On the 7th of January 2009 the president of the ZEW, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Franz turned 65. This was duly celebrated in the "Rittersaal" (chevalliers' hall) of the Mannheim Castle on the 5th of February. The following day, on the 6th of February, his former scholars and colleagues organised a research colloquium at the Centre for European Economic Research, as an acedemic honour for Wolfgang Franz.

To open the ceremony on the 5th of February, the director for business and administration at the ZEW, Thomas Kohl, welcomed around 220 guests from the fields of politics, economics, research and the media, who followed the invitation of the ZEW. He thanked Wolfgang Franz for the excellent collaboration and his major contributions to the ZEW. He also congratulated him again in the name of the staff of the research institute.

The minister of sciences, research and the arts of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Prof. Dr. Peter Frankenberg, congratulated Wolfgang Franz in the name of the whole state of Baden-Württemberg and especially of Günther Oettinger, head of the state government. He further said he was pleased that Franz spent a significant part of his academic life in

Baden-Württemberg and he hoped that this will also be true for the future. Especially in the times of an economic and financial crisis, he stated, a source of competent advice in the field of economic policy was now more important than ever and Franz, as well as the ZEW were among the major advisors in Germany. "Your word is valuable", said the minister. In particular, Frankenberg stressed Franz’s contributions to the further expansion of the ZEW. He took over the leadership in 1997 and under his aegis it developed into one of Germany’s leading research institutes. For the future he wished the ZEW president to never run out of bright ideas, because: "There is still much work ahead of you and us."

Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn held a testimonial lecture named "Teller oder Tank" (Meal or Fuel). He pointed out that switching from fossil fuel to bio fuel did not contribute to the solution of climate issues. In contrast, increasing the use of bio fuels would lead to competition between agricultural products as aliment and as a base for the production of bio fuels. With every increase of the use of bio fuels, he stated, this competition was increased. If all traditional fuels were substituted by bio fuels, all of the available cultivable land would be needed to produce an adequate amount of bio fuels. Therefore this would not solve any problems. In the view of imminent hunger protests and severe crises in the third world as a result of food shortage caused by an increased production of bio fuels using biomass, Sinn regards the combination of the oil market and the agricultural market as a great danger for future developments. "The more the prices for oil increase, the more attractive it gets for farmers to grow biomass, which is more profitable than food production." In Sinn’s interpretation, this opens a whole new chapter for history, taking the impending crises and conflicts into account.

In a laudatory speech, Prof. em. Dr. Hans Jürgen Ramser from the University of Konstanz especially stressed the academic commitment of Wolfgang Franz, his central area of research being macroeconomics, labour market research and empirical economic research. He emphasised Franz’s vast amount of publications on these topics, his work in the field of labour market research in cooperation with NAIRU as well as his research concerning the Phillips curve. Inflexibilities on the labour market and the reduction of rigidities had also always been of great interest to Franz and he had regularly provided economics with much discussed articles and publications. Ramser pointed out, that education has been as important to Wolfgang Franz as research itself and stressed his commitment to young academics. Franz’s speeches on the findings of the German Council of Economic Experts had received broad interest among the students at the University of Konstanz. However, Franz had not only committed himself to research and to the qualification of young academics, his achievements as president of the ZEW were also to be acknowledged. He continued the work of Heinz König - who saw the ideal candidate for the job in Wolfgang Franz - significantly extended the institute and gave it a national and international reputation. This was also, Ramser stated, certainly due to the work of outstanding staff, but without a motivating director this could have hardly been possible.

At the end of the event, which was accompanied by the band "la FUSO" from the Pop Academy Baden-Württemberg, Wolfgang Franz thanked all the speakers, guests and his staff. He especially stressed that the success of the ZEW was above all the result of the work of the staff and the collaboration within the management. "Kohl and I are an unbeatable team, we always stand as a unit," Franz described the trustful collaboration with the director for business and administration at the ZEW.




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