When I went to Germany in October of 2009, I would tediously find a way to insert a question about whether or not Germany should rethink its export-oriented economic model into every discussion. The answer was universally “no.” Here in December of 2010, the answer is sometimes “yes.” It’s impossible to assess the real significance of the shift because of course I’m talking to different people. But I think there’s a real change. The outcome of the last election followed by the arrival of the CDU-FDP coalition followed by strong economic growth has, paradoxically, created the incentive for left-of-center Germans to start coming up with ideas about underlying weaknesses in the model.
Meanwhile, German consumption is in fact now rising.
What you of course don’t hear is “Germany is richer than Greece, Spain, or Portugal so naturally transfer payments to working class Germans should be cut in order to finance transfer payments to the poorer working classes of Greece, Spain, and Portugal.”