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Germany's Merkel Avoids Painful Economic Reforms

Unlike her predecessor, Angela Merkel is avoiding painful domestic reforms
Germany's Merkel Avoids Painful Economic Reforms
Photo illustration by 731; Photographs by Hans Christian Plambeck/Laif/Redux (Merkel); Sean Gallup/Getty Images (Schroeder)

“The wise man voluntarily does in good times that which the stupid man involuntarily has to do in bad times,” says Stefan Heidbreder, managing director at the Stiftung Familienunternehmen, a foundation for family-owned businesses. He’s quoting a German proverb, and he’s hoping that Angela Merkel is wise.

Merkel has been chancellor for eight years. Germans see her as having ably guided the country through the euro crisis. In June the Deutsche Bundesbank, looking at domestic demand and a rise in construction, raised its estimate of gross domestic product growth in 2014 to 1.9 percent, well above the euro zone average. Merkel enjoys an approval rating of 71 percent. If an election were held today, her Christian Democrats would likely get more votes than any other party. On July 13, as Manuel Neuer collected his Golden Glove trophy as the World Cup’s best goalie, he gave his chancellor a spontaneous hug. She doesn’t look like a politician who’s doing anything wrong.