What’s up, Europe? Germans care… about soccer
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Kai Ryssdal: As we said when we got going today, Europe is slowly, but surely, becoming top of mind among people who matter. Ben Bernanke in front of Congress yesterday. And the president this morning, where the first question he was asked was a version of “What’s up, Europe?” Today to Germany, Berlin to be precise. And journalist Thomas Marzhal. Thomas, good to talk to you.
Thomas Marzahl: Thanks for having me on.
Ryssdal: So you know, in these segments my first question usually has been, so what’s the economic mood over there? But I imagine in Berlin it’s not so bad, right?
Marzahl: It’s not so bad because I know I was walking past a newspaper kiosk today and I saw these sensationalistic headlines on one of the newspapers. They actually had a really good way of pulling you in. Greek default. Euro crisis. Banks failing. Record jobless rates all over Europe. And then underneath in really big letters: soccer. Because of course we’ve got the European Championships that kicked off just a few hours ago over in Poland and Ukraine and Germany is the favorite.
Ryssdal: That’s interesting. So it’s not top of mind this whole European crisis thing.
Marzahl: Soccer is spelled with six letters and denial is also spelled with six letters. So you could say it that way. I mean, it’s kind of like we have four weeks of games now and we can kind of tune it all out. And it’s summer, there’s great weather outside.
Ryssdal: It’s like an alternate universe?
Marzahl: We can kind of put it off. Of course, at some point the chickens are going to come home to roost. There is not question about it. I think the Germans know that kind of deep down inside, they can’t keep on sort of keeping the European economy going on their own. But you certainly don’t see big lines at the banks and cities. You seem to see big lines — outside just coming back a few hours ago — the cafes were full of people and the big-screen TVs were on and people were tuning into soccer.
Ryssdal: I imagine this has not been in the German papers so much, but there’s been some sniping over here and some other European papers that really what’s going to happen is it’s not going to be the eurozone any more, it’s going to be the “Germanzone.”
Marzahl: Of course. Germany being Europe’s largest economy, it’s no longer the Franco-German engine, it’s the German engine that is driving things forward. At the same time you have a chancellor who continues to promote Europe. She’s not talking about a German-led rescue, she’s talking Europe, Europe, Europe until she’s blue in the face.
Ryssdal: Yeah, but is anybody listening?
Marzahl: That’s the question. That’s the $10 million question and you know…
Ryssdal: It’s the 10 million euro question man, come on, get the denominations right.
Marzahl: Or maybe the 10 million-dollar Renminbi question.
Ryssdal: Thomas Marzahl in Berlin. Thomas, thank you so much.
Marzahl: Thank you. Take care.
Ryssdal: Coming up next week, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard and Europe as seen from a bar stool. Stephen made the rounds of watering holes in Berlin, Athens, Paris, Madrid and County Cork. Tough work, but somebody’s gotta do it. “A man walks into a bar” Monday.
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