德国多年来奉行限薪政策，很多经济学家将此描述为竞争性贬值或“以邻为壑”政策。德国获得的竞争力可以立即转化为贸易顺差，因为商品、服务、人员和资本的自由政策允许德国产品在整个欧盟地区自由迅速地流通。这些是欧盟法的基本自由条款，受欧洲法院（European Court of Justice）有力保护。若没有这些，德国政策一直以来不会如此成功。
As worries rise that the eurozone is slipping into recession, it’s clear Germany is doing way better than its neighbors. Today, the country has low unemployment, very low inflation, a large trade surplus and a balanced budget. By contrast, most members of the Eurozone are stagnating, while some are going through a catastrophic recession and suffering from debilitating unemployment. The German government says that its own success and its neighbors’ failures are unrelated; that poor performance is due to poor decisions. Yet, even though the policy failures are real enough, this analysis is false.
Germany has for many years pursued a policy of wage suppression, which many economists have described as a competitive devaluation or ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policy. Germany’s gains in competitiveness were immediately translated to gains in trade, since the freedom of goods, services, persons and capital allowed German products to circulate freely and quickly throughout the European Union. These are the fundamental freedoms of EU law and are vigorously protected by the European Court of Justice. German policy would not have been successful without them
Germany has also benefited from the fixed exchange rate that the Euro effectively secures between itself and its major European markets. This means that its export boom was not offset by a rise in its own currency. If Germany had been outside the Euro, currency appreciation would have hurt Germany’s gains. Not so in the Eurozone.
While Germany has benefited so much from the Eurozone, its less successful partners are left to fend for themselves. The Eurozone lacks the automatic stabilizers that other currency unions apply among the various regions — namely, fiscal transfers such as unemployment and housing benefits, shared health care costs, or the pooling of bank risks and deposit insurance. The Eurozone also lacks the large movement of workers across state borders enjoyed by the United States, mostly due to language and regulatory barriers. These institutional features of the Eurozone have created a highly unfair economic union, which magnifies disproportionately the consequences of failure.
Germany might respond, ‘Tough, the others ought to have seen it coming.” All members of the Eurozone are subject to the same competitive environment. All consented to its design by ratifying the relevant treaties. All had a chance to adjust. Yet this argument is false too.