|Angie and Nick bring a Trojan horse to (now-deposed) Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou|
One of the puzzling aspects of recent days has been Standard & Poor's threatening to downgrade seemingly everything in sight in Europe: countries, banks, the EU bailout fund. Since the rating agencies showed themselves in the 2008 crisis to have been singularly incompetent and corrupt, I'm not sure why anyone listens to them at all. And just last month, less than a month ago actually, European officials were huffing and puffing and threatening the rating agencies over their mischief-making in the euro crisis.
But the reaction the last few days has been muted. I suspect that Princess Angie von Merkel and her court jester, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, think that S&P's dancing and stomping around is increasing pressure on other EU countries to adopt Angie's latest proposal for increased austerity policies all over Europe during the current depression.
Not everyone in Europe is happy with Angie, to put it mildly. A Controversial Paragon.Europe Shudders at Germany's New-Found Power Spiegel Online 12/06/2011 looks at current European worries about the overbearing policy of Germany under Merkel's Chancellorship toward its allegedly equal partners in the European Union.
This bit about French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has acted as Angie's willing partner in destroying the euro and the EU, is very telling:
When Sarkozy appeared in front of his supporters in Toulon last Thursday, he spoke of the "fear that France could lose control of its own destiny." His dramatic words were an appeal to French national pride, but his response to those fears was anything other than nationalist: "France and Germany have decided to unite their fate," he announced. So-called "convergence" -- greater alignment of the two countries -- was the only way out of the crisis.And it's a very practical problem that France and other countries are choosing, under various levels of German coercion, to adopt Angie's disastrous austerity economics:
There is no doubt which country wants to align itself with which. Later that day, one of his advisers said Sarkozy wanted "supply oriented economic policies and debt reduction modeled on those of Gerhard Schröder," Merkel's predecessor. In his speech, the president even announced a "jobs summit" between employers and unions just like the one initiated by then-Chancellor Schröder six years ago.
The very next day the French daily newspaper Libération ran an article under the headline "A President Modeled on the Germans," which claimed "If you closed your eyes, you could hear Merkel speaking" during Sarkozy's speech.
During a televised interview back in early November, Sarkozy uttered almost unimaginable words for a French president: "All my efforts are directed towards adapting France to a system that works. The German system."
Throughout Europe, wherever austerity measures have been either announced or already implemented, Germany has been or is being blamed for it. After all, it is the Germans who are demanding these reforms. Very quickly, praise is being replaced by criticism that Chancellor Merkel is meddling in the domestic policies of other countries.As Martin Wolf says, "like the Bourbons, the leaders seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing." (Merkozy failed to save the eurozone Financial Times 12/07/2011) And he writes that, even if the immediate crisis is overcome, something he doesn't count as highly likely:
... Many in Spain were appalled by the wording of a telegram the German chancellor sent to Mariano Rajoy to congratulate him on his election victory.
"Dear Mr. Rajoy," she had written in the message, which the left-leaning newspaper Pùblico quoted from both the German and in translation. Now that he had been given a clear mandate, Merkel said, Rajoy should "rapidly" take the necessary steps. If, as seems likely, the text was leaked by someone close to the prime minister-designate, it was a shrewd move indeed, for the Spanish now have someone to blame for their suffering.
The failure to recognise that a currency union is vulnerable to balance of payments crises, in the absence of fiscal and financial integration, makes a recurrence [of the current euro crisis] almost certain. Worse, focusing on fiscal austerity guarantees that the response to crises will be fiercely pro-cyclical, as we see so clearly.Tags: angela merkel, eu, euro, european union, martin wolf