When a Nobel-winning economist, one of the most influential economists in the world, describes your policy as "economic suicide", you take note.
When one of the world's most influential capitalists, George Soros, warns that German policy could be precipitating a breakup of the eurozone, you take note.
At least, you should take note.
As Paul Krugman said this week, the debt crisis afflicting
eurozone countries such as Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy was partly caused by German banks. Sadly, it is being exacerbated by a political response heavily influenced by Germany's political leaders. They are not, it appears, listening.
The message we are hearing from Germany's leaders is that, if the rest of us can become more like them, things will work out. In fairness to them, it is easy to see why they might arrive at that conclusion. Germany's trade surplus with the rest of the EU grew almost three times between 2000 and 2007, from €46.4bn to €126.5bn. At the same time, German consumption fell and the savings rate grew. By 2008, Germany was the second-biggest net creditor to eurozone countries. That's pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, as Krugman points out, they are suffering a touch of myopia. Part of their success was circular -- their banks lent too much cheap money to us and others, and we in turn bought too many German goods. Had the market been allowed to work, several of our banks would have collapsed, German investors would have lost a fortune, and we might all be coming to the table with a sense of shared humility and culpability. What happened instead was that they bailed out our banks, we bailed out theirs, and because we're a lot smaller than they are, the per capita costs on our side were much, much higher than on theirs.
The fiscal compact is one mechanism by which German leaders are trying to make us behave more like them. Here's the problem -- if we try to become more like them, without temporarily increasing inflation, we'll be broke for a very long time. We will not be able to buy their goods and, ironically, they will end up becoming more like us.
Yes we need to get the budget in balance, but an austerity-only approach will not work. Youth unemployment in Spain is now at 50 per cent, with half of those now out of work for more than a year. The IMF warns of the "scarring effect" this has, on those young people and on their society. It warns of "a vicious circle of intergenerational poverty and social exclusion" and "violence and juvenile delinquency". That's every bit as "unsustainable" as the fiscal situation.
It is vital that Germany's leaders see this and adjust their stance on the austerity-only solution.
If Krugman can help them see that, he'll have done this State some service.
Stephen Donnelly is the Independent TD for Wicklow