There were two articles today that exist in direct contradiction to each other in substance, but when taken together reveal how ECB President Draghi and IMF Director Lagarde HOPE to punish and repress the German saving class in an effort to salvage the EU via the alleviation of debt owed by the so-called peripheral nations. The first article of significance is an op-ed piece by the FT’s Wolfgang Munchau titled, “Draghi, Schauble and the high cost of Germany’s savings culture.” The article lays it on the line that the Germans bear a great deal of responsibility for the ECB’s negative interest rate policy because of Chancellor Merkel’s push for austerity budgets to correct the massive deficits of the heavily indebted “peripheral” nations of the EU. The Germans were pushing themselves into AUSTERITY simultaneously by pushing forward a law on its own BALANCED BUDGET RULE. The battle cry from Germany was growth through austerity. In July 2012, when the debt plagued EU was on the verge of financial collapse, the profligate peripherals were willing to accept any demands put forward by the Germans in an effort to gain access to the Berlin credit card. As Munchau notes: “If German fiscal policy had been neutral during that period, the ECB’s job would have been easier. It would have been able to achieve its inflation target and would not have had to cut rates by as much.”
German intransigence on the issue of budget profligacy means that the ECB will extract German wealth through financial repression, which means the that the frugal burghers will be taxed through negative interest rates to bail out the debt-burdened peripherals. Germany will be forced to share its current account and budget surpluses with the entire EU by direct transfer payments or financial repression.
Late Monday, IMF Director La Garde was quoted in an FT article, “IMF Calls For ‘More Dynamic’ German Economy.” The IMF is attempting to push Germany to undertake massive fiscal stimulus through welfare payments for the settling of refugees as wells public investment on significant infrastructure projects. The IMF has coupled with Larry Summers in promoting fiscal stimulus as an alternative to the questionable effectiveness of NIRP. At this juncture, a massive program of infrastructure investment would lead to an increase in German inflation because the German economy is just about at full employment. The end of German negative output gaps with the commencement of fiscal stimulus would mean pressure on German prices to rise (so say Bernanke and all of the followers of the New Keynesian paradigm.) But would the ECB RAISE RATES TO STEM GERMAN INFLATION WHILE OVERALL EU UNEMPLOYMENT REMAINS ABOVE 10%? The question remains: WHOSE EURO IS IT? The IMF memo “… recommended Berlin implement a number of reform measures to help boost the still fragile economy recovery in the euro area.” An additional problem for the IMF and ECB is that there is no guarantee that enhanced German spending would result in increased growth in Spain, Italy, Portugal et al.