The Berlin Republic: German Unification and a Decade of Changes

By Winand Gellner; John D. Robertson | Go to book overview

The Power of Institutions and Norms in Shaping National Answers to Globalisation: German Economic Policy After Unification

STEFAN A.SCHIRM

The globalisation of the world economy has been one of the most important factors influencing national economic policies in the last decades. Since the 1970s the deregulation of financial markets, liberalisation in world trade, technological innovation and the industrialisation success of some developing countries led to unprecedented growth and competition. The accelerating integration of national economies into the world market is changing the circumstances for private economic actors as well as for governmental policy-making. Globalisation defined as the increasing share of cross-border activities in total economic production increasingly blurs the distinction between 'internal' and 'external' economic processes.

The central result of this development is stronger global competition. This is foremost a pressure on private economic actors which have to compete increasingly on the world market. But it also forces states to compete with each other as locations for mobile capital, investment, technology and production. States that ignore the expectations of mobile resources are in principle 'punished' to a higher degree by withdrawal or withholding of economic resources, while states that offer profitable conditions benefit more from mobile resources than in the decades before globalisation. Therefore, globalisation changes the costs and benefits of economic policy options, stimulating world market-oriented reforms of national economic policies. Thus, globalisation leads to a general tendency of economic policies to converge around a liberal, world market-oriented paradigm. 1

Indeed, such a policy convergence can be observed for the OECD countries since the 1980s. In Europe, the neo-Keynesian consensus of the post-war decades eroded and countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom embarked on a new course following the principles of monetary stability and world market competitiveness. Within this general trend, remarkable differences remain not only between Europe and the

Stefan A. Schirm, University of Stuttgart

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