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About us

Values

Social progress and liberty are closely inter-linked. Where there is no liberty to inquire and investigate, there can be no economic or social innovation. Liberty allows a society to be open-minded, to embrace change and to progress. In this spirit, the Progress Foundation promotes the development and spread of classical liberal ideas in line with its credo that the pillars of a free order are competition, private ownership, responsible self-reliance and social responsibility.

  1. Competition

    A market economy implies competition. It involves the free selection not only of goods and services but also of a profession and workplace. The resulting efficiency lays the foundation for prosperity. In the words of Friedrich August von Hayek, competition is a discovery procedure that gathers the knowledge dispersed throughout a society and rearranges it to provide perpetually new combinations. The beneficial effects of competition are evident not only in the goods markets; competition among cultural and political entities has similarly positive repercussions. Insofar competition is nothing else than a form of shaping the coexistence of free people.

  2. Private Ownership

    While competition is a relatively abstract concept, most people have an understanding of private ownership. It is the basis for the prudent use of limited resources and motivates owners to increase the “value” of their property. Even more important is the autonomy gained through free access to private property. A free society is almost inconceivable without the institution of private ownership. However, the free use of property is increasingly hampered by government regulations and a growing tax burden. An accommodative monetary policy is also detrimental to private property, whether it spurs inflation or results in financial repression.

  3. Responsible Self-Reliance

    Liberty must be paired with responsible self-reliance. Accepting responsibility must be anchored in values that transcend mere supply and demand. Since people react strongly to incentives, economy and society should be organized in a way that inspires and strengthens a sense of responsibility. Here the state plays a decisive role as guarantor of private property and citizens’ political rights, defender of competition and site of collective human endeavors. Nonetheless, in historical, logical and methodological terms, the primary actor is the individual. The state is comprised of individuals, whose first responsibility is to provide for themselves and their dependents. They also know best what is important to them and what needs they have. This is why a paternalistic state should be viewed with great skepticism. The state should only relieve its citizens of responsibility in absolutely exceptional cases.
  4. Social Responsibility

    Humans are social beings who typically cooperate with and care for one another. This is why caring for immediate family members and other associated individuals is a hallmark of a free society. At the same time, sociability and solidarity cannot and should not be decreed from above, but should grow naturally from below. Only voluntary solidarity may be considered as a moral virtue. Moreover, “solidarity” that is enforced by the state results in a repression of spontaneous individual solidarity. State welfare should thus play a subsidiary role and only apply when individual and voluntary social assistance falls short.

Activities

The activities of the Progress Foundation focus on the following areas:

  1. The foundation organizes lectures and panel discussions, mainly in the form of economic conferences. The format often pairs a German-speaking guest and an American guest, who speak on related topics. In this way, the events serve not only the transmission of academic findings, but also as a cultural bridge between the USA and Europe.

  2. Further, the foundation hosts workshops in which a selected number of participants discusses classical texts. These symposiums are designed to give inspiration to around 15 thought-leaders in the fields of academia, politics, economics and the media.
  3. The foundation also issues publications. Originally, texts from its various economic conferences were published in English as part of a series by its sister organization, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). Today, the Progress Foundation publishes its own material in a series which now comprises 15 volumes. Furthermore, it occasionally supports the publication of books that align with the purposes of the foundation.
  4. Finally, the Progress Foundation awards scholarships to students at Swiss universities – e.g. for participation in a liberal “summer school” – and supports research projects that are in line with the foundation’s purpose.

Board

Gerhard Schwarz

Gerhard Schwarz

President

* 1951, studies in economics in St. Gallen, Great Barrington (Massachusetts) and Cambridge (Massachusetts). From 1981, member of the editorial board of Neue Zürcher Zeitung; editor-in-chief from 1994 to 2010. 2010 – 2016 director of the classical liberal think tank Avenir Suisse, Zurich. 1989 – 2014 lecturer at the University of Zurich. Since 2016, publicist and consultant with his firm Schwarz auf Weiss.

Konrad Hummler

Konrad Hummler

Vice President

* 1953, studies in law in Zurich and economics in Rochester (New York). 1991 – 2012 partner at Wegelin & Co., Private Bankers. Member of numerous governing boards and foundation councils. Since 2013, partner at M1 AG, a private think tank for contemporary strategic issues.

Ivan Adamovich

Partner

* 1971, studies in economics in Fribourg, Barcelona, Jena and Berkeley (California). Active in wealth management since 2004; from 2009, member of the executive management of several banks. Since 2017, with Private Client Bank in Zurich; CEO as of 2018. Lecturer in applied economics at the University of Lucerne.

John Aldock

Partner

*1964 B.S . Northwestern University, 1967 J.D.University of Pennsylvania. Assistant US Attorney for the District of Columbia 1968-71. Joined the DC law firm of Shea & Gardner in 1971 and served as Chairman of the firm 1997-2004. After 2004 merger with Goodwin Procter, became Chairman of Goodwin’s Washington office and firm General Counsel. Selected by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s leading business litigation lawyers. Since April 2017, retired partner of Goodwin Proctor LLP.

Georg Vanberg

Georg Vanberg

Partner

* 1971, studies in economics and political science at William and Mary and the University of Rochester. 1999 – 2011 assistant and associate professor at various universities in the USA, then Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina. Since 2013, Professor of Political Science and Law at Duke University, where he has served as department chair since 2016. President of the Public Choice Society, 2016-2018.

AJanssen

Alexandra Janssen

Partner

1990, studied economics, banking and finance at the Universities of Zurich and Lausanne, PhD thesis on currency markets and monetary policy. Since 2014 member of the Board of Directors of the ECOFIN Group, since 2018 Managing Director of ECOFIN Portfolio Solutions AG, ac company, which provides asset management services for institutional and private investors. Lecturer in Financial Economics at the University of Zurich and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Swiss Economic Policy in Lucerne.

History

Harwood
Edward C. Harwood
19
73

The Progress Foundation was established in 1973 in Lugano by Edward C. Harwood (1900 – 1980), a charismatic figure who, unperturbed by the prevailing opinions of the day, promoted the vision of a free society and a free economy.

The stock market crash of 1929 in the newspapers
19
20s
-
19
30s

Economic foresight

Harwood was a graduate of West Point, the United States Military Academy, and served as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1920s. Soon thereafter, however, he developed a passionate interest in economic problems. He recognized before many others the detrimental effects of an expansive credit policy. In 1928 and 1929 he warned, in articles in financial journals, that the boom on the equity and commodity markets was attributable primarily to an excessive expansion in the money supply. Failure to stop the inflationary process would lead to a catastrophe. With these words, Harwood prophesied the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression.

“Useful Procedures of Inquiry” was published in 1973
19
33

Scientific contribution to the
control of the money supply

After this experience, Harwood founded the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) in 1933 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and armed with scientific approaches, devoted himself to opposing the use of an inflating money supply to finance growing government debt. He saw this practice as defrauding citizens whose savings were eaten up by inflation. In contrast, he considered gold and the gold backing of paper currency as a safeguard for the value of money and a defense against the state’s financing rapacity. The global economic crisis strengthened Harwood’s conviction that the general knowledge of economic correlations was inadequate. In his view, this was largely due to the methodology of economic science. Consequently, he intensified his focus on improving scientific research methods. In 1973, he and Rollo Handy of the Behavioral Research Council published the theoretical work “Useful procedures of inquiry”, which expanded upon the philosophical writings of Charles S. Peirce, John Dewey and Arthur F. Bentley.

Harwood was an admirer of the Swiss National Bank
19
70s
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19
80s

Stability-oriented Swiss monetary policy
as a benchmark

The Progress Foundation was established in Lugano on 31 January 1973, as stated in the commercial registry. However, as early as 1970, it operated as an independent legal entity, financially, personally and legally independent of its sister organization AIER. Harwood was a great admirer of Switzerland and the orientation of its monetary policy towards stability. The purpose of the Progress Foundation was to ascertain the beneficial and detrimental influences in the progress of civilization, and offer these insights directly to the public. The foundation’s capital of around CHF 8 million (2018) was raised in the 1970s and 1980s. It stems from donations by numerous, mainly American, citizens who believed in Harwood’s ideas and were able to increase their wealth by following his investment recommendations.

The Progress Foundation has been based in Zurich since 2002
Present

True to the foundation’s mission

In its early years, the foundation concentrated on awarding stipends to students at Swiss universities to fund their studies at the AIER. It also organized lectures and panel discussions in Ticino. It was only from the 1990s onward that Progress Foundation was able to fully dedicate itself to its scientific and economic mission as it was defined by its founder, Edward C. Harwood, almost 50 years ago. Over time, its activities migrated increasingly to Zurich, and the foundation moved its headquarters there in 2002.