It may have appeared that Olli Rehn, the EU’s economic chief, today was siding with Washington in the going transatlantic tussle over Germany’s current account surplus by launching an inquiry into whether the surplus was harming growth in the rest of Europe.

But Rehn went out of his way to make clear that he was no fan of the US Treasury department report that pushed the dispute into overdrive last month.

Speaking at a press conference announcing the European Commission’s decision to launch the “in-depth review” of Germany’s surplus, Rehn said the US Treasury’s report was “to my taste somewhat simplified and too straight forward”.

As if that weren’t enough, the understated Finn made clear he thought the Obama administration’s motivation for issuing the German attack was to distract the rest of the world from criticisms Washington faced at last month’s International Monetary Fund meetings about its ongoing budget fights and the Federal Reserve’s threat to “taper” off its quantitative easing policies.

I’m not saying that the US Treasury report was only published as a reaction to the international criticism in the IMF annual meetings concerning the US fiscal gridlock and certain developments as regards to US monetary policy at the time. I’m not saying that this US Treasury report was published as a reaction to this international criticism of US economic policy.

For those fellow Americans who don’t do irony very well: When Rehn says he’s not alleging such ulterior motives – he actually is alleging exactly that.

Get alerts on Central banks when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article