German Economic Policy: Smart or Just Plain Selfish?


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Germany has been taking a lot of criticism for its economic policies lately. As a country that has done well for itself in hard times, Germany must now face its disgruntled neighbors, who are frustrated and resentful that it has not done more to support domestic trade.

In an article published in the International New York Times, authors Jack Ewing and James Kanter write, “resentment toward Germany in the euro zone has boiled up from the fringes of the region’s debt-strapped countries to become part of the official conversation in Brussels.”

A huge trading surplus arising from its numerous exports has had many claiming that Germany is somewhat like the well-fed chief of a starving village. Rather than being a tireless seller of its own goods, they claim that it is Germany’s responsibility to purchase more goods from neighboring regions to help stimulate the economy. However, there are also many who disagree with this claim, instead commending Germany for having smart policies in tough economic times.

“Germany is criticized for running a large trade surplus and is encouraged to consume more at home. But how can it be criticized for making things that people in other countries actually want to buy? And why encourage Germans to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have?” asks Sean King of Park Strategies, in a response letter to the Times. King notes that Germany’s competitiveness in the market is also partially due to the fact that the euro is so weighed down. He adds, “Germany’s trade surplus and responsible spending habits should be commended — not condemned.”

Reginald Zell of Bures-sur-Yvette, France, agrees that Germany shouldn’t be held responsible for the overall poor state of the European economy. He says, “The European economy is in a profound crisis: Every citizen is aware of this. To suggest that Germans should buy Alpha-Romeos and take vacations in Greece to solve the crisis is a joke.”

Germany, which recently reelected Chancellor Angela Merkel, is just two weeks away from wrapping up negotiations between her conservative bloc and new coalition partners, the Social Democrats. Though the country has had recent trade surplus, the economy certainly isn’t infallible and Germany’s leaders will need to decide whether they can do more to support the rest of Europe without putting their own citizens’ prosperity at risk.

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