Sone readers might be interested in this excellent blog post by Thomas Piketty on the alleged asymmetry between Germany and France.
The core takeaway is that both countries have similar levels of productivity – measured in terms of GDP per hour worked.
The difference between Germany and France is that they use their high-levels of productivity in very different ways. France consumes and invests what it produces. Germany sells it abroad.
The excessive and persistent trade surpluses in Germany (outside small oil producing states and tax havens) “are unprecedented in economic history”. Europe has a German problem.