The Sterling Crisis: The mighty mark basks in a plethora of superlatives: Counter-offensive to defend EC

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The Independent Online
'OH YOU beautiful, mighty Mark - make our life cheaper]' As the British huddled, humiliated, amidst the wreckage of Europe's currency disaster, unruffled Germans awoke yesterday to these triumphant tones from the Bild Zeitung, writes John Eisenhammer.

'Super Mark' proclaimed the headline across the front page, while its popular rival, Express, hailed 'Victory for the Bundesbank' in the 'great currency battle'. Blissfully ignoring the anguished attacks on the Germans, and especially the Bundesbank, coming from several European countries, Express told its readers 'to celebrate, for goods from Britain, Italy and Spain are now much cheaper'. In a eulogy to its beloved D-mark, Bild wrote how it is 'loved all over the world - they are all desperate to crawl into it. The English, Swedish, Spanish, and hottest of all, the Italians.'

The biggest, and worst, losers of the turbulence among European currencies are the British, the Germans say. 'Stop whining]' was the advice of one writer in a quality daily, who said the British were paying the price of insufficient discipline: 'Stability begins at home.'

Just in case its readers had not realised how wonderful the world had become over the past few days, Bild provided a shopping list for Germans with super marks burning in their pockets. A week's salmon fishing in Scotland, clearly every German bricklayer's dream, is now to be snapped up for just DM2,000 (pounds 763) instead of DM2,500.

Tweed jackets, the newspaper reports, are being given away for DM300 instead of DM360, while a Daimler is going for the rush-out-and-buy-three price of DM120,000, as opposed to DM133,000. British insurance policies are 30 per cent cheaper than German ones. But be careful, warns Bild, 'they are not as reliable as ours'. As for the pound, do not touch] it admonishes. The mighty mark is 'going up and up'.