Star economist Thomas Piketty, whose book Capital in the 21st Century became a worldwide bestseller, has come out strongly against Germany’s stance in the current Greek debt crisis.
If Germany doesn’t find a way to restructure the debt of countries within the eurozone, “its position on the debt crisis will be a grave danger to Europe,” said Piketty in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit. The English translation of the original interview can be found here.
Piketty is considered one of the most influential economists in the world, and since the release of Capital, has sparked global discussions on wealth inequality and the call for the redistribution of income. It was during his research for his book that Piketty saw Germany as the best example of a country that, ironically, has never repaid its external debt. In Capital, the French economist writes that “the amnesia award goes to Germany” for their chance forgetfulness of their history with debt. Given the inability of Greece to repay its roughly $300 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, Piketty believes the current German attitude smacks of hypocrisy.
“When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations,” he said in the interview.
Piketty’s suggestion is that countries in the euro come together for a debt conference call “to determine the maximum allowable budget deficit in order to prevent the regrowth of debt,” starting with Greece. If they don’t, Piketty has a warning for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: “Those who want to chase Greece out of the eurozone today will end up on the trash heap of history.”