Guest commentary – Homo oeconomicus: Only capitalism enables climate-friendly prosperity

Protest by climate protectors

What role does capitalism play?

(Foto: imago images /

Capitalism is having a hard time. For years he has been held responsible for everything bad in the world: for poverty, disease, environmental degradation. Only with its abolition could the end of humanity be prevented, believe quite a few in the climate protection movement.

The fact that, thanks to the spread of capitalism worldwide, hundreds of millions of people were able to lift themselves out of poverty in the past decades and that global inequality has decreased, is suppressed as well as the fact that the environment is all the better in a country, the higher the gross domestic product per capita of its population. You have to be able to afford environmental protection.

The legendary economist Joseph Schumpeter recognized 80 years ago that it was capitalism that had improved and democratized people’s lives: “Queen Elizabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not consist in making more silk stockings available to the queens, but in making them available to the factory girls in return for steadily less effort … The capitalist process does not increase the standard of living of the masses by chance, but by virtue of its mechanism. ” Capitalism is an efficiency machine that, by definition, can only work if it serves the masses.

This is not to say that there are no problems. Of course, it is right to use regulations to ensure that external costs – such as damage to the environment – become real costs. There is also much to be said for protecting the weak and redistributing them to a limited extent.

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But there are also problems that capitalism is wrongly accused of. The financial crisis was not an outgrowth of capitalism, but the result of incorrect regulation and, above all, incorrect central bank policy.

The author

Daniel Stelter is the founder of the discussion forum beyond the obvious, which specializes in strategy and macroeconomics, and is a management consultant and author. Every Sunday his podcast goes online at

(Photo: Robert Recker / Berlin)

The state monopoly of the central bank has increasingly led to an important principle of capitalism – the connection between return and risk – being broken.

Problematic role of central banks

In this context, the Bank for International Settlements speaks of an “asymmetrical reaction” by the central banks, which have lowered interest rates and created liquidity during every crisis without reversing this after the crisis. Speculation and indebtedness were rewarded. It is the central banks that helped create the debt problem that we are now facing.

Only capitalism creates “climate-friendly prosperity”. The efficiency machine will find ways to achieve both goals. The role of the state can only be that of the intelligent framework-setters. If we deviate from this principle, we will not only fail to achieve the goals, but also lose to other parts of the world.

More: Plea for a renewed capitalism.

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