Some thought that German chancellor Angela Merkel would quietly take the abuse heaped on her, and her program of "austerity" (or deleveraging as we call it, but that just does not have quite the negative connotations of a word that has become symbolic for all that is wrong with a massively overlevered world) by the new French president and Germany's increasingly more insolvent "partners", without much of a fuss.
That changed over the weekend, following a Spiegel article titled "Merkel prepares to strike back against Hollande." Now, as Bloomberg reports, the German retaliation is picking up speed, following a thinly veiled threat from the former German finance minister, who basically said that French bonds are unlikely to continue seeing the flight to safety bid they have been enjoying recently, once the rating agencies cut France even more from its one vaunted AAA rating, where Moody's and Fitch still have the country (following the S&P downgrade to AA+ in January), but likely not for long now that Germany has spoken.
Former German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said French President Francois Hollande’s proposals may have an impact on the country’s credit rating, Bild newspaper reported, citing an interview to be published tomorrow.
“Investors and rating companies will naturally take a close look at the course France sets,” Bild quoted Steinbrueck as saying in response to a question about French proposals to lower the retirement age and tax top earners at a higher rate. “That can have consequences for France’s credit rating.”
No need for blustery rhetoric or pompous oratory: two sentences and the French ego balloon just got popped.
What is more important than whether or not France gets an official downgrade warning, is that Germany refuses to pursue some form of Nash equilibrium, so critical for Europe attaining a conciliatory middle ground, and instead continues to defect at every opportunity.
And now, with Hollande presumably silenced, it is Mario Monti's turn.