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Germany Agrees To Economic Stimulus Package

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Overseas, even in normally robust Germany, the recession is accelerating and at an alarming rate. This week the government there unveiled an economic stimulus package worth nearly $70 billion. From Berlin, Thomas Marzahl reports.

THOMAS MARZAHL: For months, Germany was accused of not doing enough to revive its ailing economy. Conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel even earned the nickname Madame No. Her coalition of social democrats and conservatives thought a limited stimulus they passed back in November would be sufficient. But Madame No is no more. On Wednesday, she defended a new stimulus package, including billions of euros for roads and schools, and tax cuts and incentives for consumers.

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Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL: (German spoken)

MARZAHL: Germany should not just survive this crisis, Merkel told the country's lower house of parliament. The stimulus would help it emerge stronger, with a more secure economic future. Analysts say the collapse of the global economy woke up the government because it eventually led to Germany. Exports of the country's wanted cars and machine tools are plunging, and last month unemployment also edged up for the first time in years.

While the financial industry has not hemorrhaged money like in the U.S., Germany's biggest bank, Deutsche Bank, just announced it lost $5 billion in 2008. Critics are warning of dangerously higher deficits and dismissed the tax cuts as insignificant. One opposition politician scoffed that low-income Germans would gain about $4 a month, barely the cost of a bratwurst. For NPR News, I'm Thomas Marzahl in Berlin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.