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David Guyatt
03-19-2009, 09:44 AM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/


Germans want dose of discipline

Mark Mardell | 08:15 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/merkel203getty.jpg

Germany's Angela Merkel seems in an uncharacteristically feisty mood ahead of today's meeting of leaders of the European Union's 27 countries. Perhaps it's the whiff of the German general elections in late September that's turned this deal-maker into a fighter.

She's arguing hard that the EU should go into next month's G20 summit with a demand for tough new rules on the world's financial system. It's a popular belief in Germany and on much of the continent that loose Anglo-Saxon rules got us into this mess and the British and Americans need strict rules to curtail their natural attraction to dodgy business practices. That, she believes, should be the priority - not cutting taxes and spending more, as the US is demanding.

She and France's President Sarkozy don't really get on, but they've made common cause on this. Their joint letter argues:

"We are determined to get concrete results at the London summit to reinforce financial regulations... the EU must argue that hedge funds and other institutions which create a systematic risk are put on a register and subjected to appropriate rules and supervision."

Of course it is a question of degree. Few think no new rules are needed. Few think that the world economy doesn't need a kick-start. But it is a question of where the G20 puts the emphasis.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman put the case in Brussels earlier this week for the view that tax cutting and spending should be the priority, while also arguing that Brussels should have more power and the relatively generous social security systems in Europe might be our salvation.

For a neat riposte you can hardly do better than read the thoughts of Chevelle, a self-styled bond girl, philosopher, economist and ex-concert pianist.

Mrs Merkel also goes into the summit demanding that the EU's very own 5bn-euro stimulus package should not help build the Nabucco pipeline. The plan would mean gas from Azerbaijan travelling in a pipe through Turkey and the Balkans to Western Europe. This is "energy security": an alternative to relying on Russia. Mrs Merkel's move is seen as a sign of cosying up to Mr Putin at the expense of European allies, and will anger and disappoint some at the summit. She's also asking that the rules make it clear that some of the 5bn euros can be spent on helping German internet providers.

I've just come back from a couple of days in Berlin, where some think there's a sea change in the relationship between Germany and the EU. It's striking that most people I spoke to think their chancellor's stand, demanding tight new rules as a top priority, is just plain common sense. Making money to invest and save, rather than splash out, is deep in the national psyche.

That's why there's also doubt about any plans to bail other countries out of trouble. Germany may stump up the cash if a country like Ireland or Greece gets into such deep waters that the euro is in peril. It doesn't mean they have to like it. I'm pretty sure this will be discussed at the summit, if not mentioned in public. Ulrika Guerot of the European Council on Foreign Relations told me:

"Germany is in a difficult situation: we were the one EU country that really restructured industry. We got our deficit down, we did our homework. Now it appears that a couple of countries didn't do so. So there is the legitimate question: "Why should Germany now bail out the others that didn't do their homework?"

She however thinks Germany should act if necessary. She worries this caution is symptomatic of a profound change in Germany towards the EU. "Germany has been much more looking to the [European] Council, much less to the Commission, less to the European Parliament. We've been less engaged in European projects. Germany today no longer has the same European convictions that it had 10 or 15 years ago. There are some paradigms of German European policymaking that are falling short or falling apart. There is something in the sheer institutional architecture that will undergo tectonic shifts and if Germany does not hold them together no other country can."

That's a long way from clamping down on naughty Anglo-Saxons, but Mrs Merkel's assertiveness may be about more than just catching the voters' eye.

(my bolding)

Magda Hassan
03-26-2009, 01:50 AM
I don't know. Deutsche Bank was happy enough to take toxic crap as AAA+ collateral. It's just that the music stopped before they got to pass on the parcel of crap. What does that say about them?

David Guyatt
03-26-2009, 08:27 AM
I'm not at al sure that Deutsche bank is truly German these days. Guess who bought out Buzzy Krongard's old pew after he merged it with the fraudulent Bankers Trust, and then rode into the sunset at Langley? Deutsche bank's buyout of BT saved the necks of BT which was implicated in an escheatment lawsuit after the Head of the bank's Corporate Trust and agency group pled guilty and served time in the terribly awful "community service" smack-on-the-hand-don't-be-a-naughty-boy-again for of white collar crime punishment regime.

So sad.