History of CES
The first organisation of economists in our territory was Czech National Economic Society, founded in 1896 and functioning until late 1930s. At the beginning of 1960s, Czechoslovak Economic Society was established. Its activity was restored in the early 1990s after the period of slowed-down activity at the time of normalization. Since 1993, its successor has been Czech Economic Society.
Presidents of Czechoslovak (Czech) Economic Society
- Ota Šik (1962-1968)
Karel Kouba (1968-1970)
Vladimír Wacker (1970-1990)
Karel Dyba (1990-1995)
Pavel Kysilka (1995-1999)
Zdeněk Tůma (1999-2001)
Jan Frait (2001-2004)
Pavel Mertlík (2004-2006)
Tomáš Holub (2006-2008)
Luboš Komárek (2008-2010)
Michal Skořepa (2010-2012)
Petr Jakubík (2012-2014)
Roman Horváth (2014-2016)
Martin Macháček (2016-2018)
Kamil Galuščák (2018-2020)
Czech National Economic Society
Czech National Economic Society, the predecessor of CES, was founded at the initiative of the National Economy Congress which took place on 13 October 1895 in Prague, mainly at the request of delegates from Moravia, where the dominance of the German economic element was stronger than in Bohemia. The Vienna's Ministry of Interior rejected the first statutes because of formal shortcomings and it did not even comment on the second ones in the statutory time period, which meant the statutes‘ approval, but on the other hand it was an expression of ignorance of the efforts aimed at the economic advancement of our nation, as “Obzor národohospodářský” wrote in issue No. 5/1896.
However, the congress itself was not professionally prepared, the negotiations were chaotic, but anyway, hopes were put into the formation of a sovereign authority, supreme and central organizer of Czech business, industrial and commercial activities. At that time, it was very difficult to bring the motto "pares cum paribus" to life in the area of national economy. Professor Josef Kaizl talked about this, which many participants of the congress disagreed with; he pointed to the contradiction of national and economic principles. He stated that the national principle, which can do wonders in the political race (e.g. National Theatre, Central School Association), encounters insurmountable difficulties in the field of economics. Who willingly gives thousands to charity national purposes, may not be easily convinced to buy goods of the same or even worse quality just because the trader is Czech. Kaizl said: "Inland production can expect salvation only if it achieves the same price and quality of goods as the opponent."
Finally, no Czech "super-union" was established, but the statutes of the Czech National Economy Society were approved. The Society's constituting meeting did not take place until 31 May 1896 at Old Town's Hall in Prague. There were also rural departments in Brno, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové, Chrudim, Pardubice and Pilsen. The first chairman was Dr. J. Lošták (until October 1898), the agent was prof. J. Koloušek. There were only few members in the second year of its activity - only 186 in Bohemia and 93 in Moravia. At the beginning of the institution, there were entrepreneurs together with academics; it was not a scientific institution from the beginning; such one was supposed to be the National Economy Institute at the Czech Academy of Sciences and Art, whose financial father was the greatest Czech patron architect Josef Hlávka and its spiritual father Professor Albín Bráf.
The numerous successes of CNES included the opening of the Czech Industrial Bank in Prague (thanks to J. Lošťák) and the establishment of „Obchodní zádruha“ in Brno. In October 1898, according to prof. Josef Gruber's schedule, it organized the first systematic lecture course on the most important disciplines of national economy and social politics, in 1900 a course for Czech teachers in Brno.
The leader was until 1900 Dr. G. Pöschl (chairman of Sporobanka), from July 1900 to the beginning of 1920 prof. J. Gruber, in 1921-1929 Dr. J. Fořt, from 1929 to the war Dr. V. Schuster.
For example, what did the composition of the supreme authority in the second half of the 1930s look like? Vice-chairmen were Dr. B. Živanský, JUDr. V. Mildschuh and K. Karásek, agents were Dr. K.M. Brabec and JUDr. Ing. A. Král, up to now known members of the committee were: JUDr. A. Basch, JUDr. J. Drachovský, JUDr. K. Engliš, JUDr. Z. Fafl, JUDr. Fr. Hodáč, JUDr. C. Horáček, JUDr. J. Hraše, until his death in 1936 JUDr. D. Krejčí (Brno professor, "father of Czech statistics"), JUDr. J. Macek, JUDr. V. Pospíšil, JUDr. J. Hejda, Ing. Dr. M. Horna, Ing. O. Kapp, Ing. Dr. V. Klimecký (at that time editor-in-chief of Obzor národohospodářský), JUDr. Z. Roos. In addition to the main committee (Prague), there were also local committees at "trade unions" that operated before World War II: in Brno, Bratislava, Moravská Ostrava, Hradec Králové (where factory owner Jan Petrof was a member of the committee) and České Budějovice. There were lecturing, translation committees, treasury officer, committee for the review of accounts and a secretariat. The activity was dependent on sponsorship.
There were lectures not only in Prague, but also in the places of trade unions, and sometimes there were lectures even by foreign guests. Texts of lectures were regularly published in the press, at the Society's own expense, at the bookstore of Fr. Řivnáč in Prague. Thus, during the interwar period, about 13 - 19 extensive lectures in the form of brochures were issued, by spring of 1937, more than 226 bundles were issued. Big banks bound them and in libraries today there can be found years with the title "Collection of lectures by the Czech National Economic Society in the period...." (e.g. 1936/1937). In addition to the lectures, discussions were held on topical issues and controversies over interesting previous performances.
Under the auspices of CNES, Fořt library of standard translations of the world works of national economic literature was organized, but by 1937, only 2 volumes were issued because it was difficult to find money for non-commercial science at that time. (Clark, J.B.: Fundamentals of national economy theory and their application to modern problems of industrial production and economic policy; Ricardo, D.: Principles of Political Economy and Taxation) and there was a translation of J.H. Davenport‘s - The Economics of Alfred Marshall.
CNES (that time Czech abbreviation was Č. Sp. N.) had the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Prague, where all the Prague events (lectures, meetings, memorial evenings) took place and its secretariat was housed there as well, in the number of two paid people (the director was the famous publicist Ing. B. Mansfeld) at the prestigious address Old Town No. 16. In 1937 it had 1460 members, out of which 810 were at the headquarters (Prague).
CNES tried, successfully, "without any personal, group or political interests, to provide objective grounds and to be an objective centre for economic popularization, journalism and other initiatives.“
Written by Karel Půlpán and editted by Martin Čihák.
Czechoslovak Economic Society
The immediate predecessor of Czech Economic Society was Czechoslovak Economic Society. The first efforts to establish it date back to 1958. The establishment of CES was largely related to the growing interest of western economists in economic reform in the then Czechoslovakia.
The immediate motive for the establishment of CES was to make the former CSSR join the International Economic Association (IEA). A preparatory committee was established in 1960 and its chairman was doc. Vladimir Kaigl, the then director of the Economic Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CAS). This committee formed the initial membership base and in April 1961 summoned a constitutive plenary session. The main committee and the 7-member board was elected here, whose chairman was Ota Šik, who at that time took over the leadership in EI of CAS. In this composition, the main committee worked with partial changes until 1967. CES started operating in 1962 and initially it had only 30 founding members, it did not issue any printed materials and its activities focused mainly on organizing meetings between western and inland economists - members of the CES. In 1962, CES also gained membership in the International Economic Association.
As a contribution to the IEA's activities, the CES held a conference on "Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty" in 1964 in Smolenice, Slovakia, which was attended by many experts from inland and abroad. A similar conference was organized by CES in 1966 in Liblice on "Structural Change and Economic Reform in East European Countries". The success of these conferences allowed home economists to take part in many summer schools and seminars organized by other member associations within the International Economic Association. In the second half of the 1960s, many inland economists travelled abroad thanks to these contacts, particularly the younger generation to western universities, where they gained the foundations of proper economic education.
CES's chairman Ota Šik was elected a member of the IEA executive committee in 1965. Since the mid1960s, CES's inland activities began to intensify as well. A number of lectures by foreign lecturers (for example, 22 such lectures in 1966), seminars and lectures by home economists were organised. The number of CES‘s members rose by 1965 from the original thirty to several hundred. The lectures were also attended by non-members of the CES, as they represented, in their time, a relatively independent environment for economic discussions. In the second half of the 1960s, CES held 3-10 lectures per month (!). The number of participants usually ranged between 20 and 80. The interest in the lectures was so great that sections were established focusing on specialized topics and that their representatives met not only in Prague and Bratislava, but also in other cities. At the same time, Slovak Economic Society, which had its representatives in the management of the Czechoslovak Economic Society, was also established.
In 1966, the CES secretariat also started to publish records of CES lectures in cooperation with the Economic Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. These materials largely escaped repressions by the communist authorities and thus became a relatively free area for exchanging information on economics. Since 1966, CES has published hundreds of such lecture records. In 1967, the general assembly of CES was held, which was truly nation-wide. With more than 350 members, the activity of CES in the first five years was assessed there, and a much broader committee was elected (59 members!) together with a sixteen-member board. The chairman was again Ota Šik and the secretary for science was J. Kosta. The organization of CES was changed and the aim was to stimulate a broad discussion on the basic questions of economic theory and practice, to organize seminars, conferences, lectures by foreign economists and inland economists about their stays abroad, to develop activities of expert sections, etc. The activity of CES was to become significantly richer than before.
In May 1968, Ota Šik asked, because of his demanding work in the government, for release from the office of a chairman of CES. Karel Kouba was elected as chairman of CES, Ota Šik remained a member of the CES committee and the IEA committee. The members of the leading positions of CES and its individual sections were actively involved in the then economic and political debates. For example, the CES general assembly adopted a resolution in May 1968 in which it advocated a model of democratic socialism and the continuation of economic reforms. IEA‘s International Conference on „Planning and Market Relations“ in Liblice was being prepared, which however did not take place eventually. In 1968, the company expanded to include the "Young Economist Club" at the CES (KMEN), which greatly revived its activities. KMEN, besides other things, organized a symposium on the company in Liblice in December 1968. However, the almanac of this symposium was the first and last publication of KMEN.
The promising development of the Czechoslovak Economic Society was interrupted by the invasion of the occupying forces in August 1968. In the period after August, the International Economic Association held its 3rd World Congress, where Professor Ota Šik was elected in absentia to the IEA central committee, and support for activities of CES members was expressed here. With the arrival of "normalization" in the early 1970s, however, CES‘s activity was reduced. The CES general assembly, which was prepared in 1969, did not take place and Prof. Karel Kouba resigned at the last meeting of the main committee in October 1970 from the position of CES’s chairman. CES's main committee did not meet again.
The communist party's instruction was followed by the intervention of the scientific college of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences; it established the "administrative committee" of CES, which prepared the "Analysis of the Activities of the Czechoslovak Economic Society for the years 1968-1969" (see Politická ekonomie No. 9/1972). „Reliable" party officials, often of dubious professional and personal qualities, were subsequently promoted to the CES management. CES formally continued to exist, but its contacts with the International Economic Association were practically limited to attending conferences of the International Economic Association every three years. Also, the inland activity of the company narrowed in 1969-1989. In this period, a competition of young economists is worth mentioning, which was organised every year from 1982 by a section of young economists at CES in the form of a national conference of young economists - the winners of the constitutional and all-school competitions. Among the successful participants in these competitions, we can find a number of well-known economists today.
Czech Economic Society
Political changes after November 1989 meant for Czechoslovak Economic Society a return to life. At the beginning of 1990, a new management of the CES was elected and its regular activity was restored. Ing Karel Dyba was elected as the society's president and scientific secretary of the society was Ing. Michal Mejstřík. In the years 1990-1993, the Czechoslovak Economic Society focused mainly on the academic community and it mainly used lectures of foreign professors in its activities. The centre of CES lectures was in Prague.
In 1993, a new leadership was elected at the CES general assembly, led by Doc. Ing. Karel Dyba, CSc., scientific secretary was Ing. Livia Klausová, CSc. Czechoslovak Economic Society was divided into the Czech and Slovak part, a change in the company's statutes was made and at the same time its directions were changed as well. While CES operated by 1993 at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, under the Council of Scientific Societies and was rather academic, the changes in 1993 were driven by an attempt to "open" the Czech Economic Society in several ways. Firstly, it was an attempt to open CES from scientific institutions to the practitioners. The reasons were partially pragmatic: CES became a civil association, which received a very small contribution from the state budget, so besides individual members, also institutions (e.g companies, banks) could become members of CES and they were willing to financially support the society. The interest in "collective membership" was considerable, which also related to the fact that main protagonists of the economic reform were involved in CES.
Secondly, CES tried to open up to young economists. Since 1994, the competition "Young Economist" and the Engliš Prize competition were organised, which were partly related to similar competitions organized earlier by the section of young economists of CES. The Czech Economic Society also facilitated the handover of a gift in the form of several high-performance computers to universities in Ostrava, Karviná, Brno and Prague. Thirdly, CES was trying to expand from Prague to all parts of the Czech Republic.
In 1994, a branch in Ostrava was renewed with almost 100 members and a branch in Brno (already existing since 1966) with about 62 members was re-established as well. A branch in Ústí nad Labem was newly established with about 40 members, later at the end of 1997 a branch in Jindřichův Hradec, and finally in 1999 a branch in České Budějovice. The subsidiaries developed their own activities, organized numerous seminars and conferences. The number of individual members of CES in the 1990s was about 650, the number of collective members was about 40.
The main activities of CES included the organization of "major seminars“ in 1993-1997, focusing on current economic issues. These seminars took place roughly 3-4 times per year and by the end of 1999, 20 of them had taken place. Also organised general meetings of CES must be taken into account, which were associated with the performance of leading inland economists. A bulletin was produced from each seminar, which was distributed to the members of CES by post. Reports from general meetings can be found in the journal Politická ekonomie. In the mid1990s, CES also participated in preparations of the annual 10th Congress of the European Economic Association, which took place in the Palace of Culture in Prague in September 1995. The CERGE institute was responsible for preparing on the Czech side.
In April 1998, a new series of seminars under the title "Economic Theories and the Czech Economy" was held in parallel with "major seminars". The unifying element of this series of seminars is to seek answers to the question of what interesting facts can be deduced from economic theories and what can be applied to the Czech economics. These seminars, unlike "major" seminars, are less focused on economic politics and more on economics as a scientific discipline. Seminars take place about 10 times a year.
Reports from seminars are regularly provided by specialized journals Finance a úvěr and Politická ekonomie. This series of seminars also include a seminar, organised once a year, on current winners of Nobel Prize for economics. Some of the seminars held in Prague were subsequently repeated with the same or similar attendance at the regional subsidiaries of CES. In addition, some regional subsidiaries started to organize seminars that are very similar to seminars in the series "Economic Theory and the Czech Economy". An important chapter in the history of CES is the biennial CES conference, the first of which took place in 2000. Thanks to these activities, CES at the beginning of the 21st century ranked among the prestigious Czech scientific societies, whose primary objective is to support the development and popularization of economics in the Czech Republic.
- Analýza činnosti Československé společnosti ekonomické za léta 1968-1969." Politická ekonomie, 9/1972.
- "Kmen: Symposium o podniku". Pro potřeby Klubu mladých ekonomů při ČSE vydal Ekonomický ústav ČSAV, Praha, 1968.
- Klausová, L.: "Česká společnost ekonomická se představuje (interview)". Politická ekonomie, 3/1995.
- Sereghyová, J.: "A brief outline of the history of the Czechoslovak Economic Association". Interní materiál ČSE, 1994.
- "Výroční zasedání České společnosti ekonomické". Politická ekonomie, 3/1994.
- "Výroční zasedání České společnosti ekonomické". Politická ekonomie, 2/1998.