Prosperity Through Competition

by Ludwig Erhard

As minister of economics after 1949, Erhard inherited a disaster created by Hitler, wartime controls, and Allied bombings. His steadfast advocacy of freedom led directly to the so-called German economic miracle. He smashed monopolies, repealed price controls, and dismantled statist controls of all sorts, thus striking a singular blow for the Austrian and libertarian traditions.

In 1957, Erhard wrote a fantastic book that explains the rationale for these policies. Until now, this book has been nearly impossible to find.

This new Mises Institute edition of Prosperity Through Competition allows us to look again at Erhard's thinking and methods. It is not written for politicians, consumers, or intellectuals. The group Erhard knew he had to pursue was the business class, for it still clung to the old controls and cartels, pushed inflation, and favored mercantilist policies.

Erhard makes an energetic, passionate plea for business to embrace free enterprise and competition in its own long-term self-interest. These arguments show that the free market is by no means just an excuse for the triumph of the business class. He writes, "In my opinion, the historic task of the Federal Republic in the second half of the 20th century that we have just entered upon is to underpin, to strengthen and to defend the free economic order of Europe with the full weight of German trade. The successful rehabilitation of my country must serve as clear documentary evidence to put before the still vacillating and doubting peoples, of the fact that only by firmly rejecting socialist dogmas, of whatever complexion, and by affirming a free economic order can mounting prosperity and genuine security be achieved."