Why Germany Kant Kompete

>> Friday, February 27, 2015

A while back various versions of a fake European Commission document began circulating via e-mail. The memorandum argued that once a common European currency had been established, the obvious next step would be adoption of a common language. Practical considerations dictated that this language be English, with a few improvements. Thus, the memorandum suggested that the superfluous hard "c" be replaced with "k," eliminating one source of konflikt; that in order konfusion to avoid writers the verbs at the end of the sentence put should; and by the end of memorandum English had been transformed into German.

What gave the joke its edge was, of course, the presumption that the new Europe would be dominated by Germany. Not only is Germany the most populous nation of the European Union, but it has also traditionally had its most powerful economy. Indeed, since the early 1980s, Germany has effectively exercised monetary hegemony over its neighbors; the job of the Dutch, Belgian, even French central bankers was simply to follow the Bundesbank's lead.
~Paul Krugman, "Why Germany Kant Kompete," Fortune magazine, July 19, 1999 [reprinted in The Great Unraveling]

The quote is from an essay that is more than 15 years old. The main gist of that essay was Germany's then economic downturn, which is hard to imagine these days, but considering that Germany is basically the force behind Greece's likely exit from the Euro, it's still relevant reading. After Germany pushes out Greece, it'll be interesting to see if it tries to push out Spain and Portugal too.


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