German media mock U.S. advice on debt crisis
The popular response, in a nutshell: Mind your own business, Amerika.
President Obama scolded Europe on Monday, saying its inability to contain the crisis was “scaring the world.” He continued to hold European policymakers’ feet to the fire on Wednesday, saying “we haven’t seen them deal with their banking system and their financial system as effectively as they needed to.”
Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner called on policymakers to “create a firewall against further contagion,” and supposedly has urged the European Union to commit trillions more euros to its bailout fund for member states and their banks -- an idea that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called “stupid.”
Spiegel Online on Wednesday published a collection of German media commentaries firing back at the U.S. Most biting was this one from the financial daily Handelsblatt:
Barack Obama governs a country where, despite billions in state aid, the economy is stagnating, companies refuse to invest despite calls for patriotism, and which gets embroiled in one political trench war after another.... Now this country is dispensing advice, suggestions and finger-pointing.
These are suggestions that have already failed to work in the U.S.: Money is supposed to save Europe -- quickly and in the largest quantities possible. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner has been trying for more than two-and-a-half years to suffocate his crisis with money. But aside from the lack of success, the collateral damage is immense. It manifests itself in a loss of government credibility, a loss of trust in the currency and the paralysis of any sort of dynamism -- because the crushing debt mountain is robbing the famously optimistic Americans of their confidence.
The fact that Barack Obama, who is a brilliant thinker, knows full well that things are much more complicated in reality does not help. Indeed, it does the opposite. In the desperate battle for his re-election he'd rather construct myths, such as claiming that the Europeans alone are responsible for the American mess. Not only is this fundamentally wrong, but -- coming as it does from a friend -- it's downright pitiful and sad.
The German parliament is set to vote Thursday on a proposal to expand the scope of the European Union's current $600-billion bailout fund.
-- Tom Petruno
Follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/tpetruno
Photo: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Credit: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg News