Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation

By Kaevan Gazdar | Go to book overview

Introduction

Wealth is a fundamental concept in economics--indeed, perhaps the conceptual starting point for the discipline. Despite its centrality, however, the concept of wealth has never been a matter of general consensus.

-- Robert L. Heilbroner "Wealth," in Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

Early definitions of wealth equate it with welfare and well-being. Later, wealth was held to comprise the stock of economic goods held by an individual or a state. The wealth of nations was first measured in gold and silver, then to an increasing extent in terms of land and labor.

Adam Smith pathbreaking Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations emphasized the centrality of productive labor. Smith's greatest achievement was his discovery of the division of labor's revolutionary impact on productivity: according to him, the wealth of nations ultimately depended on their productivity.

Most contemporary economists continue to emphasize productivity. Paul Krugman echoes the views of many of his colleagues with the assertion:
"Productivity isn't everything, but in the long run, it is almost everything."1

Statistics apparently confirm the accuracy of this contention: the United States of America, the world's largest economy, also leads in productivity. Data published by the McKinsey Global Institute and OECD between 1990 and 1995 illustrate this lead:

-1-

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Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 1- The Mittelstand: Microcosm Of The Germany Economy 23
  • Notes 44
  • Chapter 2- Order and the Business Mentality 47
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter 3- Commitment and the Business Environment 77
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter 4- The Socioeconomic Foundations of Wealth 107
  • Notes 136
  • Chapter 5- The Cultural Roots of Order And Commitment 141
  • Notes 164
  • Chapter 6- The Psychological Roots Of Order and Commitment 167
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 7- Past Miracles, Present Continuity, Future Consensus 187
  • Notes 218
  • Selected Bibliography 223
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 230
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