An answer from the German Ministry of Finance to the letter of five economists to Angela Merkel? Not quite!
Ludger Schuknecht, the head of the Department for “Fiscal and Economic Policy Questions” at the German Federal Department of Finance, responded in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) to the open letter that Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik, Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs and Simon Wren-Lewis wrote to Angela Merkel on July 7. According to the SZ, Schuknecht is ‚chief economist at the Ministry of Finance.‘ This position does not exist formally given that neither the minister nor any of the deputies of the minister are economists – they are all lawyers.. Perhaps Schuknecht is doing the job nevertheless.
The reaction, however, does not indicate that the ‚chief economist‘ is ready for an open debate.
The message of the five economists is very clear and straightforward. In their message to Merkel, they wrote: „The Greeks have complied with much of Angela Merkel’s call for austerity – they cut salaries, cut government spending, slashed pensions, privatized, deregulated and raised taxes. But in recent years, the series of so-called adjustment programs inflicted on Greece and other crisis countries has served only to make a Great Depression; the likes of which have been unseen in Europe since 1929-1933. The medicine prescribed by the German Finance Ministry and Brussels has bled the patient, [...]