Globalization, digitalization and climate change greatly alter how we manage our economies and live together. The socio-economic inequalities increasing in almost all parts of the world since 1980 were massively laid bare during the 2008 global economic and financial crisis in particular. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated them further. Both crises reveal how hard the international community finds it to cushion the impact of social and economic imbalances. The fault line between winners and losers runs not only between the countries of the global north and the global south, it also slices right through the centre of the European Union and its member states. More and more citizens are losing faith in politics and feel at the mercy of economic forces. Instead of international cooperation, it is protectionist, economic-nationalist and populist voices that are gaining more and more influence.
Conceived as a bulwark against such economic imbalances, the welfare state was, for Helmut Schmidt, one of Europe’s most important cultural achievements in the 20th century. Following this lead, the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung addresses itself to the social effects of economic behaviour and their political implications: How can the state act as a social justice corrective between deregulation and redistribution? And how can Germany, as a democratic member of the international community, help to design a socially just economic system?
In the “Global markets and social justice” subprogramme we take as our theme the social consequences at national and international levels of economic policy decisions. Embedding them in their contemporary historical context, we analyse the interlocking of social and economic issues and the challenges that result. Here dialogue with business, politics and academia is just as important to us as integrating the perspectives of economically and socially marginalized groups. We look for answers and work towards crafting a fairer economy.