Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Berlin plans stimulus package 2.0

  • Angela Merkel has come under fire for her slow reaction to the global crisis (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The German government is working on a second stimulus package worth "at least" €30 billion, but no decision will be taken until the end of January, when US president-elect Barack Obama is sworn in.

Economy minister Michael Glos discussed a second package during a seven-hour meeting on Sunday between cabinet members and around 30 representatives of industry, trade unions and banks.

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Chancellor Angela Merkel, for a long time under fire for not having responded swiftly enough to the financial crisis, pledged to oversee stronger collaboration between all actors involved. Germany was a "strong country" and these measures would help it to weather the storm, she said.

Two working groups, one on labour markets and the other on financial markets, would be immediately formed, finance minister Peer Steinbruck has said.

However, no decision would be taken before 20 January, when US president Barack Obama takes office. "When the US government puts something on the table, the German government will also have something ready," Bert Rurup, head of the economic mediation council within the German government said after the Sunday meeting.

Berlin would also maintain its line on not cutting VAT rates, as the UK has done recently, but would take "its own measures," Mr Steinbruck said.

According to a draft seen by the Wirtschafts Woche weekly, the second stimulus package would be a "mix of different measures" worth "at least €30 billion."

Its main aim will be to break the vicious cycle of inflation and pay raises. Another measure will be to lower the medical insurance contributions by beefing up the health care fund. A second infrastructure programme, as well as tax cuts for the socially disadvantaged have also been included in the draft.

The package would be mostly funded by external loans.

Meanwhile, Berlin has to failed to revive the inter-bank lending market and might soon be forced to modify its €500 billion bank rescue package, adopted in October.

Politicians led by Ms Merkel and Mr Steinbruck have lambasted the banks for parking their cash with the European Central Bank at very low interest rates instead of lending it to each other or to companies.

Speaking to Der Spiegel, American Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman has accused both Chancellor Merkel and her finance minister, Mr Steinbruck, of still viewing the world as it was a year or two ago, when inflation and deficits were the main economic threats.

Trichet warns on fiscal indiscipline

Meanwhile, fiscal indiscipline in European rescue packages is not to be tolerated, as it could threaten the fragile economic confidence, president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet has told the Financial Times.

But he argued that the European Union's "stability and growth pact", which sets rules on public deficits and debt, offers flexibility to countries with stronger finances. "We would destroy confidence if we blew up the stability and growth pact," he said.

Mr Trichet said the global financial crisis poses a serious threat to industrialised economies. "We cannot afford in the future to put the concept of the market economy at risk as we did."

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Greek bailout talks to 'intensify'

Greece and its creditors will meet in Brussels later this week to unblock negotiations needed for a new tranche of financial aid, amid concerns over the country's economic situation.

Varoufakis back in push for ECB transparency

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and German left-wing MEP Fabio De Masi want to know whether the European Central Bank overstepped its powers when putting capital controls on Greek banks in 2015.

MEPs demand stronger rules against tax evasion

MEPs in the civil liberties and economic committees voted in favour of toughening up EU wide rules on tax evasion, as they gear up for institutional talks in March on the EU's anti-money laundering directive.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

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