Speaking Of Null…

Zero, that is.

Debt

Germany May Abandon Its Beloved Black Zero – Chancellor Angela Merkel is still clinging to her policy of a balanced budget, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Germany’s economic downturn could soon usher in a return to deficit spending…

For years now, a balanced federal budget, known here in Germany as the “schwarze Null,” or black zero, without any fresh borrowing, has been a permanent fixture of German fiscal policy. After four decades of chronic borrowing to finance the German national budget, the shift stood for the renunciation of the debt state and became a symbol of sound policy. But now the issue is the subject of debate again — not only due to expensive political plans, but also the threat of a recession in Germany…

“We can accomplish the tasks at hand without accruing new debt.”

You Gotta Have Rules

In order for the EU to work properly, I mean. Take deficit spending (please). The infamous Maastricht “deficit criterion” from 1992 is one of my personal favorites. It’s limited to 3 (three) percent.

Rules

The euro convergence criteria (also known as the Maastricht criteria) are the criteria which European Union member states are required to meet to enter the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and adopt the euro as their currency…

2. Government budget deficit: The ratio of the annual general government deficit relative to gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices, must not exceed 3% at the end of the preceding fiscal year (based on notified measured data) and neither for any of the two subsequent years (based on the European Commission’s published forecast data). Deficits being “slightly above the limit” (previously outlined by the evaluation practice to mean deficits in the range from 3.0–3.5%[9]), will as a standard rule not be accepted, unless it can be established that either: “1) The deficit ratio has declined substantially and continuously before reaching the level close to the 3% limit” or “2) The small deficit ratio excess above the 3% limit has been caused by exceptional circumstances and has a temporary nature (i.e. expenditure one-offs triggered by a significant economic downturn, or expenditure one-offs triggered by the implementation of economic reforms with a positive mid/long-term effect)”.[5][6][10] If a state is found by the Commission to have breached the deficit criteria, they will recommend the Council of the European Union to open up a deficit-breached EDP against the state in accordance with Article 126(6), which only will be abrogated again when the state simultaneously comply with both the deficit and debt criteria.

I don’t understand everything there under item 2, of course, but apparently neither did most of the countries that signed the treaty (at least I get the 3 percent part). See the graph above about the EU’s top “deficit offenders.” It’s been going on like this for years and years, too. Any questions?

In Italien droht ein Bankenkollaps, in Spanien, Portugal und Frankreich herrscht der Schuldenstaat: Die Eurozone driftet auseinander, Regeln werden kaum noch eingehalten.