10.3. The economy of Germany after the Second World War
10.3.1. Problems and results of post-war development. Reforms by L. Erhard
The postwar state of the German economy was extremely difficult. In 1946, industrial production was 1/3 of the pre-war level, steel production fell by 7 times, coal production fell more than twofold, decades ago agriculture was discarded, most of the industrial enterprises were destroyed. Germany lost 25% of its territory, every second German did not have a job. High inflation, the card system, the ruin of small entrepreneurs, speculation had a disastrous effect on the living standard of the population. The commodity deficit, low purchasing power of the brand led to the naturalization of commodity exchange not only in the sphere of consumption, but also in the sphere of production.
The active support of the United States in accordance with the Marshall Plan was of great importance for the economic recovery of Germany. Germany was provided with a total of $ 3.12 billion. Assistance came in the form of supply of goods, and funds from their sale, intended for the development of the economy, went to special funds and banks.At the same time, the economic policy of L. Erhard played a huge role in the restoration of the German economy and the further economic development that ensured the "German miracle".
In the period of preparation for war and during its conduct, the country's economy functioned in the conditions of strict administrative management. In fact, the economic freedom of the market mechanism was eliminated. During the Nazi dictatorship, competition and entrepreneurial activity were suppressed. All political freedoms and social guarantees were abolished.
In this regard, the main direction of L. Erhard's reforms was a return to market principles of economic development and, first of all, to the freedom of private entrepreneurship and competition. The ideological basis of the reforms was the idea of L. Erhard about the social market economy, combining, on the one hand, the freedom of entrepreneurship, consumption, choice of activities, profession, workplace, and on the other - the active economic role of the state. L. Erhard's economic reforms were aimed at developing economic freedom, removing mechanisms of monopoly influence on the market, disclosing the entrepreneurial potential of the population.
The new economic order should harmoniously combine market freedom, state regulation, individualism, social responsibility with the goal of achieving prosperity for all. The role of the state was to determine development priorities, to oversee and regulate, to create the most favorable investment and business climate.
The decisive condition and factor of social development L. Erhard considered a man. He wrote that the ideal represented to him rests on the fact that a person could say: "I have enough strength to stand up for myself, I want to take the risk myself, I want to be responsible for my own destiny. You, the state, do not care about my affairs, but leave me so much freedom and leave me so much from the result of my work that I myself, and at my own discretion, can ensure my own existence, my destiny and the fate of my family. " Thus, the most important task of the state was not the maximization of state social assistance and the distribution of social benefits, but the creation of conditions for the development of a market economy and effective employment of the population.
L. Erhard believed that the basis for the economic revival of Germany should be a free private initiative and competition, combined with active state regulation of the economy, aimed at the formation of a liberal market economy and legal protection of business activities. Such measures of state regulation as low taxes, free prices, antimonopoly legislation, a system of privileges for private entrepreneurship, protection of the domestic market from external competition, created conditions for realizing the potential of society.
The implementation of L. Erhard's economic policy began with monetary reform and price reform. June 21, 1948 was a monetary reform aimed at the elimination of depreciated money and the creation of a hard currency - a currency that could be an incentive to work and increase productivity.
Reichsmarks were declared invalid and new money was introduced - dojmarki. Every citizen of the country received 40 new marks. Later, this amount was increased by another 20. Pensions, wages and rents were paid in new brands at a ratio of 1: 1. At the same time, half of the savings and cash was allowed to be exchanged at a ratio of 1:10, the rest was frozen and later exchanged at the rate of 1: 20.
Most of the enterprises' financial liabilities were recalculated in the ratio 1:10. They were allocated the money necessary to pay the first salary and purchase working capital, but later they could develop only on the basis of independent commercial and production activities. The reduction in the money supply led to the fact that enterprises were forced to produce high-quality, inexpensive and really necessary products for which they were willing to spend limited money.
The price reform was based on the principles of liberalization. The state stopped setting firm prices, but continued to control them. Control was exercised through legislative acts that prevented arbitrary overstatement of prices, the release of catalogs of "relevant prices" in which consumers received information on recommended prices. The administrative allocation of resources and regulatory documents that previously regulated economic relations were canceled (Figure 23).
A strict anti-monopoly law was adopted, which protected free competition. He promoted the implementation of the two basic principles of the social market economy - "welfare for all". and "welfare through competition". In accordance with this law, the share of one company on the market
should not exceed 33%, two or three - 50%, and four or five - not more than 65%. The economic power of monopolies was limited to control over prices that should be established on the market freely, as a result of the interaction of market forces.
The reforms of L. Erhard in a short time gave significant economic results. In just two years, the production of consumer goods has doubled, and the "black market" has disappeared. A significant increase in labor productivity led to an increase in wages, which reduced the impact of inflation. Accelerated rates of development of such industries as engineering, instrumentation, optics, electric power. In 1950 (compared with 1936), car production increased by 60%, electricity - by 61.6%. In 1956, the output exceeded the level of production in 1936 twice. Since 1953 prices have stabilized and even started to decline.
In 1947-1949 years. an agrarian reform was carried out, which reduced the number of large Junker farms. The main part of the land was owned by medium and small farms. The high intensity of this sector of the economy on the basis of mechanization and electrification led to an increase in absolute volumes of production with a decrease in the number of the agricultural population.
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