Germany has weathered the financial crisis much better than most of its neighbors. Regarded as the sick man of Europe as recently as 1999, today the country boasts the continent's strongest economy, accounting for roughly a quarter of its exports. Its unemployment rate, at just below 5 percent, is half the European average. The federal budget is balanced for the first time in a decade.

But it would be a mistake to assume that Germany's economic performance vindicates its policymaking.

Germany's current economic dominance has been built on a policy framework that stands in direct opposition to that championed by former Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, the father of its post-World War II "economic miracle."