Mont Pelerin Society

The Mont Pelerin Society is an international neoliberal organization composed of economists, philosophers, historians, intellectuals and business leaders. The members see the MPS as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by classical Western economists, political scientists and philosophers. Its founders included Friedrich Hayek, Frank Knight, Karl Popper, Ludwig von Mises, George Stigler and Milton Friedman. The society advocates freedom of expression, free market economic policies and the political values of an open society. Further, the society seeks to discover ways in which free enterprise can replace many functions currently provided by government entities.


In its "Statement of Aims" on 8 April 1947, the scholars were worried about the dangers faced by civilization, stating the following:
The group also stated that it is "difficult to imagine a society in which freedom may be effectively preserved" without the "diffused power and initiative" associated with "private property and the competitive market" and found it desirable inter alia to study the following matters:
  1. "The analysis and exploration of the nature of the present crisis so as to bring home to others its essential moral and economic origins.
  2. The redefinition of the functions of the state so as to distinguish more clearly between the totalitarian and the liberal order.
  3. Methods of re-establishing the rule of law and of assuring its development in such manner that individuals and groups are not in a position to encroach upon the freedom of others and private rights are not allowed to become a basis of predatory power.
  4. The possibility of establishing minimum standards by means not inimical to initiative and functioning of the market.
  5. Methods of combating the misuse of history for the furtherance of creeds hostile to liberty.
  6. The problem of the creation of an international order conducive to the safeguarding of peace and liberty and permitting the establishment of harmonious international economic relations."
The group "seeks to establish no meticulous and hampering orthodoxy", "conduct propaganda" or align with some party. It aims to facilitate "the exchange of views to contribute to the preservation and improvement of the free society".


The MPS was created on 10 April 1947 at a conference organized by Friedrich Hayek. Originally, it was to be named the Acton-Tocqueville Society. After Frank Knight protested against naming the group after two "Roman Catholic aristocrats" and Ludwig von Mises expressed concern that the mistakes made by Acton and Tocqueville would be connected with the society, the decision was made to name it after Mont Pèlerin, the Swiss resort where it convened.


In 1947, thirty-nine scholars, mostly economists with some historians and philosophers, were invited by Friedrich Hayek to meet to discuss the state and possible fate of classical liberalism, his goal being an organization which would resist interventionism and promote his conception of classical liberalism. He wanted to discuss how to combat the "state ascendancy and Marxist or Keynesian planning sweeping the globe". The first meeting took place in the Hotel du Parc in the Swiss village of Mont Pèlerin, near the city of Vevey, Switzerland. Funding for the conference came from various sources including the William Volker Fund thanks to Harold Luhnow and the Bank of England owing to the help of Alfred Suenson-Taylor. William Rappard, a Swiss academic, diplomat and founder of the Graduate Institute of International Studies, addressed the society's inaugural meeting. In his "Opening Address to a Conference at Mont Pelerin", Hayek mentioned "two men with whom I had most fully discussed the plan for this meeting both have not lived to see its realisation", namely Henry Simons and John Clapham, a British economic historian.
The MPS aimed to "facilitate an exchange of ideas between like-minded scholars in the hope of strengthening the principles and practice of a free society and to study the workings, virtues, and defects of market-oriented economic systems". The MPS has continued to meet regularly, the General Meeting every two years and the regional meetings annually. The current president of the MPS is Pedro Schwartz Giron. It has close ties to the network of think tanks sponsored in part by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.


Hayek stressed that the society was to be a scholarly community arguing against collectivism while not engaging in public relations or propaganda. The society has become part of an international think tank movement and Hayek used it as a forum to encourage members such as Antony Fisher to pursue the think tank route. Fisher has established the Institute of Economic Affairs in London during 1955, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City in 1977 and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in 1981. Now known as the Atlas Network, they support a wide network of think tanks, including the Fraser Institute.
Prominent MPS members who advanced to policy positions included the late Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of West Germany, President Luigi Einaudi of Italy, Chairman Arthur F. Burns of the Federal Reserve Board and Secretary of State George Shultz. Among prominent contemporary political figures, former President Václav Klaus of the Czech Republic and acting politicians, such as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe of Sri Lanka, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Geoffrey Howe of the United Kingdom, former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence Antonio Martino, Chilean Finance Minister Carlos Cáceres and former New Zealand Finance Minister Ruth Richardson, are all MPS members. Of 76 economic advisers on Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign staff, 22 were MPS members.
Several leading journalists, including Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Walter Lippmann, former radical Max Eastman, John Chamberlain, Henry Hazlitt, John Davenport and Felix Morley, have also been members. Members of the MPS have also been well represented on the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
Eight MPS members, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, Maurice Allais, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Gary Becker and Vernon Smith have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Graeme Maxton and Jørgen Randers note that it is no surprise that so many MPS members have won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences because the MPS helped to create that award, specifically to legitimize free-market economic thinking.
In the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, the MPS is noted as having the 9th "Best Think Tank Conference".
In 2018, the Swiss blockchain banking Fintech company Mt Pelerin has named itself after the Mont Pelerin Society as an hommage to the values that the organization advocates.

Past presidents

Numerous notable economists have served as president of the MPS: