Standard & Poor’s warning that no less than fifteen eurozone states, including Germany, could lose their AAA credit rating has been met with howls of protest from leading German politicians. The general secretary of the Social Democratic party (SPD), Andrea Nahles, described the Standard and Poor’s announcement as “shameless.” Former German finance minister Peer Steinbrück, also of the SPD, spoke of a “provocation” and urged the European Commission to subject the rating agencies to “far stricter regulation.”
The current German economics minister, Philipp Rösler of the ostensibly pro-free market Free Democratic Party (FDP), employed somewhat more measured tones, stiffly commenting, “Germany will not let itself to be impressed by the day-to-day and very short-lived judgment of a single ratings agency.”
But it was Rösler’s colleague Rainer Brüderle who had perhaps the most extreme reaction. Brüderle is the chair of the FDP group in the German Bundestag. “I am no fan of conspiracy theories,” Brüderle told the German business daily Handelsblatt, “But sometimes it is hard to avoid the impression that some American ratings agencies and fund managers are working against the euro zone.”
The observation is particularly odd in the present circumstances, given that Standard and Poor’s is the same ratings agency that in August of this year already did downgrade the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA+.