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Germany

Finance Minister: Germans Need Optimism Boost

Germans need to shake their ingrained pessimism if they are to weather the financial crisis, Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said. He suggested a more British-Scandinavian-Mediterranean outlook.

Woman with face painted like a German flag smiles

Germans are being called on to channel their inner optimist

Germany could use a dose of British common sense mixed with Scandinavian pragmatism and rounded off with a little bit of the Mediterranean's easy-going spirit, Germany's finance minister told the country's powerful automotive association.

Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said the government's 50-billion-euro ($66 billion) stimulus package is just what the country needs.

"I'd wish for two things now," Steinbrueck reportedly said. "First, that we watch out for the psychological impact and not ruin everything. We Germans have a tendency to see the glass as always half empty."

Pessimism "makes things worse"

In the past, that pessimism has "sometimes caused us more problems than warranted by the actual situation," Steinbrueck said.

Peer Steinbrueck laughs

Steinbrueck says pessimism will only make the crisis worse

Steinbrueck said Berlin had been unfairly criticized at the beginning of the crisis for not doing enough while now facing the complaint that it had done too much, Reuters news agency reported.

"And secondly, we need to let go of that certain German melancholy we sometimes have. We need a mixture of British common sense, Scandinavian pragmatism, and some of the 'twinkle-toed' Mediterranean style to get past the problems," Steinbrueck said.

Deep recession predicted

Just hours before Steinbrueck's speech on Wednesday, Jan. 21, the government announced that it expects the economy to contract by 2.25 percent in 2009. The collapse in demand for German exports means that Europe's biggest economy is facing its deepest recession since World War II.

Steinbrueck said that the recession cannot be avoided, but that the government's measure will help ease the downturn.

"I believe the measures we've taken will put us on the right track," he said. "I hope that Germany gets through the crisis stronger than before."

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