There’s a great article in today’s Washington Post about Germany’s about face on the economic crisis. It initially took a strong stand against helping other countries but has apparently seen a broader picture as its exports have fallen. This, in a country whose consumers are more like the Chinese than Americans.
Few countries are as politically and culturally averse to debt as Germany. Ever since the days of the Weimar Republic eight decades ago, when hyperinflation ruined the economy and led to the rise of the Nazi Party, Germans have been dedicated savers who eschew credit cards and mortgages in favor of old-fashioned cash.
In recent years, as other European countries spent freely and saw their property and financial markets boom, German lawmakers raised taxes and cut popular welfare programs so they could balance the federal budget. Today, Germany’s public finances are the healthiest in Europe — but now the country is being called upon to pay for the sins of its undisciplined neighbors….
…In a speech in December in Stuttgart, [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] said any thrifty German housewife would have better sense than some of Germany’s allies. "She would give us some short and correct advice, which would be this: ‘You cannot live beyond your means in the long run.’ "
What surprised me is that Germany is the world’s leading exporter, not China as I would have thought.