Germany’s chance to show economic mercy

The other day , Jörg Krämer, chief economist for Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said of the Greeks, ‘‘If you live beyond your means, then you can repair your balance sheet only if your consumption goes down.’’ This sentiment has become a German mantra. Germany’s price for the latest bailout deal has been an insistence on an ever-more intense and self-defeating Greek austerity program, which has now pushed Greece to the brink of a social catastrophe. But the Germans might take a moment and reflect on their own history.