What Germany Got for Its $2 Trillion


BLEAK HOUSE: Halle has struggled to reinvent itself following the decline of its chemical industry. Soviet-era apartment blocks like these in the south of the city are half empty

In the past year, as the world economy has plunged into recession, governments have pledged to spend as much as $5 trillion of taxpayers' money to ward off a prolonged slump. For the most part, these massive programs are based on little more than theory: nobody advocating them has experienced a downturn as dramatic as this one. But Dagmar Szabados has seen such spending before — she knows what it's like to be on the receiving end of a gigantic fiscal infusion. Szabados, a chemist by training, is the mayor of Halle, a mid-sized town in the middle of what used...

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