Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wolfgang Münchau gives the Green Party credit for at least being straight about the causes of the eurozone crisis

Wolfgang Münchau has been analyzing the election platforms of the German parties for the September election with particular reference to their position on the euro crisis. For some reason, he didn't cover the platform of the Left Party, even though it has Members of Parliament and could theoretically be a coalition partner in the next government.

In Germany, you can gage how parties rank on the right-to-left perspective by their seating in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. Here is the seating as shown on the Bundestag's website as of 22.08.2013:

Right to left is measured from the viewpoint of the speaker at the podium facing the Members. The current right-to-left ranking: FDP, CDU/CSU, Greens, SPD, Left Party.

In Wenn Politiker vom Stammtisch aufstehen Spiegel Online 21.08.2013, Münchau sums up:

Unter den Wahlprogrammen der großen Parteien wagt nur das der Grünen eine offene und intelligente Analyse. Bei der SPD hatte ich das Gefühl, dass sie will, aber nicht kann oder sich nicht traut. Das Programm der Union ist harmlos, aber letztlich unwichtig, da es dort nur auf die Kanzlerin ankommt. Und das Programm der FDP besteht aus Verschwörungstheorien.

[Among the election platforms of the big parites, on that of the Greens comes up with an open and intelligent analysis. With the SPD, I have the feeling that they want to, but can't or don't trust themselves to do it. The program of the Union [CDU/CSU, Merkel's party] is harmless but in the end unimportant, because there what matters is the Chancellor. And the program of the FDP is composed of conspiracy theories.]

He likes the fact that the Greens' program explicitly recognizes that the German trade surplus is the flip side of the trade deficit in the rest of the eurozone. And they recognize that what the eurozone economy needs is overall growth, which would mean northern countries like Germany would need to grow much more in order to pull the southern ones out of the depression.

This is a welcome departure from the cheap nationalism and austerity obsession of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has been supported in practice by both the SPD and the Greens.

Unfortunately, the Greens don't look ready to break with her on actual policy. Münchau criticizes them for focused on side issues. They try to link the euro crisis with environmental issues; Münchau notes that the euro crisis can be understood from standard macroeconomic models. They also emphasize "tax dumping," which he says is a minor contributor to the crisis. And they chime in with Merkel's support for piddling additional measures targeted at youth unemployment, which is actually a direct effect of the depression and can't be significantly improved without bringing the crisis countries out of the depression.

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