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Geithner upbeat, Germany pessimistic on euro zone

Geithner upbeat, Germany pessimistic on euro zone
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Urging bold steps to end the euro zone debt crisis, US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been meeting his French counterpart, the Finance Minister Francois Baroin.

Geithner said he has “a lot” of confidence in efforts by France and Germany to improve control of euro zone countries’ deficits, imposing mandatory penalties on those states that exceed deficit targets as well as bringing forward a permanent rescue fund.

This is Geithner’s fourth trip to Europe in as many months, indicating the level of alarm in Washington at the damage the debt crisis could do to the US economy.

Baroin promised a “powerful” deal at this week’s EU summit saying Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel would not leave the negotiating table until they had that.

The French finance minister told reporters: “We have the same concerns, that is to make sure that this financial crisis is brought to an end; and to find ways to increase our joint efforts leading to a revival of activity in the real economy, with support for investment and the creation of jobs.”

But while Paris and America’s top money man voiced confidence, in Berlin a senior German official gave a deliberately downbeat assessment of prospects for an good outcome from the summit.

In an apparent attempt to jolt partners into accepting Germany’s terms and restrictions he said some institutions and member states still have not understood how serious the situation is.