BERNHOLZ, Peter (Biography)


February 18, 1929, Bad Salzuflen, Germany Current Position

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Economics, Center for Economics and Business (WWZ), Universitaet Basel, Switzerland, 1998.

Past Positions

Assistant at Universitaet Frankfurt and Universitaet Muenchen, 1956-1962; Dozent (Assistant Professor) at Universitaet Frankfurt, 1964-1966; Ordentlicher (Full) Professor, Technische Universitaet Berlin, 1966-1971; Ordentlicher Professor and Director, Institut fuer Sozialwissenschaften, Universitaet Basel, Switzerland, 1971-1988; Ordentlicher Professor and Director Institut fuer Volkswirtschaft, 1988-1997, Universitaet Basel, Switzerland.


Diplomvolkswirt, (Master’s Degree), Dr. rer. pol. Universitaet Marburg, 1953, 1955; Habilitation Universitaet Frankfurt, 1962.

Offices and Honors

Rockefeller Fellow at Harvard and Stanford Universities, 1963/64.

Guest professorships at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1969; Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 1974, 1978; Stanford University 1981; University of California, Los Angeles, 1986/87 and Irvine, 1998; Australian National University, Canberra, 1993.

President of European Public Choice Society, 1974-1980. Member of Wissenschaftlicher Beirat beim Bundesminister fuer Wirtschaft (Scientific Advisory Board of the German Minister of Economics), 1974.

Member of Macroeconomic Policy Group of the European Community, 1988-1990.

Member of the Board of the Mont Pelerin Society, 1992-1998.

Research Fellow, Center for Study of Public Choice,

George Mason University. Corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 1994.

Dr. rer. pol. h.c. Universitaet Konstanz, 2000.

Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg (Center for Advanced Studies) zu Berlin, 2000/2001.

Member of Verein fuer Socialpolitik (German Economics Association).

Listed in Who’s Who in Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists. First edition, Second edition, Third edition.

Principal Fields of Interest

Public Choice; Social Choice; Austrian Capital Theory; Monetary History, Theory and Political Economy; International Relations; Totalitarianism.

Selected Publications


1. Aussenpolitik und internationale Wirtschaftsbeziehungen (Foreign Policy and International Economic Relations).

Frankfurter wissenschaftliche Beitraege. (Klostermann, 1966).

2. Waehrungskrisen und Waehrungsordnung (Currency Crises and International Monetary Regime) (Hoffmann und Campe, 1974).

3. Grundlagen der Politischen Oekonomie (Foundations ofPolitical Economy), two vol., Third, revised edition (with F. Breyer) (J.C.B. Mohr, 1993/94). Russian and Ukrainian Editions in two vols. (Kiel: Lybid, 1998 and 1997).

4. Flexible Exchange Rates in Historical Perspectives, Princeton Studies in International Finances No. 49, International Finance Section, Dept. of Economics (Princeton University, 1982).

5. The International Game of Power.

6. Economic Imperialism. The Economic Method Applied Outside the Field of Economics (Paragon House,1986) (edited, with G. Radnitzky).

7. Political Competition, Innovation and Growth. A Historical Analysis. (Springer, 1998) (edited, with M.E. Streit and R. Vaubel).


1. "Economic Policies in a Democracy." Kyklos, 19: 1966.

2. "Logrolling, arrow-paradox and decision rules. A generalization." Kyklos, 27(1):1974.

3. "A general two-period neo-Austrian model of capital."Journal of Economic Theory, 17:1978 (twith M. Faber and W. Reiss); reprinted in Malte Faber (ed.) Studies in Austrian Capital Theory, Investment and Time (Springer, 1986).

4. "A general social dilemma: profitable exchange and intransitive preferences." Zeitschrift fur Nationalokonomie, 40:1980.

5. "Externalities as a necessary condition for cyclical social preferences." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 47(4):1982.

6. "A general constitutional possibility theorem." Public Choice, 51:1986; reprinted in G. Radnitzky and P. Bernholz (eds.) Economic Imperialism (Paragon House, 1986).

7. "Growth of government, economic growth and individual freedom." Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 142(4):1986.

8. "The implementation and maintenance of a monetary constitution." The Cato Journal 6(2): 1986, reprinted in James A. Dorn and Anna J. Schwartz (eds.) The Search for Stable Money (University of Chicago Press,


9. "The importance of reorganizing money, credit, and banking when decentralizing economic decision-making." Economic Reform in China: Problems and Prospects (edited by James A. Dorn and Wang XI) (University of Chicago Press, 1990).

10. "Currency competition, inflation, Gresham’s Law and exchange rate." (edited by Pierre L. Siklos) Great Inflations of the 20th Century. Theories, Policies and Evidence (Edward Elgar publishing, 1995).

11. "The Bundesbank and the process of European monetary integration." Fifty Years of the Deutsche Mark. Central Bank and the Currency in Germany since 1948 (edited by Deutsche Bundesbank) (Oxford University Press, 1999).

12. "The generalized Coase theorem and separable individual preferences: an extension." European Journal of Political Economy, 15:1999.

13. "Ideocracy and totalitarianism: a formal analysis incorporating ideology." Public Choice, 108: 2001.

Principal Contributions

Early interest in intertemporal problems encouraged work on Austrian capital and monetary theory. The former was reformulated and extended and shown that neo-classical capital theory is a special case covered by it. In public choice theory it was demonstrated that imperfect information of voters, economic growth, and interest groups bring about the support of stagnating industries. In social choice it was shown that logrolling benefiting majorities implies cyclical social preferences. A proof followed which generalized this result to all contracts on different issues agreed on by different subsets of decentralized society having the right to decide issues. Finally, it could be shown that the problems of the resulting cyclical social preferences can be solved by an adequate assignment of rights or by binding contracts if no transaction costs are present.

In monetary economics the reasons of the demand for paper money, the characteristics of inflations and the behavior of exchange rates (overshooting) was studied by using historical evidence. It was shown under which economic and political conditions stable monetary regimes can emerge and be maintained.

The study of the transition of political economic regimes to different regimes revealed the importance of military and political competition among states. Related to this was an effort to study the long-term political tendencies in democracies to intervene into the market economy, and studies of totalitarian regimes and of the workings of the international political system.

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