Germany’s Economic Mirage
For 60 years, successive German governments sought a more European Germany; but now, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration wants to reshape Europe's economies in Germany’s image. This would be a disaster: Far from being Europe’s most successful economy – as German officials boast – Germany’s economy is dysfunctional.
LONDON – For 60 years, successive German governments sought a more European Germany. But now, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration wants to reshape Europe’s economies in Germany’s image. This is politically unwise and economically dangerous. Far from being Europe’s most successful economy – as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and others boast – Germany’s economy is dysfunctional.
To be sure, Germany has its strengths: world-renowned companies, low unemployment, and an excellent credit rating. But it also has stagnant wages, busted banks, inadequate investment, weak productivity gains, dismal demographics, and anemic output growth. Its “beggar-thy-neighbor” economic model – suppressing wages to subsidize exports – should not serve as an example for the rest of the eurozone to follow.
Germany’s economy contracted in the second quarter of 2014, and has grown by a mere 3.6% since the 2008 global financial crisis – slightly more than France and the United Kingdom, but less than half the rate in Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. Since 2000, GDP growth has averaged just 1.1% annually, ranking 13th in the 18-member eurozone.
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