WASHINGTON -- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says the German government has refused to take responsibility for its biggest banks, whose reckless lending spurred the current Greek debt crisis.
During a recent interview for HuffPost's "So, That Happened" podcast, Brown argued that the German government has "damaged" the European project by insisting that Greece implement aggressive austerity measures after six years of economic depression.
Listen to the full interview below. Brown begins at the 19:05 mark:
"I think it's been damaged," Brown said of the European Union. "I think when the big guys have the ability -- the Germans, and secondarily the French, have the ability to beat up on the smaller, poorer nation ... I think the lesson goes out: 'Don't do what Greece did.' The problem is, the lesson also is, 'no restraint on risk-taking by big banks.'"
Brown is the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. involvement in international finance.
He argued that the negotiations over EU funding for Greece resembled recent bank bailouts in the United States. In both cases, lenders who made bad loans were rescued by government funds without having to reform their practices or rescind executive pay or bonuses. In Greece, however, the public has also been required to accept harsh austerity measures as a condition for receiving bailout money that its government ultimately turned over to big banks, mostly in France and Germany.
"There seems to be almost an abdication of responsibility from, I think, the European community, from the German government and from the banks," Brown said.