By Allan Hall
German anger at the 750billion Euro Greek bailout is swelling as world markets slid after initial excitement at the bailout fizzled.
The headline on the front page of Germany’s biggest newspaper, Bild, summed up the national mood, declaring: ‘We are once again the schmucks of Europe!’
Meanwhile world stocks and the Euro dropped sharply today as the massive relief rally triggered by the plan to contain Europe’s debt crisis fizzled out.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 107.88 points, or 2 per cent, at 5,279.54 while Germany’s DAX fell 52.95 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 5,964.96.
The CAC-40 in France was 72.23 points, or 1.9 per cent, lower at 3,648.06.
Meanwhile on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 99.46 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 10,685.68 soon after the open while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 12.02 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,147.71.
All the world’s major indexes enjoyed one of their best days in months yesterday after the European Union unveiled the massive 750billion Euro financial support package to defend the euro and prevent the debt crisis that started in Greece from spreading to other big debtor countries like Portugal and Spain.
‘Markets are giving up a portion of yesterday’s sharp gains as some of the bailout-fuelled euphoria in Europe has died away,’ said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index.
Though the package has helped ease near-term concerns about a wave of defaults across Europe, concerns about the solvency of the indebted countries remain – whether governments, which are still running sky-high deficits, will be able to push through massive austerity measures for years to come.
‘Unless measures are taken to deal with the underlying structural problems affecting the most indebted of eurozone nations, then the bailout package merely kicks the can down the road,’ said Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets.
In Germany, the uncertainties were having a far more immediate effect.
Hard-pressed taxpayers – led by a flailing coalition government that could be the template for one soon to be assembled in the UK – are being asked for more sacrifices to save a currency they never wanted at a time when the country has record postwar debt.
Britain’s bill for the bailout varies between £10bill and £43billion. But there is no doubt on the continent that it is Germany that is picking up the lion’s share of the tab.
Now German citizens have also been told that a tax cut is shelved for at least two years, and will probably never materialise in the life of this administration.’
Last week their chancellor promised Greece over 22billion Euros worth of aid over the next three years.
On Monday that was made to look like loose change when Angela Merkel said Germany’s share to underwrite the currency in total would be 123billion Euros.
Today, Bild said: ‘The EU and the Eurozone want to spend a massive 750billion Euros to save the European currency. Germany alone will have to fork out 123billion Euros for its bankrupt neighbours.
‘There is now not enough money for the planned tax cuts here!
‘Are we really the schmucks of Europe?
‘Chancellor Angela Merkel said: ‘We are protecting the money of people in Germany.’ Really?’
Voters already delivered their verdict on Mrs Merkel’s handling of the Greece crisis by punishing her in a regional election on Sunday which saw her party kicked out of power in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The loss means she loses a majority in the upper-house of parliament in Berlin and will not be able to deliver reforming legislation without the consent of squabbling rivals – an almost impossible task.
There are rumours that the right-wingers in her conservative CDU party are plotting a coup against her – rumours strengthened by the visceral distaste for her latest largesse in trying to prop up the common currency.
‘The biggest ‘all-in’ in the history of poker,’ was how Henrik Enderlein, economics professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, described the massive aid package assembled on Sunday night in an effort to save the Euro from collapse.
Many observers see the measure as delaying the end of the Euro, not preventing it.
Kai Carstensen, an expert at the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research, said: ‘I fear that states will no longer feel any pressure to lower their deficits.
‘Should they not massively reduce their debts, the problems will only be bigger three years down the road because the stronger countries are currently guaranteeing the debts of the weaker ones.’
Europe’s heavyweights could be taking on more than they can handle, he said.