Can Germany still afford this national debt?

KRisenkampf seems to have a new motto: the more, the merrier. Chancellor Olaf Scholz proudly called it “double boom” last week when he presented the new program against high energy prices. Up to 200 billion euros are available – in new debt. Finance Minister can do that Christian Lindner promise for so long that the debt brake will be adhered to again next year – this year he is borrowing a huge sum of money for the time being.

Patrick Bernau

Responsible editor for economy and “value” of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

Alexander Wulfers

Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

But now debt has become fashionable. In Great Britain, the new finance minister has announced a tax cut that will also increase the national deficit by a total of almost 200 billion euros over the next five years. In Italy, on the other hand, the new head of government is committed to a balanced budget, but has nevertheless announced tax cuts that have not yet been financed.

In the end, the German state will probably not spend the full 200 billion. But the new rescue package is not the first debt program this year either: the traffic light coalition put 100 billion euros into a fund for the armed forces60 billion euros in an energy and climate fund, and the previous government had already started in the Corona times.

Debt rhetoric succeeds – at the wrong time?

The rhetoric of the past few years has been successful. The state budget was solid, the country’s debt was falling, interest rates were close to zero or even below, and inflation was rather too low. In such a situation, it was no wonder that many people called for debt: the state should rather finance its spending through loans, perhaps put the money into investments. But now the situation is different. Inflation has risen to ten percent, interest rates are already rising noticeably again. Is such a loan the right step now?

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