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Predictable Disasters

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Above: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Nobody could have predicted that policies that don’t make any sense in theory and have been disastrous in practice when tried before would fail again:

With political allies weakened or ousted, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s seat at the head of the European table has become much less comfortable, as a reckoning with Germany’s insistence on lock-step austerity appears to have begun.

“The formula is not working, and everyone is now talking about whether austerity is the only solution,” said Jordi Vaquer i Fanés, a political scientist and director of the Barcelona Center for International Affairs in Spain. “Does this mean that Merkel has lost completely? No. But it does mean that the very nature of the debate about the euro-zone crisis is changing.”

A German-inspired austerity regimen agreed to just last month as the long-term solution to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has come under increasing strain from the growing pressures of slowing economies, gyrating financial markets and a series of electoral setbacks.

Spain officially slipped back into recession for the second time in three years on Monday, after following the German remedy of deep retrenchment in public outlays, joining Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte handed his resignation to Queen Beatrix on Monday after his government failed to pass new austerity measures over the weekend.

It’s worth noting at this point that, prior to the German-led effort to insure that the financial crisis inflicted far more devastation in the European economy than was necessary, Spain had been more “fiscally responsible” than Germany. The morality tale here isn’t about profligacy, it’s about incompetent, reactionary elites promoting terrible policies.

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