Chancellor Angela Merkel knows that Germany must ultimately underwrite the euro’s rescue, pretty much regardless of whether its conditions are satisfied. There are three good reasons. First, the euro has been very good to Germany. Second, the bailout costs are likely to be much lower than most Germans believe. Third, and perhaps most important, the cost to Germany of euro dismemberment would be incalculably high — far more than that of keeping the currency together.

To go by the pronouncements coming out of Germany over the last couple of weeks, you might naturally conclude that the euro is toast. Speaking before Parliament, Chancellor Angela Merkel broadly rejected “counterproductive” proposals to pool Europe’s resources to help floundering Mediterranean nations. Germany’s “strength is not infinite,” she stressed. German voters are even more skeptical than their leaders about financing their “slothful” and “profligate” neighbors. Though most still tell pollsters they want to keep the single currency, almost four-fifths want Greece to leave — oblivious to the chain reaction that Greek departure would unleash against Portugal, Spain and even Italy. Yet it would be wrong to kiss the euro goodbye just yet. For all of Berlin’s neins, shooting down every serious proposal to address its woes, the German government knows it must ultimately cave and open its wallet to save the single currency.
By Eduardo Porter, June 26, 2012 NYT

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