A German “Liberal” (Christian Lindner)

Posted by John Rosenthal

The Free Democratic Party (FDP) is supposed to be Germany’s “liberal” party, i.e. in the sense of economically liberal. Does this mean that the party rejects the general bashing of the financial sector that is practiced by all the other major German parties nowadays or even, say, pushes back against it? You be the judge. The following are two translated excerpts from an interview with Christian Lindner, the FDP party chair, that appeared in Friday’s (14 May) edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

What this country needs is political orientation and clear priorities. The most important thing is promptly to discipline the financial markets.

(…)

We have to bring the financial markets back to their service function. We want to bring a stop to games of chance, lust for profit and the shameless shunting of risks onto the taxpayer, without, however, sacrificing the usefulness of financial markets for savers and the middle class on the alter of the current outrage. That is why we are against a tax on [financial] transactions and for a tax on bank salaries and bank profits.

The reference to the “service function” of financial markets – which is apparently to be determined and delimited by the state – echoes similar remarks made by German president Horst Köhler in his recent speech to the Munich Economic Summit. (See my report on Pajamas Media here.)

In classical liberalism, of course, one customarily refers to the profit motive. Note that the chair of Germany’s supposedly classical liberal party here refers to the same rather as the “lust for profit” [Profitgier].

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