Infamous for little boys plugging holes with their fingers and grown-ups plugging their mouth with their foot (D-Boom), it seems Holland, Berlin's most important ally in the goal of greater fiscal discipline in Europe, has fallen into an economic crisis itself. As Spiegel reports, the once exemplary economy is suffering from huge debts and a burst real estate bubble, which has stalled growth and endangered jobs.
The statistics make for some worrisome reading: no nation in the euro zone is as deeply in debt as the Netherlands, where banks have a total of about €650 billion in mortgage loans on their books; consumer debt amounts to about 250% of available income - by comparison, in 2011 even the Spaniards only reached a debt ratio of 125%; unemployment is on the rise; consumption is down; and growth has come to a standstill.
The trouble for Holland is that despite their proclamations of the need for Fiscal conservatism, even EUR46 billion in austerity measures are apparently not enough to keep the nation's deficit within the EU debt limit. The Dutch were long among Europe's most diligent savers, and in the crisis many are holding onto their money even more tightly, which is also toxic to the economy, as "one of the main problems is declining consumption."
The nationalization on SNS in February brought this reality home and as Spiegel reports, "there is no end to the crisis in sight."