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Germany 'too weak to withstand more stimulus', says Angela Merkel
Germany does not have the economic strength to launch another stimulus package now without running the risk of losing market confidence, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

In 2009, Germany boosted its crisis-hit economy, Europe's largest, with large-scale spending. The €50bn package was the biggest of its kind since World War II and included investment in education and infrastructure, as well as tax cuts for firms and individuals.

But now, said the Chancellor, "we do not have the strength for a second economic package without losing international confidence".

In the debate about how to help eurozone countries hit by high deficits, debt and recession, Ms Merkel has long stressed the need for structural reforms and cost-cutting to rebalance public finances.

Critics especially in southern Europe and France have charged that the fiscal discipline approach stifles growth and adds to the economic pain, calling instead for greater stimulus measures that would revitalise demand.

Last week, the new US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew during a Berlin visit also urged economies to stimulate consumer demand. He said that evidence from his side of the Atlantic suggested increased government spending and looser monetary policy was having a more positive effect than anything being tried in Brussels.

"Policies that would help to encourage consumer demand in countries that have the capacity would be helpful," Mr Lew said at the time.

There have also been growing signals from inside the International Monetary Foundation in favour of an easing of austerity in the eurozone to boost economies in the 17-member currency bloc and to help revitalise the global economy.

Last month, the IMF's head Christine Lagarde suggested the European Central Bank should cut interest rates and allow higher inflation, adding that would help ensure a sustained economic recovery.

Speaking on Monday to an audience of bankers, Ms Merkel also took care to highlight progress in regulating the financial system, but warned that much work remained to be done. She added that Basel III regulations should be applied internationally.

"We have promised the public that every financial centre, every actor, every financial product, is subject to regulation, and we are still far from that," she said, while calling for the G20 to pursue efforts in this direction.

She said that banks had not yet fully regained the trust they lost during the financial crisis and reminded financial institutions that part of their role was to support the wider economy.

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