Germany OKs big aid package to help companies, self-employed


By Geir Moulson, Associated Press

via Yakima Herald (WA) - Mar 23, 2020


BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Monday approved a massive new package of measures to cushion the devastating effects of the virus outbreak on the economy, bringing the total aid on offer to more than 1 trillion euros ($1.1 trillion).


The assistance includes money to tide small companies and individual entrepreneurs through the closures that have frozen business activity, and to pump capital into bigger companies where needed.


The new measures massively bolster a previous pledge of at least 460 billion euros ($492 billion) in loan guarantees to help Europe’s biggest economy handle the fallout of running down public life to a minimum.


The measures amount to more than 30% of GDP, making the package “one of the largest around the world and the largest in the country's history,” according to Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics. “This is a much broader response than only a week ago, and means Germany leads the world in terms of the speed and scale of its fiscal response so far.”


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government decided to break with six years of balanced budgets – long a point of pride to Merkel’s conservative bloc - by borrowing 156 billion euros ($167 billion) to finance the packages and cover an expected shortfall in tax revenue.


As part of the package...