Are economies human creations

Does the global economy need a new vision?

Lecture on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tübingen
Tübingen, May 4, 2017


As always, I enjoy being here. And as always, when I speak in Tübingen, my heart beats a little faster than at other speeches, because of course there is still a great deal of awe for my alma mater after all these many years: Here, like many of you, I sweated on so many a hard exam and cursed at many a strict professor; Here I followed the student protests in 1968 with the impatient detachment of a working-class son who, above all, wanted to finish his studies quickly because he had to finance it himself; Here I had to drag myself to the data center for many nights during my dissertation, because only then was the coveted computer free to read my punched cards.

I therefore feel a very honest and unprotected pleasure and also a little pride when I congratulate you - no: us - on the 200th anniversary of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tübingen. Now nobody is sitting here in the hall who could pin the success of 200 years on their lapel, but I would still like to say thank you - thank you to all those who, in the awareness of the proud and rich tradition of this faculty, have helped shape teaching and science here - the members of the governing bodies, the professors, staff and students. It is one of the great treasures of human existence that we know we are embedded in historical contexts that point beyond our own life, and such great anniversaries as this 200th anniversary can teach us to be grateful for what previous generations have achieved and they remind us at the same time, our obligation to work not only for ourselves, but also for those who come after us.

The year 1817 was a long time ago, and so it fills me again and again with respect to remember which of our present social, political and economic foundations were already thought out back then by clever, persistent and courageous people who are only a fraction of our current knowledge had available. In 1817, when Kant had already thought about reason and eternal peace, Adam Smith had already presented a theory of ethical feelings and declared the prosperity of nations, and in that year 1817, the "State Economics Faculty" in Tübingen Opened doors, argued a certain David Ricardo convincingly, why all economies should use their comparative cost advantages for international division of labor and for trade with one another.

200 years later, many hopes have been fulfilled, and at the same time many a pioneering thinker of the past centuries would rub their eyes if he saw how today the principles of logic and reason and possibly also ethical feelings are being combated with alternative facts; and how, 200 years after Ricardo, proud democracies that have become rich through free trade can win elections with calls for isolation and retreat.

We live in troubled, strange times that perhaps one day will actually be described as the turning point of an era. It is a time that seems to be shattered by the contradictions that modernity itself has created - a time that is overwhelmed by its own complexity. In any case, the unsettling successes of the nationalists in many countries do not seem to me like runaways by moody voters, but like symptoms of a deeper disorientation in politics, society and the economy. Do we still know where we want to go? Do we still have confidence in the future? And who exactly is "we"? The uncertainty is particularly evident in the debates about globalization and the relationship between nation and world. The longing for clear, simple answers - the longing for Limitation in a world without borders - often triumphs over the ambivalent and complex logic of intertwined global processes.

Today I would like to trace these ambivalences and complexities with you, and would like to dare to try to shed light on some milestones in the thicket of uncertainty debates. I have put all of this for myself in the question that you could read in the title of the presentation announcement: Does the global economy need a new vision?

When I came to a standstill while writing this manuscript, I wondered for a moment whether I could not simply answer the question “Does the global economy need a new vision?” With a friendly “No, thank you, doesn't need it”, then to say goodbye to you - but my Swabian honor tells me that I have to earn the wine and the pretzel afterwards when I receive it, and so I want to answer a little more detailed.


First of all, we have to investigate another question which the global public has discussed very controversially in recent months and years: what has the enormously increased economic interdependence of the past decades - let's call it for the sake of simplicity globalization - actually brought? I would like to give a simple and a more complex answer to this.

The simple answer is - and it is well documented: the bottom line is that globalization has brought the world an unprecedented level of material prosperity. In China alone, well over half a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty. In Germany, neither the economic miracle after the Second World War nor German unification would have been possible without the close involvement in international economic and trade flows. And beyond purely economic considerations, globalization has brought enormous progress to mankind: Science, culture and social interaction have also been enriched through the exchange of ideas and goods - and also through migration. Nobel laureate for economics Angus Deaton shows in his work “The Great Escape” that the globalization-favored exchange of medical knowledge and drugs made a decisive contribution to the fact that global life expectancy increased more in the last 50 years than in the entire previous millennium.

That’s the simple answer.

The complicated answer to what globalization has done is - well, complicated. Because of course not everyone benefited equally from it. Former World Bank economist Branko Milanovic helps us understand who the winners and losers of globalization have been over the past three decades. First, the huge growth in China and other Asian countries has created a new global middle class. On the other hand, there are, secondly, the middle classes of the western industrial nations, who have hardly profited - the bottom 50% in these countries had little or no income gains and are therefore the relative losers. Third, the big winners are the super-rich - Milanovic calls them "global plutocrats," who are both relatively and absolutely immense and so rich it is beyond our imagination. Fourthly, it could be added that although there have been modest relative successes in fighting poverty in Africa, these are being eaten up again in many places by population growth. Overall, it can be argued that although global inequality has decreased - especially when comparing the West with Asia - inequality has increased within many countries, not least in the industrialized countries. Not everything, but a lot of it, can be ascribed to globalization - because, of course, a growing international division of labor always means structural change, and this has domestic distributional effects and can lead to job losses. Daron Acemoglu and others have calculated that the United States lost at least two million jobs to the People's Republic of China between 1999 and 2011. Admittedly, this finding should then be immediately supplemented by the calculation of what wealth gain from trade with China and globalization has brought all Americans in this period - a study comes to an average gain from globalization of 11,700 for the period from 1990 to 2014 Euros per head.

The complicated side of the globalization balance is not only in the social, but of course above all in the ecological. Climate change - unfortunately - a fact. It is the clearest example that the broad expansion of capitalism, which simply externalizes enormous costs, leads to problems. 15 of the 16 hottest years on record were in this century. In many ecosystems we are approaching dangerous tipping points which, once passed, can lead to abrupt and irreversible changes in the earth system. Our ecosystem is just not like the houseplant in the living room that you can simply buy a new one when it dies. That makes this evening's question so urgent, because climate change is radically changing the policy framework. “Buying time” as a means of politics is becoming less and less possible. You can't negotiate a delay with the climate.

So that’s the complicated answer. The balance of globalized modernity suggests that it is the simultaneity of creation and destruction that makes our present so difficult to understand, the abundance of contradictions, the ambivalence of solutions that only create new problems in other areas. And with that, after looking at the past, I want to take a look at the future, at three major challenges that the global economy has to cope with - challenges that in part it has only created itself. And that is why the question arises from the start: can this world economy also be the solution at the same time?


I want to discuss three major trends.

First: global population growth. In our favorite reference year tonight, 1817, the world population was just over 1 billion, and it would take over a hundred years before it exceeded 2 billion in 1923. Since then, things have progressed faster and faster: in 1999 the 6 billion were cracked, in 2012 the 7 billion. In the year 2050 almost 10 billion people will be living on this planet, ten times more than in the year this faculty was founded. Incidentally, this is initially no reason to complain, but above all a result of the happily increasing life expectancy and lower child mortality. But all these people want to be fed, want work and income, need schools and hospitals and living space and water and energy. All of this can only be achieved with massive economic growth in today's poor countries, because it is precisely there that the population will grow - on the African continent alone, a doubling to two and a half billion people is expected by 2050. The problem is that the only solution the world economy has for dealing with population growth, namely growth, creates gigantic problems for us on another level. That brings me to:

Second: the planetary boundaries. It is actually a simple, natural thought, but in our consumer societies, in which we can buy anything in almost any quantity at any time, it is hardly part of our personal experience: Resources are finite. We cannot consume indefinitely what the planet makes available to people. Nevertheless, we consume all kinds of resources well above the natural rate of reproduction. The price mechanism, which, if one follows economic theory, is actually supposed to ensure optimal control of supply and demand, is completely dysfunctional - because future generations cannot signal their demand for resources at all; their purchasing power is zero and with it their ability to influence the price. In the case of fossil energies, there is the additional difficulty that the problem is not the scarcity of resources (“peak oil” is basically a false fear), but that we are not even allowed to use the existing fossil resources completely if we use the CO2-Limit emissions and thus want to prevent the most catastrophic climate change. But now we have a world economic system that does not really price in the long-term limited supply of natural resources and thus lives from the illusion of planetary boundlessness. So where should the growth come from that we need for the growing world population, what ecological substance should this growth be nourished from, if humanity is already living beyond its means? That is perhaps the most important question of this century, and one which I will discuss in more detail later.

Both major problems, population growth and planetary boundaries, would be enough of a challenge. But there is also a third trend, and like so many things this evening, it is ambivalent.

Thirdly: technical progress, or more specifically: digitization. At this point I have to mention my personal little Tübingen WiWi anniversary - 40 years ago, in 1977, I received my doctorate here. My dissertation was entitled “The release of work through technical progress”. At that time I came to the conclusion that technical progress is only under the condition of steady growth does not lead to unemployment. I did not question growth as a problem solver - today I see it in a much more nuanced way, I will come back to it later, as I said. At the time, I had no real idea of ​​the fundamental upheavals that technical progress would trigger through digitization and artificial intelligence, not least in the world of work: Today and in the future, robots, computers and automatic machines do not just do physical routine work, but all kinds of predictable work - from the automatic analysis of medical data, for example, to even surgical interventions by robots. After industrial workers, are doctors now even threatened by competition from intelligent robots? In any case, the competition between humans and machines is getting tougher and tougher. A study by Acemoglu and Restrepo, which was only published a few weeks ago, has now empirically examined and confirmed this for the first time. And the hope that all people, whose work can be done better and faster by robots and computers, will find new work as programmers is unfortunately no more than whistling in the forest. John Maynard Keynes' 1930 prediction of a new "disease of technological unemployment" may now come true. Of course, digitization has far more effects than labor market policy, and it is without a doubt also a great opportunity for humanity. But we have to recognize that it is unlikely to help provide the growing world population with sufficient jobs, on the contrary. And the hope that technical progress could find us out of the scarcity of resources, as it were, how Münchhausen pulled itself out of the swamp on its own, has so far not been justified by anything. More and more efficient products are being brought onto the market that consume fewer resources per unit, but more and more units are being consumed overall.

You can imagine these three big trends, i.e. population growth, scarcity of resources and digitization, like big trains approaching each other, and not two, but three of them. That may sound dramatic, but only when we look at all three of these gigantic future challenges together, only when we understand how little solutions on just one side of the triangle will help us because they only aggravate the problems on another side of the triangle - only then will they we are aware of the mammoth task that humanity is facing. And then it also becomes clear that our current global economy does not provide an adequate answer to these challenges. And I think a lot of people all over the world are feeling that. They are losing the belief that our current way of doing business will continue to do well in the long run, that our current system fulfills the great universal hope that unites all parents on earth: that the children may one day be better off than myself Century, anyway, that of the constant progress that lifts all boats, it has faded.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the global economy needs a new vision.


It remains true: every country is the forge of its own happiness, has its own identity, culture and has to develop its own ideas for the future. And yet a vision for the world economy can only be global. Before you accuse me of circular reasoning, because of course there is a vision for them worldeconomy by definition global: unfortunately it is no longer a matter of course to have a view of the future with the claim that entire To look at the world and not just a part of it. But national visions à la “America First”, yes, even regional visions that ignore the global context and the perspectives of other countries, obviously fall short when you consider the problem triangle that I have just described. I know there is a debate about whether the interdependence of the global economy cannot be reversed in parts - yes, of course it is, even if only at immense economic costs. But still we are and will remain dependent on each other, humanity is still in the same boat, yet we live in an age of irrevocable interdependence, because Donald Trump will not be able to build a wall against climate change and Vladimir Putin or Recip Erdogan will also become the most authoritarian state cannot prevent pandemics, and we Europeans do not need to believe that we can think about a future for Europe without also thinking about the future of our neighbor Africa, on which, I repeat, two and a half billion people will live in 30 years. two thirds of them are young people under 25. In the 21st century, humanity is irrevocably in the same boat. Therefore, we need policy responses that converge into a new paradigm of global partnership, a culture of collaboration and mutual accountability. That is why we should not trust purely national answers, which only collapse as soon as one takes a global perspective. And that is why every vision for the world economy must be a global one, i.e. it must provide a universal answer to the question of what people can hope for.

And this vision is obvious: we need a global economy that enables all people on earth to live in dignity - without destroying our planet.

The last time I gave a lecture in this auditorium, in December 2013, I put it in a similar way, and at that time I reported on a process that I was with some other personalities from all over the world at a so-called high level -Panel prepared: the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, this agenda was then unanimously adopted by the 194 member states of the UN, i.e. practically all countries in the world - not a matter of course in these tense times. The core of the agenda is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a comprehensive bundle of 17 goals to which all countries are committed - goals that affect social, ecological and economic development. And in contrast to the previous Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs, are not a reform program for developing countries, but a transformation agenda for all states. Together with the Paris Climate Agreement, which was also agreed by all countries in the world in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals formulate a bold vision: We can be the first generation to eradicate extreme poverty and the last generation to be threatened by climate change. This vision says that it is very possible to deal with population growth, scarcity of resources and technological advances in such a way that everyone is better off.

But that is only possible if we don't continue as before. We need a new Great Transformation of our economies and societies - comparable in dimension to the transformation of the medieval agricultural society into an industrial society. And that means: We need a global economy that leaves no one behind and that is fundamentally renewed by a decarbonisation and efficiency revolution. Above all, this requires leadership by example from the industrialized countries. First of all, the production and consumption patterns have to change, the type of energy generation, agriculture and mobility. First of all, there must be a willingness to give poor countries better framework conditions through a new international trade and tax policy. I will come back to some of the central construction sites of the great transformation in a moment.

First, however, I want to specify my vision for the global economy at one point. The vision is to enable everyone to live in dignity. And so the world economy will have to be measured against the future of the African continent. Because there the question of perspectives for the people, especially for the rapidly growing youth population, is most urgent. The IMF calculated that 18 million jobs would have to be created in Africa annually by 2035 in order to absorb the growing youth population into the labor market. 18 million jobs every year, that is a historically unprecedented task! And yet, in many discussions about the state and future of the global economy, I don't get the feeling that this task is actually being mastered global Challenge is seen, or that the African jobs agenda is high on any priority list at all. For example, when there was a lot going on about the advantages and disadvantages of TTIP, little was heard about what a transatlantic free trade agreement actually means for African opportunities to join global value chains. This should be a central question for anyone thinking about the global economy of the future. Instead, delegate these questions to a few brave development politicians and NGOs! For example, I would have liked the negotiations on the European Economic Partnership Agreements with the African regions to have been much more focused on supporting the development of diversified and job-creating economies in Africa. In view of the so-called refugee crisis, it is no longer necessary to explain to anyone that it is in our direct European and German self-interest that massive jobs are created in Africa. Last but not least, we should spell out the African part of our global economic vision like this: Let us work together with the Africans to make this continent a new pole of global growth! The immense natural resources of Africa, its still growing young population and its entrepreneurial spirit all stand for this vision. Why is the transformation of the African economies so slow? I think the main reason for this is a lack of political will - both in the African capitals and in the industrialized countries. Africa's rise will only be possible if both come together, the responsibility of Africans and the supportive global framework (in UN parlance this is called the “global enabling environment”).

And if you are really serious, ladies and gentlemen, you should also read, for example, what the Reutlingen craftsman Friedrich List wrote, who, as you know, had the brilliant idea of ​​founding this faculty with Baron von Wangenheim in 1817 and here Became a professor. List has justified why and under what circumstances a temporary "education tariff" for the growth of new economic structures can make sense. It was today's industrialized countries that grew up with precisely such measures! Who seriously believes that the Africans, in today's much tougher competitive situation, can now manage to build up a competitive industry without their own infant industries to protect against global competition for a certain period of time?

It is clear that the urgently needed economic structural change in Africa can only be successful if there is also structural change in the industrialized countries. Because of course the growth of new, job-creating economic sectors in Africa will also have an impact on the structures and number of jobs in the industrialized countries. To put it more clearly: If we really want Africans to process more and more of their own raw materials themselves in the future - and we have to want that if we are serious about the so-called combating the causes of flight - then we have to be prepared for the fact that in certain cases Sectors jobs that are created in Africa will be lost here.

Can a horror scenario emerge from this, is the great decline of the West now imminent, which, as some believe, began with the rise of Asia and is possibly sealed by the rise of Africa? After all, workers in today's rich north face double competition from robots and from the rising middle classes of the south. I don't see any reason to despair. It is certainly a major political task to ensure that the differences are narrowing between societies are not thwarted by continued high or increasing inequality within of the companies. Otherwise we would have reached the same point as 200 years ago, when in the birth lottery it was not the country of birth but the class into which one was born that decided the prospects of prosperity. That can't be part of our vision for the global economy.

The fear of job losses and increasing inequality in the industrialized countries must be an incentive here for a different distribution policy - and above all for a more determined innovation policy. However, this concern must not lead to the structural change in Africa and us being held back. That would be short-sighted. The acceptance of structural change is the price for more stability, development and peace in the world. Above all, however, it is also a great opportunity, especially for Europe: If we understand this structural change in the context of the Great Transformation, as I described it above with the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, then it can give a global boost to ecological and social issues Triggering innovation, yes, a new era of real prosperity for everyone. That is a vision of the world economy that is worth fighting for. And we will have to fight, because the perseverance of the vested interests is great.

To do this, however, we have to say goodbye to a major misunderstanding and rethink a concept that shapes our view of business and politics like no other, a concept that seems to have almost magical power, and all kinds of problems in a miraculous way able to solve: I am talking about economic growth.

I hope, by the way, that you have been warned before you come that Koehler speeches are always too long.


Growth is the mantra of modernity. Companies have to grow. Economies need to grow. Yes, even democracies have to grow because we have long since made the solution of distribution conflicts dependent on a steadily growing cake. The growth fixation of politics and economy is most evident where it leads to growthguessfixation degenerated and thus finally exposed as an end in itself: this was observed at the G20 summit in Australia in 2014, when the heads of state and government promised each other a growth rate 2 percentage points higher for the next 5 years. Even as a student in Tübingen, I was told that growth was a regulatory policyguesspolitics is often the beginning of economic decline. In fact, there is now a threat of a political culture of constant financial and monetary policy stimulation. This could mean that the next debt crisis could be inevitable.

And the ecological crisis is also fueled by our growth mantra, because we have not yet succeeded in decoupling growth from the consumption of fossil resources. And above all, the growth rate fetishism causes the ecological perspective to be permanently set back.

Please don't get me wrong: I'm not against growth. You will remember what I said about the challenge of demographic development and poverty - we need massive economic growth in poor countries so that the people there can lead a self-determined life in dignity - and, incidentally, also because we know that if there is an improvement of living conditions, the birth rates are falling. So it's not about condemning growth across the board. Rather, it is about the two questions: What should grow - and where should it grow?

Regarding the “where”: Growth is especially needed where people lack the bare essentials, in other words in developing countries. There politics should and can achieve high growth rates! Meanwhile, the time series for the rich industrialized countries show us that the growth rate will decrease over a long period of time. Uwe Sunde from the University of Munich also presented a plausible population science theory for this. A world economy that would develop in the next two decades with growth trends of a good 5% for the developing countries, a good 3% for the emerging countries and a good 1% for the industrialized countries should in principle let us sleep well. In fact, in its latest monthly report, the Bundesbank anticipates that the rate for potential growth in Germany will fall below 1% by 2025. As far as I know, that hasn't caused any excitement so far. On the one hand, this serenity is justified in view of the general level of prosperity in Germany. On the other hand, we shouldn't confuse serenity with indifference and low growth rates with stagnation. I believe that securing a long-term growth path of 1% requires a higher overall economic investment rate than we are currently pursuing in Germany. And that would definitely be necessary for a courageous implementation of the SDGs.

That leads us to the question What because it is supposed to grow. We still need innovation and progress in order to solve the diverse problems of our time. But we need them in the right direction! Some sectors have to shrink or disappear, the coal industry is certainly one of them, and we all know, even if people don't like to hear that in Stuttgart, that the future certainly does not belong to the internal combustion engine. In contrast, scientific research and all economic activities that drive the decarbonisation and efficiency revolution should grow. And what can really grow without limits are two things above all: human empathy and human creativity - I'll come back to that in a moment.

But first a short digression on something that should definitely no longer grow: that is speculative financeU.Nessence of investment banks and shadow banks, a financial system that has long ceased to serve the real economy, but drives it on. Isn't it an absurd situation? Gigantic sums of money are wandering around the globe, desperately looking for returns in increasingly risky financial products, while at the same time in Africa we have huge unmet investment needs for schools, hospitals, roads, solar power plants, railways, services; actually for everything ... There the money should flow in and contribute to real economic growth, not to the growth bubbles of a self-referential financial industry! I also have a dream: that the rich, aging societies of the north build sustainable financial bridges to the poor, young societies of the south, that the savings of some find a real return with real investments in the other. That could lead to an understanding of a new global intergenerational contract. I welcome the fact that the German government is considering, as part of the G20 presidency, how investment opportunities in Africa can be broadened and made secure for insurance companies or sovereign wealth funds. If that succeeds, the financial industry, as a bridge builder, would have something again that it has long since lost in many parts: namely, meaning.

What is the point of growth, ladies and gentlemen? What's the point of economics? And, yes: what is the meaning of life? These questions are not esoteric, even if they are unfortunately no longer or far too little asked in recent economics, although many classics of our subject were also, or even first of all, moral philosophers.

We have to gain more clarity about what prosperity actually is, and that starts with the observation that growth and prosperity are not identical - the slaves in the shadow of growing pyramids knew that, and the inhabitants of smug industrial areas know that. And what is the counted growth really? value - Couldn't it be that the consumption of resources for the second and third car, the senselessness of consumption as a status symbol, or the stay at a spa due to burn-out in the wheel of the modern world of work are possibly on the wrong side in the growth measurement? Research shows that people in countries with high per capita incomes are not necessarily happier.

I believe that the reality of falling growth rates in industrialized societies, and the economic, ecological and political necessity to create more space for growth in the south, can above all be an opportunity to rediscover what constitutes prosperity and what quality of life really is; to rediscover what really makes sense in our life and brings happiness. And these are above all those things that have no price: interpersonal relationships, empathy, leisure, art. All of this can and may grow. And that is why the prospect of a global economy that is growing at different speeds and in different forms is neither a zero-sum game nor a waiver scenario. It can make us all richer. Immanuel Kant reminds us that precisely because man has no price, he has something much more valuable, namely: dignity.

And I don't want to downplay the fact that the structural change that is ahead of us due to the triangle of industrialization in the south, ecological transformation and digitization can lead to social upheaval in us. That is why it is important to really think through the vision of a “world economy for all” consistently. We will need a completely different education policy, and we will have to rethink distribution policy. We have to prepare for a world in which there may not be enough traditional gainful employment for everyone. What new forms of work can there be? Do we perhaps have to decouple income from the work factor and think about an unconditional basic income, or - as I personally find that more plausible - about a negative income tax? How can we promote social participation and self-empowerment completely independently of gainful employment? John Maynard Keynes was still wondering what people would do with all the free time around the year 2030 if, thanks to advances in productivity, they could work a few hours a week to earn their living. Let’s finally discuss this question again, and better sooner than later.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Now at the latest some of you will scratch your head and whisper and ask whether Koehler has gone among the critics of capitalism. Or, going even further, you will ask the legitimate question whether the beautiful vision I am drawing here can really be achieved within the existing system.

I don't want to leave you in any doubt tonight: I'm a market economist dyed in the wool. I firmly believe that people's creativity develops under conditions of freedom and competition - may the best idea win. I firmly believe that taking risks and hard work must pay off. But I also firmly believe that property obliges (this is what our Basic Law says!), That risk and liability belong together, that the weak must also be protected, and that prices must actually reflect the real costs. And I believe that the market economy is a principle of order for that economy is, and not for all areas of human life. What has dignity must not have a price tag. We have to ask ourselves how far global capitalism as we experience it today has anything to do with it. His inherent ruthlessness towards losers, his shrewdness towards rules, his indifference towards ecological externalities, and his tremendous ability to subordinate himself to things that should not really follow any market logic - philosophers and economists have before that, Kant and Smith and Röpke and many others warned throughout history. I consider it necessary and possible to replace this variant of capitalism with a multifaceted form of a global socio-ecological market economy. But we will only have a chance to do this if the countries of the world work on it together and not against each other. This is one of the reasons why the current climate of confrontation and burgeoning national egoism in world politics and the world economy is so dangerous. And that is precisely why the United Nations and the paradigm shift it proposes to a global partnership are so important.

Regardless of major politics, it is already possible for anyone to work on this new vision of a global economy that enables everyone to live in dignity without destroying the planet - and there are already countless examples of this in municipalities, not least here in Tübingen, in schools, universities, companies and families.

And economics? Doesn't it have to be value-neutral, hold back, do without visions?

Let me say it for me personally: In my long career as an economist, I have always learned the most where the boundaries of economics were broken, where I looked left and right, into culture, politics, and even theology - and I always got further if I did not ignore the question of the meaning. Most of the time, I only really understood a political problem if I didn't just look at it through the glasses of an economist.

So I want economics that don't turn out to be Justificationscience for a particular economic model, rather than Accountablescience - which with empiricism and theory always demands economic structures and actors to deliver its sense to prove. I wish for an economics that rediscovered its roots of moral philosophy for the present day. I would like economics to be able to convert the frictions that become apparent from a global perspective into energy for constructive solutions. And I want economics that doesn't explain away the contradictions of our time, but brings them to the point.

It is part of the cross of modern man to have to endure all the contradictions that our modernity produces, all the simultaneity of destruction and construction. That overwhelms many. And that's why politics, but also science, is called upon to find a productive way of dealing with these paradoxes, which can never be completely resolved - just not to give easy answers, but to wrestle with the complex structures, with the points of friction , and to circling around a problem with the diversity of perspectives until the various requirements come into a new equilibrium.

I wish you and all of us: Enjoyment in this circle, joy in diversity, in contradiction, in questioning - and courage for visions.

Many Thanks.