Last Man Standing

Only she’s a girl.

Merkel

You have called Angela Merkel the modern-day empress of the eurozone. What do you mean?

The title empress reflects, in my view, two realities of present-day Europe. First, the Germans look so strong because the others look so weak. The British are withdrawing from Europe. The French are down but not out. They’re unable to rev up their economy – same thing for the Italians, same thing for the Spaniards. So, when you add it all up, who is the last man – or in this case, the last woman – standing?

The second reason is more concrete – the Germans have been in the vanguard of driving home fealty to the eurozone’s foundational treaties. These conventions enjoined member states, like Greece, not to overspend and over-borrow and, at the same time, to make their economies more efficient. Merkel and her finance minister are not austerity mongers as everybody is harping on about. They are committed to the original treaties’ stated rules that require eurozone members to reform their economies and become more competitive.

Zum ersten Mal seit 2005 könnte die Union einer Umfrage zufolge die absolute Mehrheit erreichen. Die Partei wäre mit 43 Prozent der Stimmen stärker als all anderen Parteien zusammen.

Gimme A G! Gimme An R!

As time ticks down for a deal, Athens and the lenders remain at odds over how far Greece is willing to bend to meet demands for austerity in exchange for funds desperately needed to avoid a default. The dispute is likely to come to a head by a European summit on June 25, or possibly earlier, at which either Mr. Tsipras or German Chancellor Angela Merkel may have to back down.

GREXIT

In a speech to Syriza party lawmakers, Mr. Tsipras said that Greece cannot accept deeper austerity demands from its international creditors—other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, accusing them of trying to humiliate the country and the IMF of having “criminal responsibility” for the country’s current economic woes.

Mutti Looks Mad

Some say it has something to do with Greece or something.

Mad

A small majority of Germans now want Greece out of the single currency, while an overwhelming majority believe that Europe shouldn’t offer Athens any new concessions to keep it in the bloc, according to a new poll from the German broadcaster ZDF.

Euroländer bereiten sich auf Griechenland-Pleite vor

Greece Worried Eurozone Could Collapse

And Greece is willing to help.

Tsipras

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has just pointed out to Merkel, Hollande & Co. that his country, accounting for a whopping 2% of the eurozone’s economy, is now finally ready to lend officials in Brussels all the money they will need in the turbulent times to come. Provided, of course, that they hand it all over to Greece first (along with a couple zillion euros on top for administrative fees).

Let’s get this over with, people.

„Es wäre der Anfang vom Ende der Eurozone.“ Tsipras warnte, dass die Kosten für die europäischen Steuerzahler enorm seien.

 

Dial M For Merkel

And something tells me there was a lot of heavy breathing during this telephone conversation, too.

Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made an uncexpected telephone call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that nobody wants to comment about officially.

Bild newspaper reported on Monday that Tsipras had called Merkel as well as Euro group head Jeroen Dijsselbloem to try to convince them of the need for more help for Greece and for the need for an emergency meeting of EU leaders this week.

Bild said the reason for the call is that the Greek government has run out of money

“It’s on fire and there’s no water there to put out the fire. The situation is more than dramatic.”

Plan B For Bankrupt

Tick tock tick tock

Plan B

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hinted on Saturday that Berlin was preparing for a possible Greek default, drawing a parallel with the secrecy of German reunification plans in 1989.

“You shouldn’t ask responsible politicians about alternatives,” Schaeuble answered, adding one only need to use one’s imagination to envisage what could happen.

He indicated that if he were to answer in the affirmative that ministers were working on a Plan B — what to do when Greece runs out of money and cannot pay back its debt — he could trigger panic.

“Da ist überhaupt nichts dran. Der Plan B wurde nicht diskutiert.”

Why Are These Eurosceptic Parties Winning?

The professional Europeans in Brussels made clear that they don’t want this to happen.

Alternative

So what do they do then? They do what they always do: Ignore what just happened and carry on with EU business as usual, whatever that is. Well, one thing we do know about EU business as usual in the meantime is that it is carried out by a Brussels political elite that Jane and Joe European simply does not understand nor feel represented by.

Not that anyone out there cares or anything, but the voter turnout for this latest round of European elections was absolutely pathetic and those who did vote voted in one-fifth of the new European Parliament’s seats to political parties critical of the EU’s previous policy, whatever that was. You would think that the elite would finally get the message here, right? Nope. It ain’t happening. And that’s why it ain’t happening with Europe.

I know. Why doesn’t Brussels consider acknowledging this overwhelming European apathy and start respecting how those Europeans who did vote have voted and slowly start the process of giving back competencies to the countries in question? You know, decentralize and let Europeans start deciding more for themselves at the local level again? Na. Wozu (what for)? If it wasn’t decided in Brussels, it didn’t happen.

Für den schlichten Normaleuropäer sei der schwierige Konsensfindungsprozess in der EU zu komplex. Der leider etwas beschränkte Bürger wisse gar nicht, wie gut die EU für ihn sei. So redet sich die „europäische Elite“ das Wahlergebnis schön und blendet die Tatsache der drastisch schwindenden Zustimmung aus.

PS: Speaking of winning, Tempelhof loses. I mean wins?

I’ll Bash Germany With The Best Of Them

But… How is it that its critics blame Germany for the high unemployment, declining living standards, and riots to their South?

Germany

If this were a football game, the referee should call unnecessary roughness for piling on Germany. The American Left led by Paul Krugman (The Harm Germany Does and Those Depressing Germans) excoriates Germany for forcing austerity on the rest of Europe. The U.S. Treasury and others (no newcomer to spending) demands that miserly Germany spend more to pull the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) out of their economic doldrums…

I interpret the liberals’ German bashing as having an entirely different motivation – their inherent dislike of economic success… In the liberal mind set, success must be equally shared. If one person, company, or country is better off, it must be at the expense of those who are less well off. We need to even things out in their zero-sum world.

PS: And I’m going to go even further out on the limb tonight defending Germany by predicting that they will finally – after 19 encounters? –  beat Italy.

Springtime For Merkel And Germany

In the end, the Cypriots swallowed the bitter medicine. Facing national humiliation and a bleak future many complain their small nation has been forced to succumb to the will of a larger, merciless power – Germany.

Cyprus

And the Germans also have a clear and consistent analysis of the problem. They believe that fiscal profligacy or faulty business models lie at the heart of the crisis – and the solution is austerity, allied to structural reform. There are many who argue that this prescription is dangerous. But the anti-austerians have failed to come up with a set of alternative policies that is coherent enough to turn the intellectual tide.

…This Germanophobia is unfair. Behind all the shouting and the wrangling, German taxpayers will once again be funding the biggest single share of yet another eurozone bailout.