Understanding the social market economy: Francesco Forte and his peculiar interpretation

Thursday, 17 March 2016: 11:10 AM
Markus Krienke, Ph.D. , Rosmini Institute, Lugano, Switzerland
Flavio Felice, Ph.D. , Economics, Pontifical Lateran University, Vatican, Vatican City
Social thought, which emerges from the economic writings of Prof. Francesco Forte, is mainly inspired by methodological individualism, though interpreted through a peculiar “personalistic” key. Here emerges the important influence, which the classic philosophical and literate tradition affected him: the central figures for prof. Forte are thinkers like philosopher Antonio Rosmini and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, while the economic references are primarily his mentors Ezio Vanoni and Luigi Einaudi.

In our work, we will show how Prof. Forte proposes an “Einaudian” interpretation of that doctrine, according to one of his main references in economic thought: Luigi Einaudi. This interpretation is very skeptical regarding the possible "trouble", which results from inconsistent interpretations of the social philosophy that at first the fathers of ordoliberalism referred to, and then the theoreticians of SME.

Thus, it will be pointed out how Prof. Forte demonstrates the continuous relevance of this tradition of economic thought that, in a somehow paradoxical way gains in importance as time goes by. Anyway, the main reason for the new importance of this economic theory is the increasing de-ideologisation of all spheres of social life after the end of socialism, which involves more and more people, leaders, states and social classes,.

In particular, we try to show the validity of Prof. Forte’s affirmation that «in the time of Einaudi (and still today) the term "social market economy" was and is used also to indicate something very different from both Röpke’s and Einaudi’s model; namely the "Rhenish" model (or neo-corporatist model). This is the prevailing economic system in Germany: market economy which is corrected by elements of concertation, Mitbestimmungand centralist interventions.

In order to understand the differences between both models, for Prof. Forte it is sufficient to consider the diverse consequences, which they cause for the relationship between the free labor unions and public policy. In Wilhelm Röpke’s, Walter Eucken’s and Ludwig Erhard’s view, but also according to other representatives of SME, the subsidiarity principle applies to all levels of the public sphere.It also concerns labor relationships. Therefore, bargaining is collocated on a decentralized basis, and does not conceive any notion of concertazione (“consultation”). Namely, the labor union is seen as autonomous, in a pluralist social context. On the contrary, in the neo-corporatist model, the labor union participates actively at the company's decisions and at those of the Government.