Germany greets QE with almost unanimous criticism

Politicians and economists across the board condemn the ECB policy

Germany’s federal economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, was mildly critical of the ECB move. Photograph: EPA

Germany’s federal economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, was mildly critical of the ECB move. Photograph: EPA

 

The ECB’s bond-buying programme was greeted in Germany by isolated mild praise amid a hail of criticsim of “Draghi doping”.

The euro-critical Alternative für Deutschland leader Bernd Lucke called the quantitative easing (QE) programme an “act of desperation”, while more moderate criticism could be heard right into the government benches.

“I am of view that we cannot leave [the] ECB alone with promoting growth and jobs in Europe, that would leave it swamped,” said federal economics minister Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Politicians and economists across the board condemned the move as further levelling of financial risk onto the shoulders of taxpayers. Bavarian MP Peter Gauweiler said he was already considering a legal challenge against the programme at the constitutional court.

The harshest criticism, from Germany’s hard left and right-wing fringes, described the measures “anti-social and illegal”.

Doping for markets

Left Party deputy leader Sahra Wagenknecht described the programme as “doping for finance markets”, plundering middle-class savings and pensions to “drive up further stock and property prices and make the rich even richer”.

Germany’s banking and insurance lobby groups dismissed concerns the euro area faces a broad-based deflation danger.

Georg Fahrenschon, president of Germany’s public savings banks, said the ECB had moved another step from monetary into fiscal policy and was “putting its independence at risk”.

Across town from the ECB tower, Germany’s conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine daily accused the bank of “burying the principles of the currency union”.

“Despite an apparent liability limit, this will lead to pooling of multibillion risks,” it thundered.

The vast majority of German economists attacked the move – Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn called it “illegal state financing” – with only a few isolated voices welcoming the programme.

Economist Marcel Fratzscher, head of Berlin’s DIW economic institute said the bond-purchases would benefit Germany by “making the euro more stable, protecting our foreign investment and cranking up German exports”.

Family-owned companies attacked the QE price tag as “roughly the entire turnover of Germany’s family-owned companies in a year”.

Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, German ECB board member Sabine Lautenschläger had expressed concern that the decision would encourage euro member states to “run up more debts rather than pursue a sustainable budget and economic policy”.