Mutually Assured Disillusionment

And here you thought that the Germans could bitch and moan about Europe.

Moan

And boy can they ever. But the reigning Weltmeister of Whining is now suddenly getting some unexpected stiff competition from France, of all places (with Spain, Italy and Greece picking up speed in the griping department, too).

“No European country is becoming more dispirited and disillusioned (with Europe) faster than France,” according to a Pew Research Center report, released in Brussels and Washington. “The French are negative about the economy, with 91 percent saying it is doing badly, up 10 percentage points from 2012.”

France’s malaise with the European Union’s outlook is more similar to sentiment in Spain, Italy and Greece than it is to the mood in Germany, which is the only EU nation of eight surveyed where at least half the public backed giving more power to Brussels to deal with the economic crisis.

So let’s get with it already, Germany. This race ain’t near over with. We (as in you) can do this. When the going gets tough, the tough get moaning.

“Deutsche leben mental auf ihrem eigenen Kontinent.”

Germany Not Trying To Dominate Europe

Honest. Why try when it comes so naturally?

Gauck

No, seriously folks. Poor German President Joachim Gauck. He certainly means well (and somebody’s talking head has to say this stuff, I guess), but how can you not think that Germany is imposing a “diktat” on the rest of the continent when he goes out of his way to tell you that Germany is not imposing a “diktat” on the rest of the continent?

“In Germany, more Europe doesn’t mean a German Europe. To us, more Europe means a European Germany.”

Well, nice try, but you forgot about the German European Germany variation. It’s not that we don’t trust you, Germany. It’s just that we don’t trust you. It’s called the BKB Syndrome (or at least that’s what I call it). You know, The Big Kid on the Block Syndrome? It’s incurable and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it and you’re guilty until proven guilty so just go ahead and kick back and get used to the situation (as if you weren’t already). And, oh yeah, welcome to the club already, too.

“I was shocked to see how quickly perceptions became distorted, as if today’s Germany stood in the tradition of German imperialism, even of German crimes.”

Merkozy This Is Not

How about Hollmerk?

The two capitals (Berlin and Paris) always begin from very different positions, whether there is a socialist or conservative administration in Paris.

The concern in Berlin is over what is seen as the absence of a clear strategy on eurozone reform from the new French government. There is a deep suspicion that France is happy to have a weaker euro, higher inflation, and a looser monetary policy than Germany.

Mr Hollande’s refusal to incorporate the recent “fiscal compact” into the French constitution is one reason that Germany is now pushing for every country to sign a bilateral budget “contract” with the European Commission, that can be enforced by a powerful budget commissar… But Paris regards Ms Merkel as being overly focused on building deeper European political integration in a way that ignores deep-seated reticence in France reflected in the 2005 referendum defeat of the then-planned EU constitution. 

This Still Doesn’t Beat Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

But it comes close.

Many euroskeptics clearly just don’t get it. Of course the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is “beyond parody,” “laughable” and an “April Fool’s Joke.” That’s been the whole point of the thing for years now.

Hasn’t it?

In Britain, Friday’s award has been the subject of particularly heated commentary. Iain Martin, a columnist with the conservative Daily Telegraph dismissed the prize as “beyond parody.” He writes that the prize has been awarded prematurely because “we have no idea how the experiment to create an anti-democratic federation will end.” Besides, he writes, “daftest of all is the notion that the EU itself has kept the peace.” Instead, he writes, it was the Brits and the Americans who brought peace to the Continent.

Even the EU-friendly Economist columnist Charlemagne writes, “Hmmm,” questioning the timing of the award, given that the EU is currently threatened with a break-up.

Germans Just Love The ECB’s New Bond-Buying Program

Not.

Which brings us to our next topic: The latest greatest German angst survey. A new study by R+V Versicherung (insurance) has just found out what Germans loved to be scared of most these days: The climbing cost of living (63 percent of those asked).

Außer den “Standard-Ängsten”, die die R+V Versicherung seit zwanzig Jahren bei 2500 Deutschen abfragt, stehen alljährlich auch aktuelle Themen zur Debatte.

So Much For That Shootout

I still don’t know who Gary Cooper was here, but Mario Draghi just went from “I will do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” (and buy up Spanish and Italian bonds) to “the ECB may consider” doing so at a later date.

Needless to say, the markets were not amused. Cherchez la femme, I’d say (and it ain’t Grace Kelly).

What’s the hold up? Germany, perhaps. During a press conference afterwards, ECB vice-president Vítor Constâncio noted that only one member of the ECB was adamantly opposed to bond purchases. This seems to be a reference to Germany’s Bundesbank, which had vigorously opposed a central-bank bailout of Spain and Italy. And even though the Bundesbank doesn’t have a direct veto over ECB actions, it seems Germany, as the richest country in the euro zone, still has plenty of sway.

“For all the criticism of Merkel, she distinguishes herself from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic in that she has a plan.”

It’s High Noon

But which one is Gary Cooper?

Big spending Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank boss who is shooting for the outright central-bank purchase of European sovereign debt, or lonely Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann (and pretty much the rest of conservative Germany) who is gunning to resist such a move as it would “dilute debt-laden governments’ incentive to reform, and lumber the central bank with too many risks and responsibilities, endangering its independence and credibility.”

And more importantly, who is Grace Kelly here and where is she when we need her?

“I will do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.”

The Lesser Of Two Evils

“Finally, a rating agency showed a sense for good timing. The announcement could hardly have come at a better time: Moody’s casts doubts on Germany’s top rating. The rating agency provided its top grade “AAA” rating with a negative outlook. This is perfect timing for the debate which has taken place these past few days concerning additional help payments to Greece.”

“The agency gives two main arguments behind taking this step, and they should be clear to everyone.

First there is the danger that Greece would leave the euro: Then the danger of further contamination for other countries like Italy and Spain would be a threat.

But secondly there is another, far greater danger: If none of these countries leave the euro, then financially weak states would have to be supported indefinitely by the stronger ones.”

“Germany continues to find itself in a very solid economic and financial situation.”

The End With Horror

No horror here. Or terror, if you prefer. How does that German proverb go? Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende?

That is, better an end with horror than a horror without end. And that’s where we’re at with Greece now, finally.

German Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said he’s “very skeptical” that European leaders will be able to rescue Greece and the prospect of the country’s exit from the euro had “lost its terror.”

Get it over with already, people, and move on.

172 Economists Can’t Be Wrong

Right? Right.

We have to approach this differently, folks. Pick an economist. Pick five. Find one that has ever been right. When it comes to dire warnings about the future, I mean.

Sure, I don’t like the idea of Angela Merkel deciding “to agree to allow eurozone bail-out funds to support sinner states” either, but if 172 economists are all hot and bothered about it, then maybe it wasn’t such a bad decision after all.

“First of all, this is about better banking supervision, and one can only say that that is urgently necessary.”