By FOIA Research
on March 28, 2019 - Last updated: November 7, 2023

Max Otte

Max Otte (born 7 October 1964) is a right-wing German economist and author with a considerable media clout, who has made a fortune as a fund manager. From 1991 until 2022, he was a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Within the party, Otte was the federal chairman of the WerteUnion (Values Union, WU) from May 2021 to January 2022, the most right-wing faction of the CDU.

When the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerged in 2013, he started to advertise the new party, all the while staying in the CDU for nine more years. He was thrown into the limelight when he became the AfD's candidate for the German presidential election in 2022 while still being a CDU member, upon which he was excluded from the party.

Otte became known to a wider public through various sensationalist books, such as "The Crash Comes" (Der Crash kommt), in which he predicted a collapse of the stock markets. For many years, he was a frequent interview guest in political talk shows and established newspapers and broadcasters, which gave him a stage to launder his extreme positions into the public discourse. At the same time, he has been frequently contributing to right-wing media outlets, where he tells his apocalyptic visions of Germany’s future, particularly criticizing the country's refugee policy. According to his CV, Otto is also the editor of the investment newsletter Der Privatinvestor and the magazine PI Politik Spezial.1

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Otte had appeared on both RT and Sputnik several times as a financial expert.2 Following the invasion Otte left the CDU, citing among others the party's decision to deliver heavy weaponry to Ukraine as a reason.

In the past two decades, Otte made a fortune as an investment fund manager, and has established businesses in several countries. Currently, he is the head of the Cologne-based, privately owned "Institute for Asset Management" (Institut für Vermögensentwicklung GmbH), which he founded in 2003.3 Furtermore, "His PI Privatinvestor Kapitalanlage GmbH manages seven funds, including the PI Vermögensbildungsfonds, the PI Global Value Fonds and the Max Otte Multiple Opportunities Fonds" according to his CV.1

Although he has some minor reservations towards Hayekian economic absolutism,4 and self-avowedly adheres to "ordoliberalism in the sense of Alexander Rüstow or Wilhelm Röpke,"1 he is prominently featured on the website of the Hayek Association Dresden (Hayek-Verein Dresden).5

Trained in economy and public affairs, he held various positions at universities in Boston, Worms, Graz and Erfurt, however, in 2018 ceased his teaching activity.

According to his website, he is a member of the Atlantik-Brücke, the German-American Business Club Frankfurt, the German Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management (Deutsche Vereinigung für Finanzanalyse e.V.), and the Center for Value Investing (value-oriented investing) (Zentrum für Value Investing (wertorientiertes Investieren) e.V.).1 Furthermore, Otte has been serving on the advisory board of the Prussian Society Berlin-Brandenburg since 2010,6 7 and he is a member of the German Language Association (Verein Deutsche Sprache).8

Otte is the father of three children.9 He holds a German and a US citizenship.


Maximilian Otte was born in Plettenberg, West Germany, to Lore Otte, née Hauter, and Max Otte (1928-1983), a Protestant vocational school teacher and local CDU politician.10 About his family Otte writes in his CV:1

The father came from Silesia and worked as a local politician (CDU council member), Protestant church master and educator for the service of people and a living democracy. The mother comes from a Palatinate family of pacifist, grassroots democratic, Mennonite farmers and millers who were expelled from Switzerland in 1752. The grandmother comes from the Mennonite community of Weierhof, the grandfather from the Kirschbachermühle near Zweibrücken.

Max Otte obtained his university entrance qualification at Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium Plettenberg in 1983.11

From 1983 to 1984, Otte passed his basic military service with the battalion" 3rd FArt. Btl. 31" in the Scharnhorst barracks in Lüneburg. "During this time he was honored by the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr for a political essay about the revolution in Iran," according to his CV.1

In 1983, Otte graduated from high school in Plettenberg. From 1983 to 1989, he studied business administration, economics and political science at the University of Cologne. Between 1986 and 1987, he spent a year abroad at the American University in Washington, D.C., on a scholarship from the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation, where he majored in economic policy, finance and marketing.1

In 1988, his first book appeared, The United States, Japan, West Germany and Europe in the International Economy 1977–1987. Between conflict and coordination (Idstein: Schulz-Kirchner, 1988).12 He completed his education in 1989 with a degree in economics.

In 1989, Otte went to Princeton University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (three-year doctoral scholarship), where he attended lectures with Paul Volcker. The director of the doctoral program at that time was the future US Federal Reserve President Ben Bernanke.1


From 199113 to 2022, Otte was a member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).

After graduating from Princeton University with a Master of Arts in Public Affairs in 1991, Otte earned his doctorate there in 1997 with the thesis "A Rising Middle Power? - German Foreign Policy in Transformation."14 His doctoral advisor was Aaron Friedberg, who served as Deputy Assistant for National-Security Affairs and Director of Policy Planning in the Office of the Vice President of the United States from 2003 to 2005.1

Meanwhile, Otte worked as a consultant for international organizations and the public sector at Kienbaum and Partners from 1989 to 1994, and was an employee of the Gütersloh Center for Higher Education (CHE) in 1995.15

From 1997 to 1998, Otte was employed by the international investment consulting firm Arthur D. Little.16 He advised various companies and organizations, including Munich Re, the German Federal Ministry of Economics, and the United Nations.17

From 1998 to 2000, Otte was Assistant Professor of International Economics and International Management at the Department of International Relations at Boston University.18


He also helped establish the Executive MBA Program in Business Integration at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg from 2001 to 2005.17

In 2001, he became a tenured professor of general and international business administration at Worms University of Applied Sciences, where he taught marketing, international business studies, and finance and investment in the departments of international business administration, foreign trade, and tourism.

Institut für Vermögensentwicklung (IFVE)

In 2003, he founded the still existing Institut für Vermögensentwicklung (IFVE) as a limited liability company.19 A stock corporation established in Switzerland in the meantime has since been deleted.

Otte has held the U.S. citizenship in addition to his German citizenship since 2005.20

Pléiade Actions "Privatinvestor"

Otte first became active as a fund advisor in October 2005 for a fund launched by Banque SCS Alliance in Luxembourg, the Pléiade Actions "Privatinvestor."21 However, the project did not get beyond the starting phase, after which initiators left the bank; and Otte ended the collaboration at the beginning of 2007.22

In 2006, Otte was a founding member of the Zentrum für Value Investing e.V (Center for Value Investing), as well as its director and member of the supervisory board.23

That year, he published the book "The Crash Comes" (Der Crash kommt), in which he predicted a collapse of the stock markets. When the financial crisis hit in 2007, Otte was celebrated as a economic prophet, and became a known commentator on financial topics. He recommended his "Privatinvestor" fund in 2006 in the book "The Crash Comes" as a "fund for the crisis," but discontinued his advisory work for the fund at the height of the financial crisis in October 2008.

PI Global Value Fund

In March 2008, the investment fund PI Global Value Fund (WKN: A0NE9G) was launched in Liechtenstein, which, according to Otte, made investments based on his strategy. This second fund received a business authorization for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in 2011.

During that period, he held numerous lectures on the financial crisis, for example for the extreme Right fraternity Kölner Burschenschaft Germania in 2009.24


From 2011 to 2016, Otte was a professor of quantitative and qualitative business analysis and diagnosis at Karl Franzens University in Graz, Austria.25 26

From the winter semester of 2011/2012 to the winter semester of 2016/2017, he also regularly taught economics at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Erfurt.27

Vermögensbildungsfonds AMI

In July 2013, Otte started another fund, the Vermögensbildungsfonds AMI, launched by Ampega Investment, a fund exclusively geared at German investors. Otte said he could no longer advise PI Global Value personally, but only through his Swiss "Privatinvestor" management company, due to his residence in Cologne and the tightened legal situation since the financial crisis.28

Alternative for Germany

Although a longtime CDU member until 2022, as early as 2013 Otte advertised voting for the AfD, for example with a email newsletter, which carries all the characteristics of future AfD rhetorics:29 30

"Dear Reader,

I ask you […] to give your vote to the Alternative for Germany on the Sunday election.
The AfD is successfully kept under wraps, and defamed as right-wing. Also massive violence is used against the party. In the course of the so-called Euro rescue, the AfD is the only party that fully upholds the basic law, and thus our constitution, without any ifs or buts. […]
If you want to stop the ‘unbearable breaches of the law’ - a term that a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court privately used in my presence - which are currently taking place in the context of the so-called Euro rescue, vote for the AfD. The Federal Constitutional Court cannot accomplish that alone. The court needs political backing. If you want to see how despicable our current policy is, look at the speech by Sahra Wagenknecht in the Bundestag from December 2012. Nearly 500,000 clicks speak volumes:
If you are in the constituency of a so-called “Euro Rebel", for example Klaus-Peter Willsch, CDU,  Dr. med. Carsten Linnemann, CDU, Frank Schäffler, FDP, or other Euro Rebels in the Bundestag, back this rebel with both votes. I was personally involved in the election campaign for Mr. Willsch and Mr. Schäffler. The AFD needs advocates in the established parties after the election, so that a coalition can come about. It is high time to "avert damage from the German people," as formulated in the oath of office of our Chancellor.

Yours sincerely,
Prof. Dr. Max Otte"


Although, as of the mid-2010s, Max Otte was a frequent guest speaker and interview guest at far-right outlets, such as eigentümlich frei and several AfD platforms, he was invited as a guest to a political talk show by the public broadcaster ZDF in 2016, where he talked about Brexit being a lucky case for Europe;31 or to ARD’s political talk show “Anne Will” in 2017, where he could express his favorable views of Donald Trump.32

Max Otte Multiple Opportunities Fund

At the end of 2016, Otte initiated the Max Otte Multiple Opportunities Fund, an alternative investment fund (AIF) for professional investors.22 The funds managed by Otte are valued very differently. In 2016, the funds he advised were classified as “adventurous” by the analysis firm Morningstar.33 The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung criticized that Otte had “used his celebrity to make millions with stock funds.” The funds performed significantly worse in the years 2014-2016 compared to the MSCI World global stock index. According to calculations by Morningstar, the PI Global Value fund in particular was “one of the big losers.” In the comparison group, 98 percent of the funds performed better.34 According to a report by Spiegel Online, the fund capital managed by Otte halved from 300 million euros to a good 150 million euros by October 2016.35



When in March 2017, the WerteUnion (Values Union, WU) was founded, the most right-wing faction of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), Otte subsequently joined.36 The WU emerged as an inner-party opposition within the CDU/CSU opposed to Merkel’s politics, as well as rallying for “traditional” CDU values. Founded by the CDU politician Alexander Mitsch and his party colleague, the attorney Ralf Höcker, the around 3000-4000 member strong association enjoys prominent support by now. From May 2021 to January 2022, the WU was led by Otte; since January 2023, it is headed by Hans-Georg Maaßen, former head of Germany's domestic intelligence service.

In November 2017, it was revealed that Otte had moved the management of his funds from Switzerland to Germany.37 To do so, he had received a license from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).38

Oswald Spengler Society

In 2017, Otte co-founded the Oswald Spengler Society (OSS) with headquarters in Belgium, named after the fascist thinker Oswald Spengler, for which he still serves as treasurer.39 The other founders were Michael Thöndl and David Engels, a Belgian-German academic sitting on the editorial board of the far-right The European Conservative journal. In 2018, the Oswald Spengler Prize, endowed by Otte and worth 10,000 euros, was awarded for the first time to the far-right40 author Michel Houellebecq,41 followed by Jordan Peterson in 2022.42

On the OSS board there are three Germans, a Belgian-German (Engels) and an American (Robert W. Merry) - all with a penchant for scientific racism. Merry was a US Army intelligence officer deployed as language-qualified counterintelligence agent in Germany (presumably he speaks German). He wrote for the National Review and was editor of The American Conservative.43 He still serves on “The American Ideas Institute Board of Directors” of The American Conservative.44 Merry now splits his time between Montana (known for its neo-Nazi scene) and Langley.39

Before the 2017 German federal election, while still a CDU member, Otte said he would vote for the Alternative for Germany party, and argued in favor of a coalition government between the CDU and the AfD.45


In 2018, Otte retired from civil service at his own request, and ceased his teaching activity.

In March 2018, Otte was among the first signatories of the "Joint Declaration 2018", an appeal by German right-leaning authors, publicists, artists, scientists, and politicians against "damaging Germany" by an "illegal mass immigration" taking place in the context of the refugee influx in Germany from 2015.46

Hambacher Fest

In 2018, Otte was the main organizer of the Hambach Festival (Hambacher Fest), named after the eponymous historic event by German national democrats in May 1832 at Hambach Castle near Neustadt an der Haardt. The festival brought together CDU and AfD politicians, as well as supporters of the German Right. Prominent guests were present, i.a. AfD leader Jörg Meuthen, Thilo Sarrazin, Joachim Starnbatty, Imad Karim, Markus Krall, Willy Wimmer, and the former CDU politician Vera Lengsfeld.47 48

In 2018, Lengsfeld published a joint statement together with several other right-wing intellectuals, amongst them Thilo Sarrazin and Max Otte, which demands an end to Merkel’s immigration policy as well as the “restoration of the constitutional state.” The very short statement reads:49 “With growing bewilderment we observe how Germany is destroyed by illegal mass immigration. We are in solidarity with those who peacefully demonstrate for the rule of law to be restored at the borders of our country.” In a statement ahead of the festival Otte criticized a "failed social and economic policy," warned of a new Cold War, and called his own party, the CDU, "largely brought into line."50

Hambacher Fest 2018.

RT and Sputnik

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Otte had appeared on both RT and Sputnik several times as a financial expert.2 For example, on RT Deutsch, Otte was  interviewed in 2018 by Jasmin Kosubek in the framework of "The missing part” interview series. Headline of the interview was “Max Otte about Germany: ‘Permanent State of Emergency.’”51

Desiderius Erasmus Foundation

Although still a CDU member back then, Otte was elected chairman of the board of trustees of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation (DEF) in June 2018, and served in that function until January 2021. Since March 2018, the DEF is presided over by Erika Steinbach (b. 1943), who was a member of the CDU/CSU from 1974 to 2017. For 16 years (1998-2014), she was the president of the extreme right-wing German Federation of Expellees, an influential organization formed in 1957 to represent the interests of ethnic Germans from former German territories lost in the course of the two world wars.

Another Desiderius Erasmus Foundation functionary, Karlheinz Weißmann (b. 1959), is notably connected to The European Conservative (TEC) orbit, in which Otte has emerged as well. Weißmann had been a protégé of Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing, the main funder of the Bibliothek des Konservatismus (Library of Conservatism), which appears as the co-publisher of the TEC journal. An avid Criticón and Junge Freiheit contributor from early on as well as the co-founder of the German Cato magazine, Weißmann's office is in the same building as the Library of Conservatism. As Otte, Weißmann has shifted from the Right of the CDU to the AfD, today sitting on the supervisory board of the DEF.

Chemnitz Riots

After Otte the neo-Nazi riots in Chemnitz in August 2018, Otte made several apologetic statements, for example describing the media coverage of the event as a possible “start of the official persecution of political dissenters.” For he had compared the reports about Chemnitz with reports about the Reichstag fire, he was criticized by Meron Mendel, the director of the Anne Frank Educational Center.52 Stefanie Student-Springorum, head of the Center for Anti-Semitism Research at the Technical University of Berlin, saw Otte's statement as an attempt to equate right-wing extremists with Nazi victims.53


The European Conservative orbit

In 2019, Otte has emerged directly in the nexus of The European Conservative network. That year, he appeared as a co-author of an important pan-European far-right publication from 2019 called Renovatio Europeae: Plea for a Hesperialist Renewal of Europe that appeared in several languages.54 Edited by TEC’s David Engels, who sits on the board of Otte's Oswald Spengler Society, the co-authors include notably TEC’s editor-in-chief Alvino-Mario Fantini.

After the right-wing murder of Walter Lübcke in 2019, Otte questioned the right-wing extremist motive of the murderer. He criticized the media for an alleged agitation against the political Right. This led to a number of politicians from the Christian Democrats and the Value Union to call for Otte leaving the CDU.55 However, Otte did not leave the party, and instead became federal president of the Values Union in May 2021.56


Querdenken contacts

Nikolai Nerling during the "storm" on the Reichstag in the course of the Querdenken demonstration

In August 2020, Max Otte took part in a mass demonstration of Corona deniers (Querdenken). Among them were hardcore neo-Nazis, Reich Citizens (Reichsbürger), Identitarians, anti-vaxxers, adherents to the Qanon conspiracy theory, as well as other proponents lured into the "crossfront" under an anti-scientific and conspiracist umbrella.57


Subsequently, Otte was in close touch with figureheads of the Querdenken movement, as leaked emails show.58 In late 2021, the hacker group Anonleaks published hundreds of emails from a Querdenken organization called the Hannah Arendt Academy of Thinkers (Hannah-Arendt-Akademie der Denker).59 They show how a group around the right-wing esoteric Erich Hambach planned their activities geared at their conspiracist clientele, which notably included Otte. Otte deflected his connection to the academy, stating in the newspaper Welt that he was just "one of many supporters."60 "However, the emails suggest that he was involved on a much deeper level," such as "choosing the name and brokering contacts with potential investors," according to a Zeit Online article.58

PI Vermögensbildungsfonds

In July 2021, one of Otte's funds changed from Max Otte Vermögensbildungsfonds to PI Vermögensbildungsfonds (DE000A1J3AM3).61 The fund is managed by Bayerische Vermögen AG in Traunstein.62


AfD candidate for the 2022 presidential election

In January 2022, Otte, still head of the CDU's Values ​​Union, accepted the AfD's nomination as federal presidential candidate for the 2022 German presidential election.63 Thereupon, on January 25, 2022, it was announced that the CDU had temporarily excluded Max Otte from the party, and initiated proceedings for his expulsion.64 In late January 2022, Otte stepped down as head of the CDU's WerteUnion.65 In early February 2022, research by NDR and WDR showed that before being nominated as the AfD candidate for the presidency, Otte had donated at least 30,000 euros to the party.66 AfD party representatives denied any connection to his candidacy.67 In mid-February, Otte announced that the failed presidential bid - which he admitted was nothing but a stunt - was his "farewell from party politics."68

In March 2022, it was reported about a tweet by Otte in which he stated that "Putin is only concerned with 'demilitarization' and 'neutrality' of Ukraine.'"69 Otte justified his separation from the CDU with the “proposal, largely driven by the Union parties, to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine.” The proposal was “written in martial language” and could “be interpreted by Russia as Germany’s entry into the war.” Although the attack was a “war of aggression that violates international law,” Russia “should not win this war,” but “it should not lose either,” because a “nuclear power” should “not be humiliated.”70

The CDU's proceedings against Otte concluded on August 3, 2022, with the expected result of Otte's formal expulsion from the CDU.71

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