#3: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor
Next on the list is Germany’s iron lady, Chancellor Angela Merkel. As the elected leader of the most powerful economy in the eurozone — and the one country strong enough to backstop the assorted bailout schemes — Merkel is second only to Draghi in importance to the eurozone right now.
Ms. Merkel has two very different voices whispering into her ear. From one side, she hears the pleas of her fellow European heads of government asking for assistance in the cause of the greater European good. But from the other side, she has the stern voice of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble demanding austerity as both a means to an end and the end itself.
The result has been predictable: paralysis and indecision. Merkel’s heart tells her to support Draghi’s attempts to do “whatever it takes,” while her conscience — and her angry voters — tells her that this only rewards bad behavior and that the only force that will incentivize Europe’s problem states to get their acts together is the constant threat of bond-market meltdown.
As an elected political leader (rather than an appointed technocrat like Draghi and Weidmann), Merkel has a responsibility to explain to her citizens what is at stake, and on this count she has most assuredly failed. The sooner the chancellor learns how to actually lead rather than follow the often contradictory whims of her voters, the sooner we will find an end to this crisis.