Ganging Up On Germany

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

They’d wanted to “blockupy” Frankfurt, Germany’s money capital, for four days to protest against capitalism, the power of banks, and the wave of austerity policies, and they’d wanted to shut down the financial center with concerts, marches, and speeches. But the city government issued a blanket prohibition—highly controversial in an otherwise democratic country. Blockupy appealed, but the court rejected the appeal on a technicality.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, about 5,000 police officers turned the financial center into a fortress, shut down two subway and commuter rail stations, and installed checkpoints. The ECB building was sealed off. As soon as a few people got together and someone started playing a guitar, police descended upon them and scattered them like roaches. And so it accomplished, ironically, what Blockupy had failed to accomplish: blocking the financial center and shutting down life within it.

Saturday, the one day when demonstrations were allowed, 20,000 people, according to the police, marched through the center—peacefully for the most part. It was an eclectic group of all ages from all over, including topless women with their torsos painted in the glorious blue and yellow of the EU. There were Spaniards, Italians, and lots of French. Two thirds were estimated to be over 30. But there was a common denominator: they accused the political elite of trying to satisfy the financial markets at the expense of the people.

That was the background. In the foreground was the G-8 at Camp David where the leaders of the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, and Russia—but ironically not China, the second largest economy—hobnobbed overnight, though any harmony was soon trampled by President Obama’s reelection campaign, the Eurozone debt crisis, and the dire situation in Greece.

French President François Hollande and President Obama, now best buddies, had their first meeting even before Camp David, and their target was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama had been pushing long and hard for a gigantic debt-funded spending package in Europe. He wanted all the money spigots opened all the way everywhere to give the US economy a short-term boost so that he might survive what shapes up to be a tough reelection campaign, made even tougher by a tottering US economy. A big burst of government spending in Europe, regardless of costs in the future, would briefly filter into the US economy—and thus into the ballot box. “If a company is forced to cut back in Paris or Madrid, that might mean less business for workers in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee,” Obama said after the meeting, fearing that those workers might then not vote for him.

Hollande brought his own agenda. He demanded the introduction of Eurobonds and came out swinging against the nomination of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble to the post of Euro Group President. Back home, his Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault demanded that the ECB fund debt sinner countries, such as Greece, directly to monetize their deficits without the awkward detour via the capital markets. It was a three-pronged approach on their war path against Germany; and Hollande tried to rope in Obama as an ally, after having already roped in Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and others.

Merkel downplayed the attacks ... and her isolation. She is trying to get Eurozone countries to live within their means—an experience that is apparently too painful to contemplate for the others at Camp David. She rejected debt-financed growth programs. Growth would have to come through structural reforms and “investments in the future” such as research and infrastructure. She’d already softened her opposition to Eurobonds, which would shift additional risks and potential losses from other countries to the beleaguered German taxpayer. But she wouldn’t even consider them until after all Eurozone countries had gotten their budget deficits under control, and until after the fiscal union treaty had been ratified—both of which Hollande vigorously opposes. In the end, despite relentless pressure from Obama, Hollande, and others, she won a mini victory by being allowed to say that all had agreed that there had to be a combination of budget discipline and growth policies.

In one point, the G-8 leaders toed the line in unison by stating, if perfunctorily, that they wanted Greece to stay in the Eurozone—even as the ECB, the European Union, and financial institutions are already preparing for Greece’s return to the drachma. And that includes printing new drachma notes. Read.... Rumors, Denials, and Visions of Chaos in the Eurozone.

Greece suffered in 2011. The economy tanked. Unemployment jumped. The government, up to the gills in debt and cut off from the capital markets, went begging, and in return had to implement painful economic reforms. People demonstrated, strikes paralyzed Athens, and street battles were fought with batons, teargas, and Molotov cocktails. A Greek photojournalist captured these violent absurdities in an awesome and at once shocking video.... Horrific Moments of Greece’s Year 2011, in Video.

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phat ho's picture

"Same as it ever was" 


Why do we think the 'robber barrons' of last century ever went away?

bshirley1968's picture

There are some great points on this thread.  I get so much from reading the comments section because there are some bright fellow citizens out there.

That being said, I would like to point out that drachma or not, euro bonds or not, print or not, bailout or not, it doesn't matter, and here is why.

The world as an economy has gone down an unsustainable path.  That includes China.  We have built an economy/society on a consumption basis that requires me to go to a job and make some money so I then can pay you to do for me what I could have done myself if I were not at my job, so you then can pay someone to do for you what you would have done yourself if you weren't at your job, and so on and so on.  An economy based on jobs and consumption is not sustainable.  Not when we develop technology and machines that can take the place of millions of jobs.  Any hiccup in the "circle" of jobs and the system fails.  Like when the population outgrows job production or when production outstrips demand leading to losses of jobs, or when consumption/demand dwindles for the simple reason that the world is full of crap, up to its eyeballs in debt, and there are not enough hours in the day or years in a life to make enough money to pay higher prices for crap of which we already have 12.

Bottom line; the economy has topped out.  We have hit the wall.  There are no "Jobs" to create without some drastic measures being taken.  I bet there are some think tanks out there right now crunching the numbers on a big war and how much of the population we could kill off and make room for this ponzi to keep on trucking.  So we can talk until the cows come home about how to manipulate or game the numbers and it won't matter because this economy cannot and never will sustain the level of debt in the world today.  There will have to be a massive reset of some type, and we all see it coming.

Winston Smith 2009's picture

"Not when we develop technology and machines that can take the place of millions of jobs."

Exactly.  We are in a transitional stage and they are trying to keep the old prosperity alive in the same way it has been for three decades now, via credit, both sovereign and private.

If you have seen the extreme 50s era projections of a world where robots make everything, but have never wondered how people would earn the money to pay for those robotic produced products, you need to start wondering.  Not everyone can earn a living making the robots or programming computers.  We are transitioning into a non-unionized service economy with wages determined in many areas by what telecommuters in less developed countries are willing to earn.  The "robots" for manufacturing products that don't currently lend themselves to robotics are low-paid workers in developing countries.

HAhyperion's picture


War mongers surprised at the karmic related street violence.  At least the G8 and NATO could have been held in the same venue.  That way, the North Atlantic Terror Org, the war mongers working at the behest of the bankers (G8) could have got to it more efficiently.  Serbia threw out their governement (12 EU country to do so), La Gargde appeared on French television, her outfit blending in to the tacky fabric chair she was seated on, her camouflaged zebra fatigues - ie hiding, her cheap vinyl purse held no euro coins, and the USA today reports we have struck a deal to sell drones to IRAQ. 

Ahhh, the brillance or (lack of imagination, dimwittedness) of the machine: the global war machine when economic times are tough.  The cycle the same since the beginning of mankind.

Sad indeed. 

blunderdog's picture

Careful there, son, sounds like you're losing faith in capitalism.

You know what happens when the knights stop searching for the Holy Grail, dontcha?

slackrabbit's picture

If I was any country in the EU, I'd get out, be that Greece or Germany, France or the Netherlands....everyone wants Utopia, no one wants to pay the bill.....


Keep on stacking...




PS: Dear God, please protect bens printer...just saying...

Azannoth's picture

Merkel must have this 'Hitler in a Bunker' feeling, I almost pity h...eerrrrr errrrr NOT, she deserves to burn like all the rest of the political wacko's trying to impose their Utopian Visions on the rest of Us

Gully Foyle's picture

"that he might survive what shapes up to be a tough reelection campaign, made even tougher by a tottering US economy."


It has been obvious that Obama was simply a place holder, possible head to the UN since Clintons dick got in the way of that plan.

It has been obvious the next guy, Great White Hope, will be marketed as the savior of the economy.

Some angst and controversy has to be created to keep this route seeming like a real nailbiter.

Unless Romney dies or gets caught married to a flock of sheep and attending sheep orgies on weekends, he is the next POTUS.

And he gets two terms.

wonderatitall's picture

like the dog eating racist hatemonger, obama-kony?.....or is that racist for pointing out a racist, eh hippy

Nachdenken's picture

Thilo Sarrazin, German politician, former ECB Board Member, has just published a book "Europe does not need the Euro".  Sarrazin´s last book raised questions about integration (of migrants in German life). Not much new, only something being said out loud and clear in the MSM.  German Finance Minister Schauble has already clubbed Sarrazin, other politicians will soon join the queue to take a bash at the book, and at Sarrazin. An interview with mostly cons is to be read in Focus, the German magazine.

USD bounce to 1,40 EUR and further?

Setarcos's picture


Never mind current shenanigans, I am about half way through watching and LISTENING to:  "The Ascent of Money"

I thought that I had quite a good handle on the rise of banking ... turns out that I do, BUT this four hour documentary is filling-in SO many details, e.g. the form of money in ancient Mesapotamia, no concept of money amongst the Incas, the mistakes the Spanish made, the success of the Medicis in warring, the near-failure of the Rothschilds, the reason why Confederate Bonds were a failure during the US Civil War, how debt is at the core of the US economy, and SO much more ... and I am only two hours in.

OK I am retired and can watch the whole four hours in one go - except for this break to let ZHers know of it and necessary calls of nature - but I think that anyone seriously interested in money, finance and the world we live in (formed by history) should watch and, especially, LISTEN to this documentary.

Personally I watch and listen with an open mind, such that I don't pass judgement on Nathan Rothschild for instance, nor any other actor on the tragic human stage, which only comedy relieves.

How Shakespearean.  Why not?  Shylock is discussed during this documentary ... and how come Jews became money-lenders.

In any case I recommend

(BTW I do like this essay by testosteronepit  though, as a species, we never do anything really new, "under the Sun" ... Eclesiastes is the only book in the Bible I have any real time for (or maybe the book of Job) and an easy way into this is the Byrds:

Now I will STFU and return to the documentary for another couple of hours.


celticgold's picture

im prayin , for rain in california......

silverdragon's picture


Sounds like Russia and China are two monsterous wild cards. It will be interesting seeing how it plays out. Interesting time to be a Game Theorists.

nicxios's picture

One way or another, Germany will bail out banks. They can use Greece as a cover, or not...

Widowmaker's picture

Most do not object to banks, or the world of finance (leverage/fiat/etc).  They object to incorporated fraud, cheating, stealing -- and their government used as the proxy to skin them alive while beating them with their own rights.

Setarcos's picture

True, I think.

No one ever minded high street/main street banks ... the boring 3-6-3 rule ... pay 3% to depositors, charge 6% to lenders and be on the golf-course by 3pm.  But greed set in, especially with the advent of credit cards initially.

Not uncommon to charge 15%+ interest on debt, compared with if, still, you can get a personal loan at around 5% ... never mind that the TBTFs get zero interest money from the Fed.

Things are totally out of control.  The casino is stacked to never fail ... though it will eventually, quite soon, because of incorporated fraud, cheating and stealing.

Glass-Steagal used to prevent these crimes, but I see no prospect of that Act being re-instated.

Roger Knights's picture

The black swan in this situation is the German Constitutional Court. A case has been filed objecting to Germany's implicit backing of the LTRO scheme. Based on previous dicta from that court, the complainants will win. No one's talking about this. But it has the possibility of breaking the impasse with a bang.

Nachdenken's picture

There are other black swans to appear from the corner (in German courts as you say).  Will the Judiciary be able to block or divert the Legislature ? Germany is a Rechtstaat - a state run by law.  I hope you are right in the possibility of breaking down the LTRO and working towards the hard and painful route to recovery in and from Europe.

gorillaonyourback's picture

wow,  this is the most pathetic exuse of a story,,,,,,  obama wants votes? hahahahah , depending on populas opinion at the time they will let who ever they want be president. they are both the same

pain_and_soros's picture

It is sad that western world leaders resort to spin to try gain political advantage & undeserved re-election and continually ignore the facts of the situation & the truth, or worse, try to, apparently successfully, manipulate them.

The facts are simple - Greece is bankrupt, so is Spain, Italy & it looks like France as well ...If Germany attempts to bail them out, they'll be bankrupt too, and worse, the short-lived bail-out will not change behaviour or recognition that there is a problem of living on borrowed money (& time)...

If the ECB simply prints enough to wipe out the entire debt, the euro is devalued possibly to nil, which will ironically also result in a similar outcome - the savers will be devastated, but those who are productive will ultimately survive while debtors/consumers will get a reset without having had to change their behaviour...meaning the PIIGS will still have to deal with their own economies being uncompetitive vis-a-vis Germany

The real issue is simple - a lack of sufficient growth in productivity to support & sustain the lifestyle the PIGS have enjoyed by accumulated borrowing over the years - their expectation of compartively better off Germany bailing them out so they can continue adding to their borrowing is unrealistic without improving their productivity and won't happen. 

When push comes to shove, none of the PIIGS will ever exit the euro, despite all the threats since they know a new drachma will simply crush their import based economy, kill funding for their pension & social plans, and not address the fundamental problem of a small tourist/service-based economy that simply isn't productive enough to support & sustain the lifestyle they see other more productive people enjoy...

Mesquite's picture

Peak Government.....The new reality...

steve from virginia's picture


Merkel is mis-informed (or Richter mis-interprets): Germany does not live within its means. It is a massive debtor. It cannibalizes its trading partners. Its first-order products are waste-enablers, a primary reason why those trading partners are ruined.

Being an energy deflation event rather than purely a debt crisis, the ECB is sure to find itself unable to 'print' crude oil or natural gas. This might prove to be a bit of a problem for countries like France which imports almost 2 million barrels of $110 crude every day and must borrow to do so ... from external creditors.

Life is hell, folks ... :)

The sleek, chic Europeans have decided to keep the cars and jettison the countries starting with Greece ... "solved that problem, right?"

Next on the block is Spain then France. Here's a clue for the clueless: jettison the goddamned cars and try to keep the countries. You're going to lose the cars anyway.

Children today ...

Nachdenken's picture


.....are tomorrows debtslaves. 

AnAnonymous's picture

Merkel is mis-informed (or Richter mis-interprets): Germany does not live within its means. It is a massive debtor. It cannibalizes its trading partners. Its first-order products are waste-enablers, a primary reason why those trading partners are ruined.


Or they provide what US citizens want: cheap propaganda.

The situation in the EMU is plain: no one can bail out no one. That is the miracle.Every country lives beyong their means.

Struggle for power to know who is going to be king of the hill, or the ruins pile.

Which is enough for US citizens. Being associated to Germans through biological links, they would prefer to see Germany prevail.

Anything deeper would lead to question US citizenism. And US citizenism is the best thing to ever happen to humanity, right.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymous said:

Or they provide what US citizens want: cheap propaganda.

Impossibility of Chinese citizenism self indiction made me laugh. This is simply a case of wok calling the cooking marmit black.

Anything deeper would lead to question US citizenism. And US citizenism is the best thing to ever happen to humanity, right.

Ah, ah, the jealousy of Chinese citizenism always bubbles up to the top and boils over.

Just more fabled past, Easter Island rewritten historicism, and panda hobnobbery. All Chinese citizenism nature, all eternal.


Tuffmug's picture
Default is not an option. The Drachma is not an option. With a multi-TRILLION dollar world debt-fiat PONZI scheme hanging in the balance, will TPTB allow a piddling Greek debt of 400+ billion to trigger it's potential unravelling? To allow the Greeks to escape the debt trap via default and the Drachma would not only lead to immediate losses and market turmoil but to the more dangerous and destabilizing example for the other PIIGS to follow of a Greece unsaddled from debt that is THRIVING as Iceland is. That is the true CONTAGION that the TPTB fears!  While we can expect in the next month a grand farce played out of "Will the Troika cut them off or won't they?", it is inevitable that some last minute magical refinancing fix will materialize to "save" the Greeks from default and keep them within the Euro fold of the debt enslaved. 
TBT or not TBT's picture

One word:  Spain.   It is bigger, much bigger, and it is going down.  

France will then exit because its banks will be rendered (more) insolvent (insoventer?), and nationalising them will kill France's sovereign debt selling capacity.   

It's all going down, whatever they choose to do with tiny Greece.

apberusdisvet's picture

Far too many don't understand why Greece will never, voluntarily, leave the EURO.  Too many banksters would lose their sinecures.  The derivative contagion would wipe out at least 2/3 of the  banks  that owe their existence to the Rothschild psychos.  Yeah, that includes you Jamie, and you LLoyd.

stocktivity's picture

Merkel downplayed the attacks ... and her isolation. She is trying to get Eurozone countries to live within their means—an experience that is apparently too painful to contemplate for the others at Camp David.

"countries live within their means"  What a great idea. Too bad the other countries led by the United States are dead set against that radical thinking.

John_Coltrane's picture

I believe a good compromise on the future US budget process would be to let a neutral party, say Ron and Rand Paul, be given full power to write the US budget, shut down uncontitutational functions and sequestor enough funds to balance the budget and run the government on a cash flow basis in the future.  Then the FED would be unneeded.    Seems so reasonable to me.

ebworthen's picture

Paper thin promises.

Greece will leave the Euro; then Spain.

Germany will politic for a year or two, but when the call comes to bail out France it will be the end of the Euro and the return to Deutschmarks.

Born-Again Bankster's picture

Merkel will push for a Greek referendum where the Greek people will vote against austerity and for a return to the drachma.  This would devastate the savers in the country, but chances are anyone with enough money to matter already has their money out of the banks.  The end result will be chaos in Greece, but a stronger Euro and the ability to point to Greece as the example they don't want Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland to become.  Then it will be Eurobonds and ECB printing to infinity...because, ya know...they couldn't possibly allow what happened to Greece to happen again.  How they can possible delay this until after November is another question altogether.  I think Barry Obummer is sweating.

ghenny's picture

Looks like all you toads want Putin to take over Europe.  Thats where your line of reasoning is heading.

AurorusBorealus's picture

The Russians are doing as they have always done in times of trouble... playing both sides: East and West to their advantage.  The Russians will likely continue to support bilateral trade and currency agreements between BRIC nations, Iran, and the like and pressure Europe with natural gas supply.  In the process, Russia will weaken the U.S.'s hold over the world as the U.S. dollar and U.S. / Western financial system collapses.

In the tumult that ensues, Russia will switch sides, playing against China, the East, and the other BRICs and siding with the West.  If full-scale war ensues, Russia will end up on the side of the West, but only after they have sided with China et al in bringing down the U.S. system.  This is how Russia has always played it cards and this is how Russia will do so again.  

View From Germany's picture

My prediction for the situation after the great crash:

Newly - with absolute majority - elected German Chancellor Oskar Lafontaine will send his Foreign Minister Gregor Gysi to Moscow to negotiate a far-reaching economic development and cooperation treaty including the building of several top-notch nuclear Reactors, High-speed railways, heavy industry, consumer industry etc. in Russia and in return delivery of natural gas and protection by the Russian nuclear deterrent.

To build confidence between the nations, Gemany will cede the territories of Warmian-Masurian, Podlaskie, Masovian, Lublin, Swietokrzski and Subcarpathian to Russia, while Russia in exchange will cede the territories of Pommeranian, West Pommeranian, Lubusz and Lower Silesia to Germany.

Together, both nations will form an Eurasian economic powerhouse that soon will begin to cooperate with India and China.



stiler's picture

I don't know the political players but I think this guy is spot on. The next big Union that will form after EU caput will be Germany/Russia. 

Oh Yeah.


When you are on the government election toboggan, yelling at the kids at the bottom of the hill to shovel out the ski jump flatter just makes them pile more snow on so the wipe out is even more spectacular than it would have been. Welcome to media news events 101 - mandatory for future MSNBC schills. 

falak pema's picture

the banking cabal wants Merkel to go Eurobond and ECB to print to infinity to avoid bank runs; and domino effects. So she is on the barrel of the gun and its hot! Germany has to make the choice as the price of Euro unity keeps rising as it has from the beginning since 2009 when she imposed her dictat and it became Merkozy's law on ECB independence and NO joint and several.

Now, its either fukk you very very much Greece and we watch the contagion rape Spain, Portugal and then Italy; or its joint and several and Euro bonds and ECB prints to infinity to avoid bank failures of large magnitude. Even if Greece falls, they will have to build a fire wall around Spain/Portugal/Italy/Ireland. Or its goodbye banksta ponzi world wide.

Obviously, the bankers don't want this second option. At any cost. So Merkel has no choice, and yet she knows she is dead at home politically if she says yes to Banker's lobby, especially as in 2012 O'bammy needs election. Catch 22 all the way...

StychoKiller's picture

"BALLS!"  Said the Queen, "if I had two I would be King!"

Hedgetard55's picture

Our own Kenyan Prez (according to his literary agent and his wife, twice on video) demonstrates that he too is a shit for brains when it comes to economics (everything really):


" “If a company is forced to cut back in Paris or Madrid, that might mean less business for workers in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee,” Obama said after the meeting, fearing that those workers might then not vote for him."

Mr.Kowalski's picture

Merkel can only do so much; her electorate and her judicial system won't allow things like Hollande's EuroBonds. 

As we speak, the only thing keeping the Greek and Spanish banks afloat is ECB loans. Should Greece keel over, the ECB will quietly have to be recapitalized. The "bank jog" on the Spanish banks will turn into a stampede, and it's then that Germany must decide to go all in or all out. 

hourglass86's picture

This is your Germany Mr.Richter. Not understanding how surplus/deficit economies should function as well as how Germany dominates, is serious shortcoming.

Zero Govt's picture

isn't Wikipedia a sick joke already? 

Germany does not dominate trade through Govt... its trade surplus is the result of private industry/effort, which has never had anything to do with Govt (public-private shams such as Siemans trains and windfarms excepted)

AnAnonymous's picture

Really? If one is able to deny the german government's actions that much, what is one not able to deny?

The surplus has been enabled by German government line of actions which has supported loans to create client states. One of the main cause for them to join the Eurozone.
No matter how good you are, no customers with liquidity means you do not sell.

But hey, US citizens have a deep trouble with the past because of their own doings. Resulting in deep self perception issues.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


But hey, US citizens have a deep trouble with the past because of their own doings. Resulting in deep self perception issues.

Funny how everything you observe regarding US citizens is also quite descriptive of you. Quite funnily funny, like you're looking into a mirror and projecting your wrongnesses onto the reflection. The reflection is your strawsman.

But hey, when the only tool you have is Chinese citizenism, every problem looks like US citizenism.


Element's picture

no no no! ... it's pronounced Chynereese schitizenism!

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

"Wercome to Shitty Wok, take your order prease."


EclecticParrot's picture

2012 Person of the Year:  Merkel

Time Magazine's likely choice:  Whitney Houston