duke, for example) but not really any who are dealing with related topics, as best as I know. As I say, I didn’t generate the shortlist, and I presume that there were others who were invited but weren’t able to make it for one reason or another, but I can’t think of someone who would have obviously fit, and who was German, but wasn’t there. Perhaps there are people who I didn’t think of, and who the organizers didn’t think of, but they are not obvious to me. Toby certainly is German, as you note. And while I am sure that there were Germans with topic-appropriate knowledge, this was (as best I know) designed and funded as a political science conference, not as, say, a political science meets practitioner conference (which can obviously generate useful insights, but which has drawbacks as well as advantages in terms of having helpful debate).


IM 01.19.11 at 9:17 pm

There most be dozens of german political scientist in the US, if not hundreds. (Or economists or historians focusing on post 1945 history*) But someone from say Poland or Italy would have been useful too.

* Or perhaps even a lawyer, who could have discussed: Karlsruhe and the EU: a phantom menance?


SW 01.20.11 at 10:36 am

But it is so frustrating how little knowledge they have about the chances and limits of monetary policy in the Eurozone. It is argued that the German solution might risk deflation:

“If Germany wants the Eurozone as a whole to become more like Germany, this would only exacerbate the existing global macroeconomic imbalances, with the next financial crisis just around the corner, putting into doubt the fragile “green shoots’’ of recovery most heads of state keep pointing towards in order to reassure their grumbling electorates that the worst is over.”
The other alternative to the debt crisis would be inflating it away by a politically instrumentalised ECB. Europe would hence be participating in the global currency war, with Germany’s export-led economy probably benefitting from a weak Euro. The problem, however, is that the majority of German and European pensions are invested in bonds. Inflation would hence reallocate capital from future German pensionists to the currently heavily indebted Southern European governments. Now, why is no one commenting on that?
High debt levels in Souther Europe came from decreased cost-of-capital, because with the Euro those countries benefitted from low German interest rates. Germany caused the problem. Now Germany takes the lead on solving it. But not through an instrumentalised ECB, as it is done in the US (where the US Fed is targeting sound inflation rates AND full employed, wheres the ECB is only out and about for inflation – this must not be forgotten!)
In economics, the impossible trinity of fixed exchange rates, free capital movement and a free monetary policy is well known. You have two, you can’t have the third. In the Eurozone we have fixed exchange rates, free capital movement, so the theory dictates that there is no free monetary policy. Indeed, the only way to deal with the current debt levels is austerity, because inflation is not an option.
Any comparison with the United States is also fundamentally flawed, as they can manipulate the Dollar.

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