Planet Money
3:14 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Why Germany Keeps Saying No

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 3:45 pm

The euro zone's largest economies all seem to agree that their currency union needs "more Europe, not less," as IMF chief Christine LaGarde recently put it.

Spain, Italy and France have been pushing for Europe-wide bank guarantees, and bonds backed by all eurozone countries.

But so far, Germany isn't on board.

Most articles on the subject contain phrases like this:

One big reason Germany is wary: It's their money on the hook. Germany is the richest economy in Europe, it's the country anchoring the bailouts, and it's got the best credit in the eurozone.

But it's not just money. Germany fears a lack of control. German leaders think if they intertwine themselves more closely with the rest of Europe — without having some control over the actions of other countries — they will once again be on the hook for bailing out their neighbors.

In the words of Sabine Lautenschläger, vice-president of the Germany's central bank:

"Whoever accepts liability also has to have a right to control, especially when it is potentially a question of very large sums as in the case of a banking crisis."

Basically, she's saying, whoever is on the on the hook should get to make the rules, because we're talking about a lot of money here.

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