This book goes behind the success story of the federal Republic of Germany since the Second World War to examine the principles underpinning the so-called 'economic miracle'. West Germany's Economics Minister, Ludwig Erhard, maintained that his Social Market Economy worked because it consisted of sound economic principles applied with common sense and consistency. It was a serious attempt to harness the dynamic forces of free-market competition while avoiding the damaging social problems created by unfettered laissez-faire. A.J. Nicholls examines the intellectual origins and history of the concept of the Social Market Economy, and its implementation in the difficult years of post-war devastation and recovery in West Germany. He traces the struggle of liberal economists to assert their ideas in the unfavourable circumstances from 1933 to 1948, when they triumphed with Erhard's implementation of a policy of liberalization following currency reform. The book analyses the extent to which West Germany's economic success was due to Erhard's policies, and assesses his attempts to attain the goals of the social market up to 1963, when he became Federal Chancellor. The Social Market Economy remains the official policy of the Federal Republic today, and must face up to new challenges in the former German Democratic Republic. A.J. Nicholls's study makes an important contribution to our understanding of the historical dynamics of the German economy and the political culture of the Federal Republic.