Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Currency Crisis: German Central Bank Opposed to Merkel's Euro Course

SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL: The new Bundesbank president, Jens Weidmann, used to be one of Merkel's closest advisers. Now, he is one of her staunchest critics over the euro rescue. He is strictly opposed to the European Central Bank's policy of buying up bonds from debt-stricken countries -- and is winning a growing number of allies for his cause.

Jens Weidmann knew what would happen, but he had to make the joke anyway. He owed it to himself and to his new position as head of the Bundesbank, Germany's central bank.

"Did you leave so much space between us on purpose?" he asked German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble with a cheeky grin. Indeed, the podium that had been set up for their joint press conference on Friday in Washington really did have generous dimensions, leaving enough space for two or three people between them.

Schäuble examined the distance between them. Then he answered, with a pained smile: "We did that because of your independence."

One of Merkel's Fiercest Adversaries

Germany is marveling at a breathtaking shake-up of political roles. For five years, Weidmann served as an economic adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel. During that period, he was loyal to her, even seeming too keen at times. But now, in his new role as president of the Bundesbank, he has become one of her fiercest adversaries.

Weidmann has criticized decisions related to the euro bailout as "inconsistent" and "highly risky." He has called on politicians in Berlin to change their course, and he has been advocating "the Bundesbank's principles regarding stability." All of those things put him at odds with top officials at the European Central Bank (ECB). » | SPIEGEL Staff | Monday, September 26, 2011