Well it is if you translate it into English. When Germans say Finanzkrise, they actually mean “financial crisis”. Of course I do see why they want to scrunch it up like that. They too, like the rest of us, want to get it over with as soon as possible.

But that’s about where it stops when it comes to agreeing on how best to alleviate the crisis, at least when it comes to Germany and the rest of Europe. And many over here think that merely scrunching up words is about where Germany’s contribution to alleviating this crisis ends. It’s hard enough just getting blood out of a stone, as you may well know. But getting bone-chilling amounts of deficit spending money out of Germany? Good luck, Gordon and co.

When Germany’s Charmkanone (charm canon) Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück described British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s economic polices as “depressing” and “crass” at a big EU get-together yesterday, this was yet another reminder of how Germany’s insistence upon putting its own national interests first at a time when “we all sit in the same boat” makes a mockery of the otherwise so well-rehearsed, if not somewhat monotone, repetitive and, well, mantra-like German chorus about European unity we have to listen to all the time here otherwise. “Charm canon” wasn’t in this year’s word of the year competition, by the way.

After decades of projecting German national interests as low-profile as Germanly possible, Germans have clearly moved into a louder new “Germany first” mode with the outbreak of the current Finanzkrise. That will nevertheless prove to be a bit costly for them, I’m sure. The “paymaster of Europe”, currently represented by Chancellor Merkel, hasn’t cut such a lonely figure in years.

But getting back to the German word of the year contest, one of the runners-up was another scrunched up word, Rettungsschirm. That means “emergency parachute.” Old paymaster or not, maybe the Germans shouldn’t scrunch that one up all too much.

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