German Leaders Blame U.S. for Financial Crisis

By Christel Kucharz, ABC News Germany

The global financial crisis has been dominating the newscasts and headlines in Germany all week with German politicians reassuring the public that damage to the European system was likely limited.

Today, echoing what Chancellor Angela Merkel has said earlier this week, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück used stark language to blame the United States for the financial crisis.

“The United States, and let me emphasize, the United States is solely to be blamed for the financial crisis. They are the cause for the crisis and it is not Europe and it is not the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Speaking at the parliament in Berlin today, Steinbrück said it was “the Anglo-Saxon drive for double-digit profits and massive bonuses for bankers and company executives that were responsible for the financial crisis.”

"Investment bankers and politicians in New York, Washington and London were not willing to give these up," he said.

“The U.S. is going to lose its superpower status in the world’s financial system. The current financial crisis will leave ‘deep marks’ and Wall Street will never be the same,” according to Steinbrück.

The finance minister also called for closer cooperation and tighter rules. “The U.S. must now work with its international partners and agree to stronger international rules to solve the crisis.”

Steinbrück proposed eight measures to address the crisis, including a ban on speculative short-selling and an increase in bank capital requirements to offset credit risks.

The finance minister also predicted, "The world will never be as it was before the crisis; the financial system will become more multipolar. Wall Street will never be what it was."

Earlier this week, Merkel indirectly attacked President Bush by suggesting that America’s obstinacy had dragged Europe into the money crisis.

According to Merkel, the Bush administration’s mishandling of Wall Street and the U.S. refusal to adopt stricter rules have led to the current crisis.

“We dutifully adopted a nice European Union law into our national law, and we had to deal with numerous complaints from small and medium-sized companies for doing that. When the day came, the Americans said, ‘We won’t,’” Merkel said in a speech Monday.

Merkel complained that taxpayers in countries far beyond the United State would be forced to foot the bill.

“The current crisis shows us you can do some things on the national level, but the overwhelming majority must be agreed to on the international level. We must push for clearer regulations so that a crisis like the current one cannot be repeated.”

Photo Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

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