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Germany’s slow economic growth worries economists
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: If Europe is one big machine made up of many parts, Germany is its main engine. The biggest economy of ’em all. But today, the country reported second quarter GDP growth of just one-tenth of a percent. And today German leader Angela Merkel meets with French president Nicolas Sarkozy about bolstering an anemic European economy and the debt problem, of course, that’s plaguing the continent.
The BBC’s Steve Evans is with us now live from Leipzig, Germany, with the latest. Hi Steve.
STEVE EVANS: Hello, yeah, you’re absolutely right, these figures for both Germany and the Eurozone are very disappointing, pretty-well flat-lining. Naught-point 1 percent growth in the second three months of the year, for Germany, naught-point two percent for the Eurozone. And everybody had hoped that Germany would pull the rest of Europe out of the brink towards recession. If it’s a trend, clearly it won’t, maybe it’s a blip, but that’s not the way they’re reading it here.
CHIOTAKIS: Steve, during the European debt crisis, Germany has been the lynchpin, right, to saving the Euro. Is that going to threaten that now?
EVANS: I think it does threaten it — two things really. If the European economy slows down, all those countries which are finding difficulty — Greece, Portugal, maybe Italy — will have lower tax revenues, so their problems will get worse. But on top of that, German taxpayers have become increasingly reluctant to put their hands in their pockets and pay money to Southern European countries that they see as profligate. Now, there’s a more complicated argument here, which isn’t aired in Germany which is that German banks would be in trouble if Greek banks got into difficulty, for example. There’s no doubt that German tax payers, German voters are more reluctant to payout.
CHIOTAKIS: And does this threaten — this slow growth in Germany — threaten a new European-wide recession?
EVANS: Yeah, clearly, it’s the big engine — it’s the big engine on the global economy. It’s neck and neck with China as the world’s biggest exporter. It’s a big economy in anybody’s book. If Germany slows, it’s been one of the conspicuous success stories, growing a lot faster than other European economies, a lot faster than the U.S. economy by selling to China. As China industrializes increasingly, it takes German machinery to do that, so if Germany starts slowing, it’s bad news for everybody on both sides of the Atlantic.
CHIOTAKIS: All right, the BBC’s Steve Evans in Germany today. Steve, thank you so much.
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