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Germans wonder if they should drop the Euro

Kyle James Feb 9, 2011

Germans wonder if they should drop the Euro

Kyle James Feb 9, 2011


JEREMY HOBSON: The German government would rather not pay for any more European bailouts. So German officials are asking other European leaders to install deficit limits. As for the German people? Well many of them are ready to ditch the Euro currency altogether.

Kyle James has the story from Berlin.

KYLE JAMES: Forty-seven-year-old Jorg Schulte isn’t happy with the money in his wallet. It’s not the amount, but the fact that they’re not Deutschmarks.

JORG SCHULTE: Everything has gotten more expensive since we switched to the Euro. And all the money we’re giving to other countries like Greece, it just isn’t right.

A lot of Germans don’t like the fact that they’re largely financing big bailouts for Greece and Ireland to keep those troubled economies afloat. Portugal and Spain could be next. All the economic turbulence has sparked worries about the Euro’s long-term stability. One survey found well over half of Germans think they’d be better off with the good old Deutschmark.

Irwin Collier is an economist at Berlin’s Free University.

IRWIN COLLIER: Germans are never happy in a chaotic environment, they want to see order. Right now they have that sense of things getting undone, coming out of control.

The opposition to the Euro is getting louder. A recent book slamming the Euro shot up the bestseller list. And Jurgen Elsasser, a journalist and author, is trying to build a grassroots movement to demand that Germany just say “no” to the common currency.

JURGEN ELSASSER: We are afraid of a breakdown of the Eurozone and we are looking for a way out, out of this mess.

It’s not as if Germans are hunkered down, stuffing money in mattresses. The economy’s booming now, and consumer spending is up slightly. But economists say dumping the Euro would rock the confidence of the markets. Again, Irwin Collier.

COLLIER:The unwinding of such intricate relations can take time. At precisely such times, investors, consumers decide to wait, to let things sort out. They’ll save rather than spend. So you could expect a serious recession.

German politicians appear to agree. Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month there would be no return to the Deutschmark, on her watch at least.

In Berlin, I’m Kyle James for Marketplace.

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