Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Helmut Kohl Was Right

Economists criticize his decisions on German reunification and the euro, but he understood better the relationship between politics and economics.

Helmut Kohl’s death earlier this month has revived a contentious debate over his legacy. Although the former chancellor of Germany is widely considered to be a political genius, conventional wisdom holds that his economic policy was a failure. It’s time to reassess that view. Kohl was smarter on economics than many professional economists are willing to admit.

The arguments that … [continue reading]

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Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

America First, But Germany Second

If Trump wants a Europe that takes care of its own needs, he needs a strong partner in Berlin.

Donald Trump’s relationship with Angela Merkel has gotten off to a rocky start. Trump has, effectively, singled out Germany and its chancellor as his main nemesis in Europe. He has criticized her for her policy toward refugees, for an unfair trade policy, and for a lack of leadership in Europe. For its part, the German government, alongside many of its European … [continue reading]

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Business Cycles, Growth, Economic Structure Currency and Financial Markets ECB Economic Policy Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Germany’s Misunderstood Trade Surplus

Now that Germany’s current-account surplus has reached a record €270 billion ($285 billion), or close to 8.7% of GDP, the ongoing debate about its economic model has intensified. Eurozone politicians and Donald Trump’s administration in the United States are each blaming the other for the economic imbalance; and all are blaming the euro.

Trump’s administration, for its part, has attacked Germany for exporting too much, and accused it of manipulating the euro. In fact, Germany’s trade surplus has little to … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Curse of the Trade Surplus

This text was published in Handelsblatt Global Edition on February 13, 2017.

The criticism of Germany’s trade surpluses by the U.S. government has caused collective indignation here at home. Much of the criticism is not fair. Accusations that Germany manipulates the euro and misuses the European Union for its own interests are unwarranted. But there is also a kernel of truth that our European neighbors have been voicing for a long time: Germany’s trade surplus is tantamount to protectionism. That’s … [continue reading]

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ECB Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations Macroeconomics Monetary Policy

Statement on today’s meeting of the Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), July 21, 2016

The European Central Bank is facing a difficult dilemma. The slower the euro area economy is growing, the lower interest rates and the harder it becomes for the ECB to implement its public sector purchase program. The ECB has assumed a wait-and-see strategy in the hope that its new measures will be effective and the economy will not deteriorate further. Italy’s banking crisis, more than the Brexit, is an enormous risk for the entire euro area, also for Germany, and … [continue reading]

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ECB Economic Policy Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Making the Eurozone more resilient: What is needed now and what can wait?

This article was first published on VOXEU.org on June 25, 2016. 

Britain voted to leave the EU. This is terrible news for the UK, but it is also bad news for the Eurozone. Brexit opens the door to all sorts of shocks, and dangerous political snowball effects. Now is the time to shore up the Eurozone’s resiliency. The situation is not yet dire, but prompt action is needed. This VoxEU column – which is signed by a wide range of [continue reading]

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Economic Policy Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations Public Finances and Financial Economics

Statement on the result of the Brexit referendum

The Brexit decision is a catastrophe for all Europeans. The economic costs will be enormous for all of Europe. Britain could slide back into recession. We at DIW Belin expect a 0.5 percentage points lower economic growth in Germany in 2017 as a result of lower German exports to the UK alone. The risk is highest for countries such as Italy, which are vulnerable and could slide even deeper into the financial crisis.
I expect major volatility in financial markets … [continue reading]

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Economic Policy Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Germany’s Strange Turn Against Trade

This article was first published on Project Syndicate on June 6, 2016.

The window of opportunity to complete the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union is closing quickly. National elections will be held this year and next in the US, France, and Germany, and the campaigns will play out in an environment that is increasingly hostile to international agreements in any form. The biggest risk might come from the least likely source: … [continue reading]

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Currency and Financial Markets Europe Foreign Trade and International Economic Relations

Greece’s debt burden can and must be lightened within the Euro

by Armin von Bogdandy, Marcel Fratzscher and Guntram B. Wolff on 5th August 2015

Perhaps the greatest damage caused by the confrontation with Greece is a general loss of confidence. If we want to get Greece back to growth, people, companies and investors have to regain confidence in the viability of the country. For this to work, a legitimate and competent government as well as an efficient administration and judiciary are essential. Yet the issue of debt sustainability is … [continue reading]

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