PHILIP STEPHENS: Germany will wait until it’s too late before stepping in with stimulus
German leaders know Europe faces a yawning investment gap, but fear offending voters
Last weekend European policymakers gathered on the glistening shores of Lake Como for the Ambrosetti business forum. I heard three things. The downturn in the eurozone economy looks perilously like the prelude to recession. The European Central Bank’s monetary easing will serve as a vital, but insufficient corrective. And Germany will wait until it is too late before providing a measurable fiscal stimulus. Brexit is a sideshow, albeit an unwelcome one given the darkening economic clouds.
Mario Draghi, the departing president of the ECB, has already earned his place in the pantheon of great Europeans. His willingness to remake the monetary rules saved the euro in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. Had the single currency collapsed, much of the architecture of postwar European integration would have gone with it. National politicians, frozen in the headlights of the crisis, have a lot for which to thank Draghi.