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Political Infrastructures for Economic Knowledge:: The American Military Administration of Germany and its View of the German Economy, 1945–1947

Tobias Vogelgsang

A chapter in Including a Symposium on the Historical Epistemology of Economics, 2017, vol. 35A, pp 63-83 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract A great deal of economic knowledge comes in the form of statistics, tables, graphs, and reports. In government, such materials often abound and point policymakers into different directions. Nonetheless, some materials evidently are more effective than others. Why is that? This chapter examines how high-level administrators reconfigure an institutional setup, so that it produces effective economic materials. A range of other supply-side strategies are discussed, too. The chapter takes a historical approach and focuses on actual practices. It examines activities and materials by rivaling actors in the American military administration of Germany, OMGUS, during 1945/46. The chapter finds that actors make materials effective through two interlocking strategies. First, actors re-engineer an institution in order to control which materials it produces and disseminates; second, actors align and adapt the specific content, form, and delivery of materials to their broader aim. The chapter supplements the economic history of Germany after World War II with a historical epistemologist perspective. It shows that the shift of US policy from economic restriction to reactivation was facilitated by a group of actors in OMGUS. By re-engineering the institution and creating official materials with a consistent narrative, they succeeded in transmitting their view, the need for economic reactivation, to the Washington administration.

Keywords: OMGUS; Germany; Clay; Bernstein; Hoover; economic policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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