Amb. Ruth Jacoby (Ambassador of Sweden to Germany)

16.03.2010 - Interview conducted by James Lionel Hood

Do you have an opinion on any particular cultural distinctions that might account for different approaches to both causes and coping in the current financial crisis?

Germany, for example, has always been financially prudent country. The people have painful memories of inflation, and so they are sensible in their spending and consumption. This is a history that many countries do not share, so of course this creates a different approach.

Looking to the global financial framework of the future, how confident are you of reaching an international agreement?

You know, it’s going to be difficult because we all face the same difficulties. We have to ensure that we will continue working together and not go our separate ways in relation to either emerging or transatlantic economies. That is why the G20 is such an important forum where we can reach a consensus on how to tackle these challenges we face.

What is your opinion of the automotive industries bailout: do you consider it political protectionism or economic necessity?

I hope it is not protectionism; it shouldn’t be. I think at times it may be an economic necessity. In my country, we have tried not to bail out the car companies for the simple reason that we do not agree with economic protectionism, but obviously one does wants to ensure employment. However, there are many ways of doing that. There can be long-term structural options which may prove more effective or efficient than trying to save an industry that is no longer competitive -- that is the challenge. We want to save jobs, but they need to be sustainable for the future, as we have traditionally done over the last few decades across various industries. You cannot ensure long-term sustainability not only because it becomes a terrible drain on the government’s financial resources, but also delays structural adjustment.