Institute of Economic Affairs

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA ) is the UK's oldest free market think tank. It was founded by Antony Fisher in 1955 and his self- description reads: "UK's original free -market think- tank".


Significant for the founding of the IEA was a meeting of Antony Fisher with the economist Friedrich August von Hayek in 1947 at the LSE. Fisher had read a summary of Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom and wanted to contribute to the dissemination of ideas of Hayek. At this meeting, Hayek Fisher advised on a political career. Instead, he suggested the establishment of a research institute, the intellectuals should provide at universities and in journalism with studies on economic theory and its practical applications. During a stay in the U.S. visited Fisher 1952, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE ), which became the model for his creation of a think tank. In 1955 he met the politician and businessman Oliver Smedley. Supported by the Investment Company and General Management Services ( IGMS ) Fisher founded on 9 November in London, the Institute of Economic Affairs. The first director of the IEA was from 1956, the economist and journalist Ralph Harris. Deputy Director was the economist Arthur Seldon, whose remit was the publication activities of the Institute.


The IEA taught in 1959 to host a meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS ) in Oxford from. There konstatierten Harris and Seldon, that after the Second World War, the idea of ​​the free market have no acceptance. Here lies the task of the IEA. That goal is to establish a free society and to maintain, set three fundamental requirements ahead: First, the idea of a market economy would have to be widely accepted, secondly, would compensate for those interests to be found that were affected in the transformation of a controlled economy and thirdly would have arrangements be taken to make any claim on the policy for protection from the consequences of the changes meaningless. The IEA dealt primarily with the first point, ie with the change in the intellectual climate. The specific requirements Harris and Seldon included: liberalization of foreign and foreign exchange trade, abolition of rationing, the end of the labor allocation, release of rents, the fight against restrictions on competition, reversal of nationalization, own contribution to the National Health Service, licensing of private television channel and farewell of the policy of cheap money.

Publication activity

Many authors support the IEA in its publications measures politically not appeared at the time of publication enforceable, but found from the 1980 broad consensus. Seldon argued in 1957 in Pensions in a Free Society for the gradual transition from one state to a privately organized pension system. Georg Tugendhat held in 1963 in Fuel Freedom for the British coal industry uneconomic and called for the closure of 350 mines. Michael Canes, 1966 compared Telephones - Public or Private? the British to the U.S. phone system and came to the conclusion that the quality of service of the British system could be improved by privatizing. Through its membership in the MPS Seldon was able to gain internationally recognized economists as guest authors, such as Friedrich August von Hayek, Gottfried Haberler, James M. Buchanan and Milton Friedman. The most important and controversial publications of the IEA were in the two subject areas price stability and trade unions. In The Counter- Revolution in Monetary Theory ( 1970), Friedman argued against Keynesianism. A famous quote from this article is: "Inflation is always and elsewhere a monetary phenomenon [ ... ] ". In A Tiger by the Tail (1972) and Unemployment and the Unions ( 1980) Hayek sat critical look at the position of the trade unions.


The economist Milton Friedman is of the opinion that it would not have existed without the IEA, " Thatcherite revolution " in the UK.

For the social scientist Dieter Plehwe and Bernhard Walpen the IEA can be considered as a prototype of neoliberal think tanks.

The contemporary historian Dominik Geppert in the IEA sees the most important journalistic pioneer of the New Right in Britain.