Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Merkel Legacy Reconsidered

Among the greatest casualties of the Russian war on Ukraine has been the reputation of Angela Merkel. Or so it should be. Writing in the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh calls out Merkel and holds her responsible for the horrors that are currently befalling Germany. And, by the by, Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

He explained:

George W Bush has never issued a mea maxima culpa for his botched war in Iraq. The central bankers who oversaw the credit bubble of the early 21st century have not abased themselves and begged for their reputations. Why, then, should Angela Merkel? 

Irony aside, they all should, not merely beg for their reputations, but accept the shame that befalls those who fail.

What about the Merkel record? Ganesh explains:

The gas dependence on Russia, the turn against nuclear power, the inadequate defence spending: parts of her record as German chancellor have aged as well as milk. But it doesn’t matter whether someone who will never hold office again learns from or even admits their errors. That is not so true of those who cheered her on. Western liberals still have votes and, through preponderance in the media, opinion-forming clout. It matters that they are skirting around their lionisation of the “Queen of Europe” (a title she didn’t court or like) for much of the past decade. It implies that they will not learn the lessons of her tainted legacy. 

Fair is fair, Ganesh continues. As it happens, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson saw clearly the risk entailed in relying on Russia for energy. Merkel did not:

Liberals are not always the best defenders of liberalism. There is no evading the fact that lots of supposed rightwing polecats — Trump, his then secretary of state Rex Tillerson, Boris Johnson in his stint as UK foreign secretary — saw clearly the danger of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline to Russia. Or that politicians as enlightened and house-trained as Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel, her former foreign minister, didn’t.

He concludes by pointing out that liberalism, led by midgets and pygmies, has often failed to defend liberal values. In the Merkel case a misguided optimism and blatant idealism failed to defend the German economy. Which is worse?

Obama, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern, Greta Thunberg, two or three Kennedys, the fictitious Jed Bartlett of The West Wing: in its need for heroes, liberalism is as messianic as the strongman-toasting right. But the Merkel fandom went beyond Warhol-lite posters and schlock TV. It was a worked-out belief that she, in manner and content, was the geometric opposite of populism. Even as a more realistic sense of her record took hold in her valedictory years, she was a “giant among pygmies” and other clich├ęs.

This post would be incomplete without a presentation of the facts on the ground. On the German ground, that is.

Tyler Durden reports them on the Zero Hedge blog. He sources the Financial Times, a thoroughly reliable source:

Earlier today we wrote that Germany's largest landlord, Vonovia, had taken the unprecedented step of restrictring heating at night, a terrifying preview of what lies in stock for the "most advanced" European nation this winter. Alas, it's going to get worse, much worse.

According to the FT, Germany is now rationing hot water, dimming its street lights and shutting down swimming pools as the impact of its energy crunch begins to spread like the proverbial Ice-Nine wave, from industry to offices, leisure centers and residential homes.

The reason behind Germany's slow motion paralysis is well-known: the huge increase in gas prices triggered by Russia’s move last month to sharply reduce supplies to Germany has plunged Europe’s biggest economy into its worst energy crisis since the oil price shock of 1973 (see "What's Unfolding In Europe In Recent Days Is A Fresh Big Negative Supply Shock")

Had enough? Or, want some more?

With electricity prices hitting never before seen levels, gas importers and utilities are fighting for survival while consumer bills are going through the roof, with some warning of rising friction (not to mention the infamous wheelbarrows full of cash).

“The situation is more than dramatic,” said Axel Gedaschko, head of the federation of German housing enterprises GdW. “Germany’s social peace is in great danger.”

And you were happy to see the West stand up and impose sanctions on Russia. Few people noticed that the Western alliance was shaky at best, and that the weak-kneed Western Europeans could barely stand.


Anonymous said...

credit bubble of the early 21st century was 100% the fault of congress. In the name of racial equity they passed laws and forced banks to loan to minorities regardless of their ability to pay. Those laws applied to everyone and indeed it seems everyone applied for a mortgage or a refinance etc. Congress also expanded Freddy and Fannie requiring them to buy these loans from the banks so that the banks would have the cash to make more loans. While it was likely that congress only wanted to create some version of equal opportunity in fact they couldn't have sabotaged the mortgage banking system any better if that had been their goal.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious Germany just wanted to be more like California.

DeNihilist said...

Well she was from East Germany originally, no?

John Fisher said...

Germany is going to be doing everything it can to do a 'Munich' on Ukraine in the next two months.

Fredrick said...

So which energy trading companies are reaping the rewards Enron only dreamed of when the rigged the California energy market?

Anonymous said...

Surely the Germans must still remember what the Russians did to Germany as their part of the end of WW2???

Christopher B said...

DeNihilist, yup. You can take the girl out of the Stasi but you can't take the Stasi out of the girl.

IamDevo said...

Germany is doing its best to recreate the "end of Weimar" scenario. What's next, I wonder?