A few days before the German federal election, the American commentator Bob Kuttner called upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel to use the election victory that was clearly in the making to change tack regarding the European Periphery.
Focusing on Greece, Kuttner added to a chorus of commentators who have called for a Marshall Plan, accompanied by a generous degree of debt forgiveness, as a ‘second phase’ of the program of budget austerity and reform imposed on Greece over the past three years. Kuttner even suggested labeling it The Merkel Plan, so as to afford the Chancellor a timeless legacy for genuine ‘tough love’, as opposed to being permanently remembered, at least in the Mediterranean, for unremitting heartlessness toward citizens of countries bankrupted when the Eurozone’s architecture was found wanting.
The problem with Kuttner’s noble suggestion is that Germany cannot afford such largesse. For it is impossible to imagine that Greece will be treated to a therapeutic combination of debt relief and large scale investments without similar overtures towards at least Portugal and Ireland, the other two original ‘fallen’ Eurozone member-states which, it must be said, had sunk less into the mire of debt than Greece and have since displayed a great deal more ‘moral enthusiasm’ for adopting austerity measures.