Hans-Werner Sinn

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Hans-Werner Sinn
Hans Werner Sinn.png
Born (1948-03-07) March 7, 1948 (age 66)
Brake, Westphalia
Nationality German
Institution Ifo Institute for Economic Research
Field Macroeconomics
School/tradition Ordoliberalism
Alma mater University of Mannheim
University of Münster
Information at IDEAS/RePEc

Hans-Werner Sinn (born March 7, 1948) is a German economist and President of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research.

Education and career[edit]

After studying economics at the University of Münster from 1967 to 1972 and receiving his doctorate from the University of Mannheim in 1978, Sinn was awarded the venia legendi in 1983, also from the University of Mannheim.

Since 1984 Sinn has been full professor in the faculty of economics at the University of Munich (LMU), first holding the chair for economics and insurance, and from 1994 the chair for economics and public finance. During leaves of absence from Mannheim and Munich he held visiting professorships (1978/79 and 1984/85) at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. During sabbaticals he was also visiting researcher at the London School of Economics, as well as at Bergen, Stanford, Princeton and Jerusalem Universities. Since 1988 he has been honorary professor of the University of Vienna, where he has given many lectures. In 2008 he was knighted with the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, and in 2013 he was awarded the Ludwig Erhard Prize by the Ludwig-Erhard Foundation. Since February 1, 1999 Sinn has been president of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. The Leibniz Association, the umbrella organization for Germany's federally funded research institutions, extolled his turnaround of Ifo after having taken over the presidency at a highly critical juncture in the institute’s history, bringing it back to a level of “very good, in some cases even excellent, research output” and turning it into "one of Europe's leading economic research institutes."[1] In 2006 he became president of the International Institute of Public Finance, a position he helduntil 2009. From 1997 to 2000 Sinn headed the Verein für Socialpolitik, the association of German-speaking economists. In 2013 he was awarded a further honorary doctorate, this time by the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

Sinn is fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the first German-speaking economist to deliver the Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures[2] in Helsinki (1999) and the Tinbergen Lectures in Amsterdam (2004).[3]

In the 2006 Handelsblatt ranking of German economists (Ökonomen-Ranking VWL), based on cross citations of SSCI papers in SSCI journals, Sinn ranked fourth.[4] In a study by Ursprung and Zimmer,[5] based on SSCI citations per author of the full oeuvre, Sinn ranked second of all German economists, after Nobel laureate Reinhard Selten. In the RePEc database he is the German economist most frequently quoted in academic works.[6] In a survey conducted by the Financial Times Deutschland among more than 550 German economic experts, Sinn was one of the two professors in Germany (the other was Herbert Giersch) to attract a large following of academic pupils, and in terms of political influence he ranked only behind Bert Rürup at the top of the list of German professors.[7] The British newspaper The Independent nominated him as one of the “ten people who changed the world” in 2011.[8] In its latest evaluation of the Ifo Institute, the Leibniz Association praised Sinn as one of “Germany’s most renowned economists, who constantly succeeds in bringing the most variedeconomic issues to public debate”.[9]

Sinn has published 85 scholarly articles in refereed journals, has written numerous newspaper articles and given many newspaper interviews. In addition he has made longer contributions for radio and television and has made many talk-show appearances. More than twenty articles on his person have been published in German and foreign newspapers.[10] His 2003 book "Ist Deutschland noch zu retten?" has stimulated policy discussion in Germany and influenced the Agenda 2010 reforms. With more than 100,000 copies in print, the book is one of the most popular public policy monograph in recent history. It has also been published in English as "Can Germany be Saved?" by MIT Press in 2007. As a reaction to the criticism of his book in the media, Sinn wrote a follow-up book in 2005, "Die Basarökonomie". His book the Green Paradox and his prior research on this topic triggered a worldwide debate, as did Sinn's research on Target balances, which is summarised in his book Die Target Falle. Sinn's book Casino Capitalism was named as one of the 50 best economics books of all time by Handelsblatt.

Since 1989 Sinn has served on the Advisory Council of the German Ministry of Economics, and represented the Free State of Bavaria on the Board of Supervisors of HypoVereinsbank for ten years.[11]

Sinn lives with his wife near Munich. They have three adult children.

Research[edit]

With the exception of his diploma dissertation, also published in a journal, on the Marxian Law of the tendential decline of the rate of profit,[12] Sinn dealt in his early years particularly with economic risk theory. He made a name for himself with his dissertation "Ökonomische Entscheidungen bei Ungewissheit" (1980), published in English as "Economic Decisions under Uncertainty" (1983), with numerous spin-off articles. Subsequent work focused on the axiomatic basis of mean-variance analysis, on the foundation of the principle of insufficient reason, on the psychological foundation of risk preference functions and on the analysis of risk decisions under limited liability, which he subsequently developed into a theory of bank regulation in his Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures, "The New Systems Competition". In 2003, in the journal Finanzarchiv, he touched off an academic debate on banking regulation in which he was criticised by liberal economists for his favouring of stronger banking regulation to prevent excessive risk-taking. With his dissertation in 1977 on excess risk propensity under liability restrictions, Sinn, in the opinion of Martin Hellwig, preceded the pioneering analysis of Stiglitz and Weiss of 1981.[13] His work in this area was published as a reprint volume in 2008. On the basis of his research on risk theory, Sinn developed his influential theory of the insurer state, in which he interpreted the redistributing activity of the state via the tax-transfer system as insurance protection, showing that this activity can have a favourable influence on people's willingness to take risks. His work on the Theory of the Welfare State in 1995 is considered an important contribution on the legitimacy of state redistribution activity.[14]

Sinn has published numerous studies on the theory of economic cycles, environmental economics, foreign trade issues, including ones on the so-called asset approach and on the micro foundations of a model of temporary general equilibrium.

Problems of longer-term economic growth were also on his research agenda. Sinn was the first economist to formulate the central-planning model of economic growth in the tradition of Robert Solow as a general equilibrium model with decentrally optimizing agents and market clearing conditions in an article published in German in 1980 and two years later in English, and before similar work by Chamley in 1981 and Abel and Blanchard in 1983.[15][16][17][18]

His study on the stimulating effects of accelerated depreciation and the various components of capital income taxation on intertemporal, international and intersectoral allocation is still considered one of the standard works in this field.[19]

Sinn contributed to the discussion on German pension reform with his article "Pension Reform and Demographic Crisis. Why a Funded System is Needed and Why it is Not Needed" published in 2000.[20] Here, with the help of present-value equivalents, he showed that the low returns from statutory pension insurance based on the pay-as-you-go method has only an apparent efficiency disadvantage in comparison to a capitally funded procedure. This finding was further developed in a number of subsequent studies.

Recently Sinn has turned to the problem of the global climate in an article "Public Policies against Global Warming" and in his book "Das grüne Paradoxon" ((the English version, TheGreen Paradox, was published by MIT Press in 2012). In these studies Sinn developed a supply-side theory of climate change by linking climate-theory approaches with the theory of exhaustible natural resources. The Green paradox that he has identified states that environmental policies that over time promote substitute technologies with increasing intensity (and in the process lower the prices for fossil fuels relative to the values they otherwise would have obtained) will induce the resource suppliers to accelerate extraction, thus contributing to global warming.

Economic policy positions[edit]

With regard to long-term structural problems, Sinn is a proponent of supply-side positions. In 2005 he was one of the first German economists to sign the "Hamburger Appell", which argued for fundamental market-economy reforms and rejected demand-oriented concepts of economic policy. At the same time Sinn employs the instruments of Keynesian demand theory for his analyses of economic activity. With his studies on pension insurance, in which he argued for partial capital funding, as well as by providing direct advice to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Germany) (through CES, his university institute) and by contributing to an expertise on pensions for the Ministry of Economics, Sinn had a hand in the introduction of the "Riester-Rente", a privately financed pension scheme support by the German government in the form of grants and tax deductions.

In 2003 he saw Germany's attractiveness as an investment location endangered by too high labour costs and called for structural reforms of the labour market. These include escape clauses for collective wage agreements, the abolition of dismissal protection laws and longer working hours without wage compensation. He has also criticised the employment-restricting effects of the German wage replacement system. As an alternative he developed in 2002 the model of activating social welfare. His policy recommendations influenced the Agenda 2010 reforms. According to Prof. Wolfgang Wiegard, then member of the Council of Economic Advisors, his work was the blueprint for the Agenda 2010 reforms.[21]

Sinn has called the German economy a bazaar economy since the share of input from abroad in German industrial production is on the increase. At the same time he points out that this is not to be equated with a breaking off of value added in exports. Instead Germany has decimated its domestic sector via excessive wage increases and has driven excess amounts of capital and skilled labour into the labour and knowledge-intensive export sectors, where fewer less-skilled workers can be employed as have been set free in the domestic sectors. At the expense of the domestic sectors, Germany has inflated value added in exports too strongly and at the same time has placed too much emphasis on the final stages of production. As a result a pathological export boom occurred.

The world economy crisis is traced back by Sinn to an abuse of liability limitation by American investment banks. The lack of capital reserve requirements gave these banks the possibility to pursue their business with inadequate capital reserves and encouraged them to gamble. In addition the lack of personal liability for homeowners created in a similar way an exaggerated willingness to take risks and thus caused the American real-estate crisis. To correct this situation Sinn has called for considerably higher capital reserve requirements, the balancing of offshore business and a return to the accounting principle of the lower of cost of the German Commercial Code (HGB).[22]

Against the background of the world economic crisis, Sinn advocates a return to the tradition of ordoliberalism and of ordoliberal economists like Walter Eucken, Alfred Müller-Armack, Alexander Rüstow, and Ludwig Erhard, who argued a strong state should provide a framework or economic order inside which market forces and free market competition can develop.[23] Markets do not regulate themselves (Selbstregulierung), but are capable of self-controlled processes (Selbststeuerung) inside an institutional framework provided by the state.[24]

Sinn accuses the Greens of pursuing environmental protection policies with unsuitable means and of ignoring the economic laws of the European emissions trading system as well as the worldwide market for fossil fuel. In his book, The Green Paradox, he argues for including all countries of the world in a post-Kyoto, joint emissions trading system. He also favours employing a withholding tax on the yields of financial investments to curb the desire of the resource providers to extract more fossil fuels.

During the 10th Munich Economic Summit, Sinn alleged that the ECB had been conducting what he termed a “stealth bailout” of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain for the past three years, financing capital flight and/or current account deficits by allowing them to accumulate massive liabilities in their TARGET2 accounts.[25] He subsequently published his views in the press[26][27] and specialized websites,[28][29] followed by a working paper that analyzed the issue in detail.[30] He also discussed Germany's capital exports since the introduction of the euro and the prospects such exports could face if the euro crisis continues and leads to the introduction of Eurobonds, which he opposes.[31] While drawing much acclaim for his focusing on Target2 imbalances, the conclusions he draws have been fiercely opposed by other economists.[32][33]

Controversy[edit]

In July, 2012, Sinn was one of the eventually more than 270 signatories of an open letter[34] written by Walter Krämer of the Technische Universität Dortmund against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Brussels agreement on direct recapitalization for ailing European banks. Economics professors Frank Heinemann of Berlin and Gerhard Illing of Munich drafted a public answer, arguing that a “banking union” in the sense of common supervision was, in fact, critical to saving the euro, but they also objected to bank recapitalisation using the taxpayers' money. This letter also attracted more than 200 signatories from the banking and the academic communities. The "momentous tiff", as the newspaper The Economist dubbed it, has in the meantime become more nuanced, with Prof. Krämer and Sinn publishing a more muted version of his letter, in which he endorsed a banking union based on the bail-in principle. He joined Heinemann and Krämer in publishing a joint appeal on the issue in Plenum der Ökonomen, an internet forum of German professional economists.[35]

Public influence[edit]

According to a poll conducted jointly by the Financial Times Deutschland and the Verein für Socialpolitik (the German economics association) among 550 German economics experts in 2006, “only two representatives of our profession exert an appreciable influence on policymaking: Bert Rürup and Hans-Werner Sinn”.[36] A study in 2007 placed Sinn, in terms of number of citations in scientific journals, second to German Nobel laureate Reinhard Selten.[37] The British newspaper The Independent named Sinn among the ten most important people who changed the world in 2011.[38] The German Business weekly WirtschaftsWoche ranked Sinn 62 among the 100 most powerful people in Germany, and placed him in the No. 1 position among the “Most Important Economists” in the country.[39] In 2012, he was included in the 50 Most Influential list of Bloomberg Markets Magazine. In 2013, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung placed Sinn first on their list of economist with most political influence.[40]

Affiliations[edit]

  • President of the International Institute of Public Finance (2006–2009)
  • European Economic Advisory Group at CESifo (since 2001)
  • North-Rhine Westphalian Academy of Sciences (since 2001)
  • Bavarian Academy of Sciences, historical-philosophical division (since 1996)
  • National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Cambridge, Massachusetts, Research Associate
  • Member of the Advisory Council of the German Ministry of Economics (since 1989)

Awards[edit]

  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Helsinki (2011)
  • Gustav Stolper Prize of Verein für Socialpolitik (2008)
  • Europe Prize of University of Maastricht (2008)
  • Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art (2008)
  • The World Economy Annual Lecture, University of Nottingham (2005)
  • German Federal Cross of Merit, first class (2005)
  • CORINE International Book Prize (2004)
  • Tinbergen Lectures, Royal Netherlands Economic Association (2004)
  • Economics Book Prize of the Financial Times Deutschland and getAbstract AG (2003)
  • Honorary Award of the Wirtschaftsbeirates der Union e. V. (2003)
  • Stevenson Lectures on Citizenship, University of Glasgow (2000)
  • Distinguished Scholar, Atlantic Economic Society (2000)
  • German Federal Cross of Merit, on ribbon, (1999)
  • Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures, University of Helsinki (1999)
  • Honorary doctorate (Dr. rer. pol. h.c.), University of Magdeburg (1999)
  • Special Prize of the Herbert Quandt Foundation (1997)
  • Honorary Professorship, University of Vienna (1988)
  • First Prize of the University of Mannheim for Habilitation dissertation (1984, Schitag Foundation)
  • First Prize of the University of Mannheim for doctoral dissertation (1979, Rheinische Hypothekenbank Foundation)
  • Top 500 Economists in the World according to IDEAS/RePEc

Selected publications[edit]

  • Sinn, Hans-Werner (1980). "A Rehabilitation of the Principle of Insufficient Reason". Quarterly Journal of Economics (The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 94, No. 3) 94 (3): 493–506. doi:10.2307/1884581. JSTOR 1884581. 
  • "Stock–dependent Extraction Costs and the Technological Efficiency of Resource Depletion". Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts– und Sozialwissenschaften 101: 507–517. 1981. 
  • Hans-Werner Sinn. (1983). Economic Decisions under Uncertainty. Amsterdam: North-Holland. ISBN 0-444-86387-7. 
  • Sinn, Hans-Werner (1984). "Common Property Resources, Storage Facilities and Ownership Structures: A Cournot Model of the Oil Market". Economica (Economica, Vol. 51, No. 203) 51 (203): 235–252. doi:10.2307/2554543. JSTOR 2554543. 
  • Hans-Werner Sinn. (1987). Capital Income Taxation and Resource Allocation. Amsterdam: North Holland. ISBN 0-444-70208-3. 
  • Howitt; Howitt, P. (1989). "Gradual Reforms of Capital Income Taxation". American Economic Review (The American Economic Review, Vol. 79, No. 1) 79 (1): 106–124. JSTOR 1804777. 
  • Gerlinde Sinn, Hans-Werner Sinn ; translated by Juli Irving-Lessmann.; Sinn, Gerlinde (1992). Jumpstart. The Economic Unification of Germany. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19327-2. 
  • Sinn, Hans-Werner (1995). "A Theory of the Welfare State". Scandinavian Journal of Economics (The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Vol. 97, No. 4) 97 (4): 495–526. doi:10.2307/3440540. JSTOR 3440540. 
  • Sinn, Hans-Werner (February 1999). "Pension Reform and Demographic Crisis: Why a Funded System is Needed and Why it is not Needed". CESifo Working Paper Series (195). 
  • Sinn, H (1997). "The Selection Principle and Market Failure in Systems Competition". Journal of Public Economics 66 (2): 247–274. doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(97)00043-1. 
  • Hans-Werner Sinn (2003). The New Systems Competition. Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-21952-8. 
  • Sinn, H (2004). "The Pay–as–you–go Pension System as a Fertility Insurance and Enforcement Device". Journal of Public Economics 88 (7–8): 1335–1357. doi:10.1016/S0047-2727(03)00015-X. 
  • Hans-Werner Sinn (2005). Die Basar–Ökonomie. Berlin: Econ. ISBN 3-430-18536-X. 
  • Hans-Werner Sinn. (2007). Can Germany Be Saved? The Malaise of the World's First Welfare State. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19558-5. 
  • Das grüne Paradoxon: Plädoyer für eine illusionsfreie Klimapolitik. Berlin: Econ. 2008. ISBN 3-430-20062-8. 
  • Risk Taking, Limited Liability, and the Banking Crisis. Selected Reprints. Munich: Ifo Institute. 2008. ISBN 3-88512-482-3. 
  • Kasino-Kapitalismus. Wie es zur Finanzkrise kam, und was jetzt zu tun ist. Berlin: Econ. 2009. ISBN 3-430-20084-9. 
  • Casino Capitalism. How the Financial Crisis Came about and What Needs to Be Done Now. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010. p. 400. 
  • The Green Paradox. Cambridge, Mass.: forthcoming with MIT Press. 2011. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Statement of the Leibniz Association of German Research Institutes on the Ifo Institute
  2. ^ Yrjö Jahnsson Lectures
  3. ^ List of Tinbergen Lectures
  4. ^ http://www.handelsblatt.com October 1, 2006
  5. ^ Ursprung, Heinrich W.; Zimmer, Markus (2007). "Who is the 'Platz-Hirsch' of the German Economics Profession? A Citation Analysis". Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik 227 (2). 
  6. ^ The RePEC Ranking of German Economist Working in Germany The list was compiled with the information available on the RePEc website on October 1, 2006.
  7. ^ Fricke, Thomas (2006-05-10). "Was Ökonomen wirklich wollen". Financial Times Deutschland. 
  8. ^ „Ten people who changed the world: Hans-Werner Sinn, German economist who made sense of the financial crisis“ The Independent, 31. December 2011.
  9. ^ Leibniz Association, Statement on the Ifo Institute, 17 July 2013, p. 3
  10. ^ CV with list of publications
  11. ^ Hypovereinsbank: Gremien und Governance
  12. ^ Das Marxsche Gesetz des tendenziellen Falls der Profitrate, Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft 131, 1975, S. 646–696 [1]
  13. ^ Stiglitz, Joseph E.; Weiss, Andrew (1981). "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information". American Economic Review 71 (3): 393–410. JSTOR 1802787.  edit
  14. ^ In the appraisal of R. Boadway and M. Keen in their article "Redistribution" in: A. B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), 2000. Handbook of Income Distribution, Elsevier.
  15. ^ Abel, Andrew B.; Blanchard, Olivier J. (1983). "An Intertemporal Model of Saving and Investment". Econometrica (Econometrica, Vol. 51, No. 3) 51 (3): 675–692. doi:10.2307/1912153. JSTOR 1912153. 
  16. ^ Chamley, Christophe (1981). "The Welfare Cost of Capital Income Taxation in a Growing Economy". Journal of Political Economy 89 (3): 468–496. doi:10.1086/260981. 
  17. ^ Sinn, Hans-Werner (1980). "Besteuerung, Wachstum und Ressourcenabbau. Ein allgemeiner Gleichgewichtsansatz". In Siebert, H. Erschöpfbare Ressourcen. Papers & Proceedings of the German Economic Association. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot. pp. 499–528. 
  18. ^ Sinn, Hans-Werner (1982). "Taxation, Growth, and Resource Extraction: A General Equilibrium Approach". European Economic Review 19 (2): 357–386. doi:10.1016/S0014-2921(82)80060-3. 
  19. ^ Capital Income Taxation and Resource Allocation, North Holland: Amsterdam, New York, Oxford and Tokyo 1987.
  20. ^ Sinn, Hans-Werner (February 1999). "Pension Reform and Demographic Crisis: Why a Funded System is Needed and Why it is not Needed". CESifo Working Paper Series (195). 
  21. ^ Unpublished Letter to Der Spiegel by Prof. Wolfgang Wiegard, http://www.cesifo-group.de/de/ifoHome/presse/Media-Coverage/deutsch/2012/ifo_Presse_Echo_2012_Jul_Sep/medienecho_echo-spiegel-16-07-2012.html (at bottom of page).
  22. ^ Risk Taking, Limited Liability, and the Banking Crisis. Selected Reprints by Hans-Werner Sinn.
  23. ^ Sinn, Kasino-Kapitalismus 2009, p. 177
  24. ^ Sinn 2009, p. 175
  25. ^ See video of his presentation at http://www.munich-economic-summit.com
  26. ^ Die riskante Kreditersatzpolitik der EZB, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 May.
  27. ^ Tickende Zeitbombe, Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 4, 2011.
  28. ^ The ECB's Stealth Bailout, VoxEU.org
  29. ^ On and Off Target, VoxEU.org
  30. ^ Target Loans, Current Account Balances and Capital Flows: The ECB’s Rescue Facility,CESifo Working Paper No. 3500, 24 June 2011
  31. ^ Germany's Capital Exports under the Euro, VoxEU.org
  32. ^ Prof. Whelan, Karl: Professor Sinn misses the target, University College Dublin, 9 June 2011
  33. ^ Storbeck, Olaf: The stealth bailout that doesn’t exist: debunking Hans-Werner Sinn. g June 2011
  34. ^ "German Economists in a Momentous Tiff", The Economist, August 4, 2012.
  35. ^ Plenum der Ökonomen, http://www.wiso.uni-hamburg.de/lucke/?p=818
  36. ^ "Was Ökonomen wirklich wollen". Financial Times Deutschland. 10 May 2006. 
  37. ^ Ursprung, Heinrich W.; Zimmer, Markus (2007). "Who is the 'Platz-Hirsch' of the German Economics Profession? A Citation Analysis". Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik (Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius) 227 (2). 
  38. ^ “Ten people who changed the world: Hans-Werner Sinn, German economist who made sense of the financial crisis” The Independent, 31 December 2011
  39. ^ “Die wichtigsten Wirtschaftswissenschaftler” WirtschaftsWoche, 23 December 2011, No. 52, p. 50 & 53
  40. ^ Die einflussreichsten Ökonomen in der Politik

External links[edit]