The head of a German economic research institute points to some staggering numbers in the NYT:
We are…in the fifth year of generous liquidity help to Europe’s uncompetitive members. Since late 2007, the European Central Bank has helped with an international shift of refinancing credit, also known as Target credit, from the core euro states to the periphery, to which the German Bundesbank has contributed $874 billion. Greece’s and Portugal’s entire current account deficits were financed that way. Moreover, since May 2010, the E.C.B. has bought more than $250 billion in government bonds, while nearly $500 billion has come from rescue programs and help from the I.M.F. Add to that two European rescue funds, and you have a total of $2.63 trillion.
It is unfair for critics to ask Germany to bear even more risk. Should Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain go bankrupt and repay nothing, while the euro survives, Germany would lose $899 billion. Should the euro fail, Germany would lose over $1.35 trillion, more than 40 percent of its G.D.P. Has the United States ever incurred a similar risk for helping other countries?
Some critics have argued that Germany, having benefited from the Marshall Plan, now owes it to Europe to undertake a similar rescue. Those critics should look at the numbers. Greece has received or been promised $575 billion through assistance efforts, including Target credit, E.C.B. bond purchases and a haircut after a debt moratorium. Compare this with the Marshall Plan, for which Germany is very grateful. It received 0.5 percent of its G.D.P. for four years, or 2 percent in total. Applied to the Greek G.D.P., this would be about $5 billion today. In other words, Greece has received a staggering 115 Marshall plans, 29 from Germany alone, and yet the situation has not improved.
Meanwhile, from Nouriel Roubini and Niall Ferguson: “The failure of German public opinion to grasp the dire state of affairs in Europe today is inviting a repeat of precisely the crisis of the mid 20th century that European integration was designed to avoid.”