German ‘Wise Men’ push for wealth seizure to fund EMU bail-outs

Two top advisers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for a tax on private wealth and property in eurozone debtor states to force the rich to fund rescue costs, marking a radical new departure for EMU crisis strategy.

Professors Lars Feld and Peter Bofinger said states in trouble must pay more for their own salvation, said arguing that there is enough wealth in homes and private assets across the Mediterranean to cover bail-out costs. “The rich must give up part of their wealth over the next ten years,” said Prof Bofinger.

The two economist are members of the Germany’s Council of Economic Experts or “Five Wise Men”, a body that advises the Chancellor on major issues. There is no formal plan to launch a wealth tax but the council is often used to fly kites for new policies.

Prof Bofinger told Spiegel Magazine that it was a mistake to target deposit holders in banks, the formula used in the EU-IMF Troika bail-out for Cyprus where those with savings above €100,000 at Laiki and Bank of Cyprus face huge losses. “The canny rich in southern Europe just shift their money to banks in Northern Europe to escape seizure,” he said.

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