It’s no fun being Angela Merkel these days

If she’s hesitant to have Germany take a leading role in tackling the euro crisis, she’s accused of dragging Europe down with her timidity. And if she does attempt to tackle the crisis, she’s met with rants like this:

Europe solves its debt crisis once and for all! (nth edition)

Another day, another LA Times debt story. I worked on this one, which appeared late last night, with the indomitable Henry Chu in London. My contributions, for those curious, included all the stuff from Merkel’s speech and the Bundestag vote, and conversations with a couple of experts.

Looking forward to writing this same story again in oh, about three months.

Everyone’s playing psychologist, so I will too.

It’s kind of amusing to watch all these journalists and economists put on their psychologist hats and try to explain why hard-working, austerity-loving Germans are willing to put their taxpayer euros toward bailing out those lazy, irresponsible Greeks and Italians. I’ve seen all sorts of explanations. The most common one is economic, and it’s got a few different formulations: German businesses rely on Greek and Italian and Irish customers to buy their products; or Germany benefits most from the euro (because it essentially cheapens their exports for foreign purchasers) and won’t allow it to collapse; or the run on banks resulting from an out-of-control Greek default would cripple the entire European (and world) economy.

Another explanation, put forward by NPR’s Planet Money a few days ago, is historic. Germans, the theory goes, are so freaked out by the memory of World War II that they’ll do anything to be good European neighbors, even if it means giving hundreds of billions of hard-earned euros to those no-good southerners.

And in yesterday’s New York Times, we have a third type of explanation, which is purely cultural:

Germans struggle with a national envy. For over 200 years, they have been searching for a missing part of their soul: passion. They find it in the south and covet the loosey-goosey, sun-filled days of their free-wheeling Mediterranean neighbors. […]

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